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70 Years Ago: Digging Completed for Figueroa's First Street Cut

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, February 25, 2010, at 11:54AM
Figueroa and First Automobile Club of Southern California / USC Digital Archives [digitallibrary.usc.edu]

Crews work to construct a bridge for First Street to cross over Figueroa, smoothing out Figueroa's route to the north.



For decades, city planners have seen Downtown's Bunker Hill as an obstacle rather than a feature. They've tunneled under it, cut across it, and when all else failed simply lowered it.

On February 24, 1940, work to level a two-block stretch of Figueroa between 1st and Diamond shifted from excavation to building. The project was one of three designed to speed Figueroa's access into Downtown, following underpass construction at College and Temple.

83,157 cubic yards of dirt were removed in the process of widening the Figueroa right-of-way to 100 feet and flattening it out. A 150-foot bridge was constructed to carry First street across the new cut, contributing $90,000 of the total project's $154,000 cost.

Provisions were made for making sure that the structure would be able to stay if the city decided to tunnel First under the hill, as it had with 2nd and 3rd.

Figueroa reopened on May 26, creating a clear connection to the street's wider northern stretch and the under-contruction Arroyo Seco. Part of that link was later taken out by construction of the 110 freeway; the tunnels constructed for the street now carry the northbound highway lanes.

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