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48 Years Ago: Downtown Encircled by Freeways

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, March 30, 2010, at 06:30PM
1964 Downtown Dick Whittington Studio / USC Digital Archives []

1964 aerial view of Downtown, with the interchange of the Harbor and Santa Monica freeways in the foreground.

On March 30, 1962, a crowd of 400 gathered atop a newly completed segment of the Santa Monica Freeway to applaud the finish of Downtown's "freeway loop," the collection of lines that has served to define the Central City's geography ever since.

Nine Freeway Queens helped Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown cut the ribbon on the 1.1-mile elevated segment stretching from the 110 to Main street. "Now, for the first time, we have freeways that will relieve other freeways," the governor was quoted as saying in the next day's L.A. Times.

Stories about the freeway work emphasized the way in which the Downtown loop turned the routes into a system where drivers had multiple choices of how to get into or around the Central City.

The day marked the conclusion of an intense 15 year period of freeway construction Downtown. The Hollywood Freeway opened into the Civic Center on December 27, 1950. The first link of the Harbor Freeway, from Temple to 3rd, opened a year and a half later on July 30, 1952. Further sections opened over the next two years. The Golden State Freeway took shape in the early 1960s.


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