Edited by Gerald Boerner
Today we take an interesting walk down memory lane, or memories of freeways gone by! It’s hard to believe that it was at the end of the Great Depression and Works Project Administration that the first freeway, or “controlled-access highway,” was built to connect downtown Los Angeles with Pasadena. We need to remember that this was a time when Los Angeles had a fantastic commuter system in operation, the Pacific Electric Railway (Red Car), that connected all parts of the Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties together. But the it the era of the automobile was fast approaching.
In 1939, the California Legislature passed a freeway law that enabled the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) to start building a limited-access parkway that followed the route of the Arroyo Seco canyon between LA and Pasadena. This became, when completed, the Arroyo Seco Parkway (Freeway) that would allow cars to travel up to 45 mph between the two endpoints! Regular surface traffic could be avoided by those going between the San Gabriel Valley and downtown. This connection was presently served by the Pacific Electric Railway. But as cars became more depended upon, especially in the post-war period, freeways would be the preferred way of getting around.
The whole transportation landscape in the LA basin was ripe for change. The family car was favored over the fixed-rail lines or the current undependable bus system. Furthermore, several of the large trucking companies in LA were in the process, during the late 1940s, of acquiring the bus systems and wanted to eliminate the highly efficient, but somewhat outdated, Pacific Electric routes. Thus, parkways like the Arroyo Seco we seen as the future of LA.
We now talk about where we live, shop, dine, or catch the latest sporting or entertainment event in terms of which they are closest to. We have become a freeway culture. It doesn’t seem to matter that cars give off emissions that pollute the air, tie us up in traffic jams, or lead to inefficient uses of resources by one-passenger vehicles; this is freedom!
But now it is time to proceed with our look at the history that revolves around California’s first freeway, the Arroyo Seco… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
[ 4280 Words ]
Quotations Related to Freeway:
“Boston’s freeway system is insane. It was clearly designed by a person who had spent his childhood crashing toy trains.”
— Bill Bryson
“How many times have you been on the freeway and had someone fly by you at 100 mph then end up two cars ahead of you at the off ramp? What’s the point?”
— Mark Harmon
“I got a role in this movie called Freeway playing this really angry, aggressive, violent young woman who believed wholeheartedly in the truth. I had such satisfaction afterward, and I thought, That’s what I want to do.”
— Reese Witherspoon