The History of Southern California Freeway
By the 1950s, the freeway construction boon had begun, and interstate highways began to appear. Planning began for an extensive freeway system for Southern California. The two maps below show some of the planning that resulted. Figure 2 (below) comes from the "In Our Path" site, and illustrates the plan for freeways in 1956. Figure 3 (below) is from an article in the Los Angeles Daily News, and illustrates the 1958 plan for freeways. Both of these plans appear to have been drawn up by local transportation agencies, and appear to contain plans for routes that never made it into the 1964 highway system (in fact, they contain routes that weren't even in the 1963 state highway system)
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|Figure 2-1. 1956 Freeway and Expressway Plan for Southern California [IOP56]||Figure 2-2. 1956 Proposed Freeway System (LA Metropolitan Traffic Association [LAMTA56]|
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( Acrobat Version: 1.5MB, but more detailed
|Figure 2-3. 1958 Metropolitan Transportation Engineering Board (MTEB) Freeway and Expressway Plan [MTEB58a]||Figure 2-4. 1958 Metropolitan Transportation Engineering Board (MTEB) Master Plan of Freeways and Expressways [MTEB58b]|
|Figure 2-5. Late 1957 Map
of Planned Freeways from the April 25, 1957 Edition of the Los Angeles
(Published in the Daily Mirror Blog)
It is interesting to compare these various plans to the 1947 plan. Some routes are the same. Some are new. The maps show roughly the same routes, although they focus on different areas. Some notes on these maps in comparison to each other and compared to the 1947 plan (in alphabetical order):
Artesia Freeway. Shown quite well on the LAMTA55 map. Today's Route 91, although it continued W as freeway to the Ocean Freeway.
Barstow/Angeles Crest Freeway. This appears to be the freeway extension of Route 2 along the Angeles Crest Highway. Again, this shows well on the 1965 map. Note that both maps show some form of additional freeway between the end of the I-710 and Route 2, N of I-210. This appears never to have been part of the state highway system.
Beverly Hills Freeway. By 1956/1958, the present configuration had emerged, as contrasted with 1947. The Beverly Hills Freeway corresponds to Route 2. However, the 1956 maps still call this the Santa Monica Freeway (what is today's Santa Monica Freeway was then the Olympic Freeway), and the 1957 Times map even calls it the "Old Santa Monica Freeway". The name changed by 1958. Note that these maps show the Beverly Hills Freeway running parallel to US 101 to Route 60; something that was never in the state highway system. This parallel running was a routing for the Santa Monica Freeway (extension to LRN 172 — Route 60) that was proposed in 1955 but never accepted into the state system.
Brea Canyon Freeway. Much of this was originally not in the state highway system (parts may have been LRN 180 or LRN 19); it is now Route 57 and a little bit of Route 60. Originally, it did not connect with I-10, but followed the present day Route 60 E from Diamond Bar and continued into SBD County.
Century Freeway. It is in the IOP56 and LAMTA56 plans that the Century Freeway first appears. It appears to have no correspondence in the 1947 plan, and surprisingly doesn't even show in the 1963 routes (although Route 42 was planned as freeway)
Decker Freeway. This shows only on the 1958 maps. The construction of the portion between Route 1 and US 101 as freeway was never in the state plans. The US 101 to Route 118 portion may have been the original routing for the present-day Route 23, although the more westerly routing (i.e., the present-day routing) shows as Route 23 (LRN 155) in the 1963 map.
Glendale Freeway. By 1955, this was proposed pretty much as it is today. Route 2.
Harbor Freeway. Today's Route 110.
Hawthorne Freeway. This is Route 107, and was labelled as the Pacific Parkway in 1947.
Industrial Freeway. This was what became the proposed Route 47 freeway, and shows on both maps. In the 1947 plan, this is the Terminal Island Freeway and Alimitos Parkway. In the 1949 plan, it is the TI Freeway and the Long Beach Parkway. However, neither the Alimitos Parkway nor the Long Beach Parkway went as far W as the routing of the Industrial Freeway.
With respect to what portions of the Industrial Freeway were in the state system. By 1955, only the portion between LRN 165 (US 99) and LRN 205 (US 66) was in the state system; it was LRN 222. In 1955, a report recommended that 16.7 net miles be added to the existing 0.8 mi in the state system; these miles would be from "the Pacific Coast Freeway to the Olympic Freeway" (i.e., Route 1 to Route 10), and from the "Pasadena Freeway to Golden State Fwy nr Glendale Blvd" (i.e., Route 110 to I-5). Of this recommendation, in 1959, the former part was added to the system as LRN 270, between Seaside Blvd (Route 47/Route 103 junction) and the future I-10 (LRN 173). Note: The estimated cost to construct the "Industrial" freeway was $84 million.
La Cienega Freeway. See Laurel Canyon Freeway.
La Habra Freeway. This is the Route 39 freeway. It shows in the 1947 plan as the La Habra Parkway. This was proposed around 1955 to run from US 101 to I-10. It shows up in the LAMTA56 map, extended to run from the Coast Highway in Orange County to the Foothill Freeway (I-210). In all cases, it ran along present-day Route 39, Azuza Avenue. It remained on the books at least until 1965.
Latigo Expressway. Latigo Canyon, a very twisty road, was never in the state highway system. This appears only on the 1958 map, and might be an MTEB dream.
Laurel Canyon Freeway. This is the 1947 Laurel Canyon Parkway, and was planned to be Route 170. This routing appears to go a little more to the west than the 1947 Crenshaw Parkway, and would probably correspond to La Cienega (and thus justify the claim that the freeway portion of La Cienega was originally planned as part of Route 170).
A 1955 report proposed LRN 160, the La Cienega Freeway, running 15.2 mi (1.5 mi in the state system, and 13.7 mi to be added) from the San Diego Freeway to the Whitnall Freeway. Note that this is a slightly different routing then was seen by 1965, which eliminated the portion from US 101 (Ventura Fwy) to Route 64 (Whitnall Freeway). This additional portion appears to have run slightly W of Laurel Canyon and US 101 to Coldwater Canyon and Route 64.
Little Tujunga Expressway. This is the Route 249, which ran along the Angeles Forest Highway. See the 1965 plan.
Marina Freeway. Approximates what is Route 90 today, running from Marina Del Rey along Slauson to the Slauson Freeway/Harbor Freeway interchange. Shown in the LAMTA55 map and the 1957 Times map.
Manhattan Freeway/Parkway. Note that this still shows in the 1956 plan. It would run from the Ocean Freeway (LRN 60) (which at that time was Vista Del Mar) to the San Diego Freeway, roughly along Marine, Valley Drive, and the BNSF and UP right of way. It would have cut across what is now the Los Angeles Air Force Base. It was supposedly to be LRN 221, however, this doesn't correspond at all with the legislative definitions (LRN 221 is the Route 90 freeway). It was not in the state system. 2.8 mi; $15 million to build.
Mulholland Expressway. Shown on both maps, this was never a constructed part of the state highway system (and, in fact, is still only a dirt road in stretches) [for a short time, portions were Route 268, but this was never constructed].
Normandie Freeway (Whitnall). This was a 1955 proposed routing in the master plan of freeways, but not in the state system. By 1965, it had been added as the Route 258 freeway. It ran S from I-5 to US 101 (see the Whitnall Freeway for the route), and from US 101 and Normandie to end at the Century Freeway (by 1958, the San Diego Freeway).
Ocean Freeway. Route 1. Would have run along the coast, and just W of Lincoln in Santa Monica, to join with the Marian Freeway and Venice Freeway N of Culver. It would have made a right turn, and continued along the coast, following Vista Del Mar (not Sepulveda) to join up with the Pacific Coast Freeway near Hawthorne. Shown in the LAMTA55 map.
Olympic Freeway. By 1956/1958, the present configuration had emerged, as contrasted with 1947, although it had a different name. The Olympic Freeway corresponds to present day I-10. The name changed to the Santa Monica Freeway in 1958.
Pacific Coast Freeway. This is how the Ocean Freeway continued S of Hawthorne Blvd. It followed roughly PCH into Orange County. Shown on the LAMTA55 map.
Pasadena Freeway. Today's Route 110. Surprisingly, no change in the nothern end.
Pomona Freeway. A 1955 submission proposed extending LRN 172 from LRN 19 (Brea Canyon Freeway) to the LA-SBD County Line. It is unclear why this proposal was made, given that there was already LRN 19 for the routing, but perhaps the 1955 LRN 19 had a different route. This shows in the LAMTA56 map as the short segment going E from the Brea Canyon Freeway. In actuality, what happened is that LAMTA56 Pomona Freeway E of the Brea Canyon Freeway never made it on the books. Instead, the Brea Canyon (LRN 19) routing was used E of the LRN 172/LRN 19 junction, and a new extension of the Route 57 freeway was later added between Route 60 and Route 10. This becomes clear when you compare LAMTA56 and MTEB58b.
Reseda Freeway. This is still on the books; it is the unconstructed portion of Route 14 from I-5 to Route 1 near Temescal Canyon. In 1955, this was proposed to replace LRN 156 (Topanga Canyon), but instead, LRN 290 was defined. It was 23.3 miles long and would have cost $85 million to build, in 1950 dollars!
San Diego Freeway. Pretty much today's I-405, although the join with La Cienga is more pronounced. This explains why the offramp for La Cienega is the way that it is.
San Gabriel River Freeway. LRN 170, now I-605. At one time, part of this was Route 240. The main portion of this, between Route 22 and I-10, was defined back in 1933. The remainder was suggested for addition in 1955 (4.8 mi N extension, $11.5 million to build; 2.4mi S extension, $10.3 million to build), and added to the state highway system in 1957 and 1959 as extensions to LRN 170.
Santa Ana Freeway. What is now US 101 from the downtown interchange south.
Santa Monica Freeway. See the Beverly Hills Freeway or the Olympic Freeway, although the 1957 Times maps shows all three: the Old Santa Monica Freeway (Beverly Hills Freeway), the Olympic Freeway (E of La Cienega), and a Santa Monica Freeway.
Saugus Expressway. This might have been an early planned routing for Route 126, although its angle seems a bit odd.
Seaside Freeway/Expressway. This was a portion of Route 47 that ran from present-day Route 110 to present-day Route 710. It was 6.8 mi, and was not originally in the state system. Portions may have been LRN 167; it isn't clear.
Slauson Freeway. Again, this shows on both, and on the 1947 plan. It was proposed in 1955 as the LRN 174 freeway, with a note that 26.8 mi in the state system could be substituted. It was distinct from the Century Freeway, and ran E from the Harbor Freeway. However, LRN 174 was Route 42 along Manchester (and eventually, the Century Freeway), so there was really no substitute. Portions of this were, however, LRN 221. In 1959, the LRN 221 route was extended with the addition of the LRN 176 portion from Route 42, which extended the route E from Route 39.
The overall routing of the freeway appeared to be what is now the Marina Freeway routing until the Slauson/La Cienega Freeway junction, and then along Slauson Blvd all the way down into Orange County.
Sunland Freeway. Post 1957, after the Simi Valley Freeway's route across the San Fernando Valley was defined, this corresponded to an extension of Route 118 from its present terminus to an originally planned Route 249, which shows much clearer on the 1965 plan.
In 1955, however, this was proposed as a new state route (no number given) that corresponded to a route between I-5 and I-210 (Golden State and Foothill Freeways), corresponding roughly to Sunland Blvd.
Temescal Freeway. This is what is now the Chino Hills Freeway, Route 71, combined with Route 57 (former Route 210) between Pomona and Glendora. Most of this was former LRN 77. In 1955, it was proposed that the Route 57 portion be added to LRN 77. Instead it was created as part of LRN 240 in 1959.
Topanga Canyon Freeway. Although both these maps show Topanga Canyon (Route 27) as freeway, I have no records showing it was ever planned as such (corrections, however, are welcome).
Venice Freeway. This also shows on both maps, and is in the state highway system as Route 187. It was proposed in 1955 as the LRN 163 freeway (5.3 mi), with a note that 2.2 mi in the state system can be substituted. It ran from the Ocean Freeway (Route 1) to the Olympic Freeway (now I-10) near La Cienega Blvd. It made up for a detour that the Ocean Freeway had to take around Marina Del Rey.
Whitnall Freeway. Here one can see the Whitnall Freeway in its full glory. It would have combined Route 258 and Route 64 to provide a north/south parallel to the Harbor Freeway, and an east/west parallel to US 101. There are some interesting points about this route. Route 64, as defined, continues across Malibu Canyon, thus including the Malibu Canyon Freeway shown on both maps.
Note that there are two variations of the Whitnall Freeway. One, apparently conceived of before the Simi Freeway was planned, ran from the city boundary near Devonshire and Topanga in a SE direction to intersect the Hollywood Freeway (Route 170) at about Vanowen (having previously intersected the Reseda Freeway near Reseda, the San Diego Freeway S of Roscoe, and the La Cienega Freeway near Coldwater Canyon). It then ran to Route 134, intersecting US 101 near Alameda in Burbank. It then continued to US 101 at Normandie, and then continued down Normandie to end at the Century Freeway. This routing was 27.9 mi, with an estimated cost of $133 million dollars!
After Route 118 was planned, the Whitnall had a change of direction. It then starting (in 1958) at the Decker Freeway (new alignment), and the following the route above.
By 1963, there was a different route in store. This time, it was the Route 64 freeway, and started near the Ocean Freeway and Malibu Canyon, running N to Bell Canyon. At that point, it turned W, and continued across the valley to meet at the mega interchange with the Route 170 and I-5 freeways.
On the eastern portion of the city, much is unchanged from 1947. There is still the East By-Pass, and the Rio Hondo Freeway; freeways that disappeared by 1963. Other well-known routes were still there or showed up for the first time: San Gabriel River, Long Beach, Pomona (not in 1947), Garden Grove.
The 1958 MTEB map also shows numerous expressways and additional freeways on new, and quite likely difficult to build, alignments—this certainly was the age of planning. Take a look for the following:
Luckily, a number of these proposals were abandoned, as can be seen in part 3.
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