Thursday, December 6, 2012

From the Archives: Before the Hollywood Freeway (US 101)

Caltrans Photo Archives

This is a picture of a planning model for the eventual construction of the Hollywood Freeway (US 101) through Downtown Los Angeles.  The picture was most likely taken in the late 1940s.  Back then Caltrans was known as the Division of Highways and Public Works.

During the growth and population boom of 1940s Los Angeles and the advent of the “freeway,” the landscape would never be the same once freeways began to traverse the city.  Construction for the historic US Highway 101 (Hollywood Freeway) in Downtown Los Angeles began in the early 40s but was completed by the late 40s and early 50s, as construction was disrupted by World War II. 

According to, construction of US 101 as freeway through downtown Los Angeles in 1949, reduced Fort Moore Hill to a stump and converted the section of Broadway between Temple St. and Sunset Blvd. from a tunnel to a freeway overpass.  This had the side effect of removing the Fort Moore Hill tunnel.  The freeway's construction also doomed the Hill Street tunnels, although the second tunnel through Fort Moore Hill would survive until 2004 as storage space for the Los Angeles Unified School District's archives.

Look closely and you will notice that many of today’s landmarks, the Plaza at Olvera Street, the Hall of Justice, and the Federal Court Building.