When the US Route System was created during November 1926 the plotted alignment of US Route 99 barely skirted the City of Los Angeles. US Route 99 originally followed what was Legislative Route Number 9 via a multiplex of US Route 66 from Pasadena to San Bernardino. From San Bernardino US Route 99 branched from US Route 66 following Legislative Route Number 26 towards Redlands. The corridor of US Route 99 was realigned onto a multiplex of US Route 60 and US Route 70 beginning in downtown Los Angeles towards Redlands starting in 1935. Pictured above is a sketch map of the proposed realignment of US Route 99 off Legislative Route Number 9 onto Legislative Route Number 26 in the Los Angeles-Redlands corridor submitted to the American Association of State Highway Officials during September 1934.
This blog is part of the larger Gribblenation US Route 99 Page. For more information pertaining to the other various segments of US Route 99 and it's three-digit child routes check out the link the below.
The history of the 1926-1934 Los Angeles-Redlands corridor of US Route 99
The emergence of the automobile in the early 20th Century led to the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act which was approved by voters during 1910. The majority of the highways approved as part of the First State Highway Bond Act were largely well-established routes such as the corridor between San Fernando east to San Bernardino. The corridor of San Fernando-San Bernardino was added as a State Highway as part of the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act and would come to be known as Legislative Route Number 9 (LRN 9). At the time of the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act the State of California could not maintain highways within the boundaries of incorporated cities.
LRN 9 is noted in the October 1912 California Highway Bulletin
to be plotted from Los Angeles eastward over 46 miles to Riverside. Oddly neither Los Angeles nor Riverside were ever part of the legislative definition of LRN 9. LRN 9 is noted to have not been yet surveyed.
The May 1913 California Highway Bulletin notes LRN 9 had been partially surveyed in Los Angeles County and fully surveyed in San Bernardino County. LRN 9A is noted as the Riverside County extension of LRN 9 and fully surveyed.
The May 1913 California Highway Bulletin notes the combined route of LRN 9 and LRN 9A had a planned 105 miles of highway.
In April of 1912 the National Old Trails Road (NOTR) was organized with the goal of signing a trans-continental highway between Baltimore and Los Angeles. Building a modern road for automotive use through the Mojave Desert of California would prove to be particularly difficult as State Highway Maintenance didn't exist, and the general path of travel was alongside the service routes of railroads. The first Auto Trail through Cajon Pass was the Santa Fe-Grand Canyon Needles National Highway which was first signed in Cajon Pass by 1913. NOTR organizers later adopted the routing of the Santa Fe-Grand Canyon Needles National Highway in the western United States by 1914. The NOTR was able secure funding to pave the route through Cajon Pass and construct the 1914 Crowder Canyon Bridge.
FHWA.dot.gov National Old Trails Road
From San Bernardino beginning at Mount Vernon Avenue/4th Street the NOTR followed existing LRN 9 westbound to Pasadena. Upon reaching Pasadena the NOTR branched away from LRN 9. The NOTR westbound jogged south on Santa Anita Avenue to Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena and departed towards Los Angeles via Fair Oaks Avenue. The NOTR followed Fair Oaks Avenue, Huntington Drive and Broadway into downtown Los Angeles where it terminated at the intersection of Broadway and 7th Street. The early NOTR can be seen on the 1916 National Old Trails Road map below.
The July 1914 California Highway Bulletin notes the progress of LRN 9. LRN 9 Los Angeles County Segment A is noted to have been surveyed from LRN 4/San Fernadno Road to La Canada Flintridge. LRN 9 Los Angeles County Segment B is noted to have been surveyed from La Canada Flintridge to Pasadena. LRN 9 San Bernardino County Segment A from Upland to Cirtus Avenue is stated to be approximately 36% complete. LRN 9 San Bernardino County Segment B is noted to be surveyed from Citrus Avenue to Rialto. LRN 9 San Bernardino County Segment C from Rialto to San Bernardino is stated to be 82% complete. LRN 9 San Bernardino County Segment D from the Los Angeles County Line to Upland is stated to be 15% complete. The July 1914 California Highway Bulletin is unclear what happened to LRN 9A to Riverside.
The January 1915 California Highway Bulletin noted 17.9 miles of LRN 9 was completed whereas 31.8 miles was surveyed.
What became LRN 26 and LRN 27 were added to the State Highway System as part of the 1916 Second State Highway Bond Act. The initial definition of LRN 26/LRN 27 was as follows:
"an extension of the San Bernardino county State Highway lateral (LRN 9) to the Arizona State line near the town of Yuma, Arizona, via the cities of Brawley and El Centro in Imperial County by the most direct and practical route..."
The addition to LRN 26 and LRN 27 can be seen in the July 1916 California Highway Bulletin. LRN 26 by proxy connected San Bernardino to Redlands via 3rd Street, E Street, Colton Avenue and Redlands Avenue.
The NOTR and National Park-to-Park Highway can be seen following LRN 9 from San Bernardino to Pasadena on the 1924 Rand McNally Map of California. Both highways are shown splitting from LRN 9 in Pasadena towards downtown Los Angeles.
The new Pacoima Wash Bridge on LRN 9 near San Fernando is featured in the June 1924 California Highways & Public Works.
The October 1924 California Highways & Public Works features paving operations on LRN 9/Foothill Boulevard in Azusa.
The October 1925 California Highways & Public Works references LRN 9 between San Fernando and La Canada Flintridge as the "Foothill Boulevard."
The October 1925 California Highways & Public Works notes 5.49 miles of LRN 9 between San Bernardino to Redlands was contracted to widened from 12 feet to 20 feet.
The January 1926 California Highways & Public Works notes a realignment project was underway on LRN 9 between San Fernando and La Canada Flintridge.
The initial draft of the US Route System was approved by the Secretary of Agriculture during November of 1925. The US Route System within California was approved by California Highway Commission ("CHC") with no changes recommended which can be seen in January 1926 California Highways & Public Works. US Route 99 (US 99) is given a vague description which had it multiplex with US 60 (not quite yet US 66) from Los Angeles to San Bernardino via LRN 9. US 99 is shown following LRN 26 from San Bernardino to Redlands onwards to the Sonoran Desert.
Thusly planned US 99 and US 60 appear on the 1925 Rand McNally Map of California. Both US 99 and US 60 are shown diverging from LRN 9 towards downtown Los Angeles. The divergence of US 99 and US 60 from State Maintained LRN 9 is likely due to Los Angeles being used as a control point in both of their route descriptions.
The March 1926 California Highways & Public Works
announced the realignment of LRN 9 between San Fernando and La Canada Flintridge had been completed aside from a small exception in the vicinity of Big Tujunga Wash.
The US Route System was formally approved by the American Association of State Highway Engineers (AASHO) on November 11th, 1926. The AASHO route description of US 99 states it was to follow LRN 4 over the Ridge Route from Bakersfield into Los Angeles. From Los Angeles US 99 is only described as having a next route point in San Bernardino. From the initial route description of US 99 it is unclear where it transitioned to LRN 9 and began to multiplex US 66. US 66 is described as following LRN 9 from San Bernardino west to San Fernando where it would have terminated.
In a letter dated March 1st, 1927, from California State Highway Engineer R.M. Morton replied to AASHO Executive Secretary W.C. Markham conveying it was the understanding of the State that US 66 ended in San Fernando. The letter does not describe the routing of US 99 in the Los Angeles-San Bernardino corridor.
In a letter dated April 21st, 1927, from California State Highway Engineer R.M. Morton wrote to AASHO Executive Secretary W.C. Markham regarding numerous US Route topics. The western terminus of US 66 in San Fernando, how US 66 did not touch the City Limits of Los Angeles and the omission of Pasadena from the US 66 Route Description are expounded upon. Notably R.M. Morton states the description of US 99 would have it jog south into Los Angeles and then follow a multiplex of US 66 east to San Bernardino. It is unclear in the letter where US 99 would have been located in the City of Los Angeles or where it would have begun to multiplex US 66 to San Bernardino.
On April 26th, 1927, W.C. Markham wrote in a letter to California Highway Commission Office Engineer L.T. Cambell stating it would be preferable to have US 66 end somewhere in Los Angeles. W.C. Markham noted US 66 was already being promoted as the primary highway in the Chicago-Los Angeles Corridor. W.C. Markham goes onto suggest that it would be helpful if signage of the western terminus of US 66 was placed in the nearest convenient location within the City of Los Angeles. The terminus of US 66 in San Fernando is described as a technical error and that the last City on the Route Description should be Los Angeles.
US 66 is displayed in the January 1928 California Highways & Public Works
as terminating in Los Angeles via San Fernando. This seems to imply US 66 was to be signed somewhere via multiplex of US 99 on San Fernando Road into the City Limits of Los Angeles. US 99 is described as passing through Los Angeles and traversing Pasadena towards San Bernardino.
Prior to 1933 the Division of Highways was not actively involved in maintaining urban highways outside of occasional cooperative projects. The responsibility for signage of US Routes in cities was thusly given to the Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) in the Southern California region. The signing of the US Routes within California by the Auto Clubs did not begin until 1928.
The January 1928 California Highways & Public Works
announced numerous upcoming improvements to LRN 9 between San Fernando and San Bernardino. Several new bridges along with surfacing are announced for LRN 9 from La Canada Flintridge to Pasadena. Grading and surfacing between Pasadena-Monrovia on US 99/US 66/LRN 9 is announced. A realignment of US 99/US 66/LRN 9 between Monrovia and Azusa is announced along with surfacing. Surfacing along US 99/US 66LRN 9 between San Dimas-Claremont is announced. A realignment of US 99/US 66/LRN 9 between Glendora-San Dimas is also announced.
The July/August 1928 California Highways & Public Works
announced US 99/LRN 26 between San Bernardino and Redlands had been fully reconstructed by October 1927. Nine miles of US 99/US 66/LRN 9 west of San Bernardino is described as having been recently expanded to 30 feet.
The first true evidence of the initial alignment of US 99 near Los Angeles can be found on the 1930 Division of Highways Map
. US 99 is shown on the City Insert to bypass Los Angeles entirely via direct routing via multiplex of US 66 on LRN 9 from San Fernando to Pasadena via Michigan Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. It is unclear if this is temporary alignment of US 99 given Fletcher Drive and Eagle Rock Boulevard are not displayed (which will become important below).
Notably the 1930 Division of Highways Map also displays US 99 following LRN 4 via San Fernando Road into Los Angeles. The map is not detailed enough to display a clear routing, but it seems to be implied that US 99 jogged from San Fernando Road towards Pasadena via Fletcher Drive, Eagle Rock Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard. This routing is more consistent with the initial AASHO description of US 99.
Despite the unclear alignment of US 99 displayed in Los Angeles on the 1930 Division of Highways Map the alignment east to Redlands is clear. US 99 multiplexed US 66 east from Pasadena following LRN 9 on Foothill Boulevard to Monrovia. From Monrovia US 99/US 66 continued following LRN 9 via Shamrock Avenue briefly south to Arcadia and east on Center Street (now Huntington Drive) towards Azusa. From Azusa US 99/US 66/LRN 9 followed Alosta Avenue through Glendora and Mesa Avenue (now Foothill Boulevard) to La Verne. From La Verne US 99/US 66/LRN 9 followed Foothill Boulevard through Claremont and Upland towards Fontana. From Fontana US 99/US 66/LRN 9 followed San Bernardino Avenue (now Foothill Boulevard) into San Bernardino. In San Bernardino US 99/US 66 followed LRN 9 via 4th Street to Mount Vernon Avenue. US 99 followed Mount Vernon south from 4th Street whereas US 66 split north towards Cajon Pass. US 99 followed the implied path of LRN 9 in San Bernardino via Mouth Vernon Avenue and 3rd Street towards E Street. US 99 followed E Street to LRN 26 at Colton Avenue and swung eastwards to Redlands.
The Los Angeles City Council
meeting notes from February 5th, 1930, explicitly state that the US Routes were not yet signed within Los Angeles. The Los Angeles City Council did elect have the ACSC sign US 99 and US 101 during the February 5th, 1930, meeting but not US 66. US 99 is stated to have been approved to be signed via San Fernando Road south from the Glendale city limit to Avenue 20. The Los Angeles City Council did not elect to select a signed routing to Pasadena beyond Avenue 20. Note: traffic from San Fernando Road near Avenue 20 could have easily accessed previous routing of the NOTR via Broadway towards Pasadena.
1931 Legislative Chapter 82 extended LRN 26 via new segment defined as "near Colton via Pomona to Los Angeles." The extension of LRN 26 to Los Angeles City Limit would become impactful in altering the US Route network of Southern California, including US 99.
A letter by the AASHO Executive Secretary to the California State Highway Engineer dated March 30th, 1931, notes US 60 had been approved to be extended to Los Angeles on May 26th, 1930. It is noted that no exact routing of US 60 had been decided upon due to the questionable status the road network in states party to the extension. It is noted that the Arizona State Legislature was attempting to take action to purchase the tolled Eherenburg Bridge over the Colorado River as part of US 60.
The California State Highway Engineer noted in a letter to the AASHO Executive Secretary dated April 13th, 1931, that the Eherenburg Bridge was to be purchased by the States of California and Arizona.
In a letter by the California State Highway Engineer to the AASHO Executive Secretary dated September 8th, 1931, the California State Highway attached the route description of US 60 in California. From the Arizona State Line US 60 followed LRN 64 west to US 99/LRN 26 in Mecca. US 60 is displayed multiplexing US 99 west on LRN 26 to Beaumont where it branched off into the Moreno Valley Badlands via LRN 19. US 60 is shown following LRN 19 west to Pomona where it picked up LRN 26 again and followed it into downtown Los Angeles.
The first three Figueroa Street Tunnels opened between Riverside Drive and Solano Avenue in October of 1931 which routed traffic through Elysian Park. The Figueroa Street Tunnels would ultimately end up becoming a key piece of the future Arroyo Seco Parkway and the future of US 99 in Los Angeles.
An exchange of letters dated to November/December 1931 between C.H. Purcell the California State Highway Engineer and W.C. Markham Executive Secretary of the AASHO provides insight to where US 99 was located in Los Angeles. The Division of Highways conveyed a desire to split US 66 into a mainline routing terminating at US 101 in downtown Los Angeles and an Alternate Route which bypassed downtown towards US 101 at Sunset Boulevard. The AASHO recommended extending US 66 to Santa Monica so that they Mainline and Alternate Route would have a meet up point via US 101.
Ultimately the Division of Highways is shown to not have wanted a US 66 ending in Santa Monica whereas the AASHO didn't want dual terminus points. Of note, the documents show the terminus point for US 66 as ending at US 99/San Fernando Road via Fletcher Drive. US 99 is implied to multiplex US 66 via Fletcher Drive, Eagle Rock Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard to downtown Pasadena. US 99/US 66 would have followed Colorado Boulevard east through Pasadena to Santa Anita Avenue to reach LRN 9 at Foothill Boulevard.
US 99 would have multiplexed US 66 over the Arroyo Seco via the Colorado Street Bridge. The Colorado Street Bridge is a concrete arch span which opened to traffic on December 12th, 1913. Below the Colorado Street Bridge can be seen in photos taken in 2011.
An exchange of letters by the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and the AASHO Executive Secretary between January-March 1932 the former expressed a desire to move US 99/US 66 off of LRN 9/Foothill Boulevard via the East Colorado Street Extension to Arcadia. The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce noted the jog in US 99/US 66 was indirect and did not serve through traffic well. The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce stated they were instructed to petition the AASHO to move US 99/US 66 onto the East Colorado Street Extension by the California State Highway Engineer. The AASHO Executive Secretary deferred making a decision to reroute US 99/US 66 onto the East Colorado Street Extension to the California State Highway Engineer given it was an intrastate matter.
1933 was a landmark year in terms of Statewide transportation. The State Legislature removed restrictions that prevented State Funds from being used to maintain urban roadways. This change by the Legislature led to the addition of numerous urban highways being adopted. A notable immediate effect was the addition of LRN 161
which added the East Colorado Street Extension as a State Highway. California Highways Highway Chronology Chapter 3; A Significant System is Created 1933-1946
One of the 1933 additions to the State Highway system was LRN 165 which was routed from San Pedro to La Canada via Figueroa Street. The addition of LRN 165 made the three completed Figueroa Street Tunnels part of the State Highway System and led into the construction of the fourth southernmost tunnel. Figueroa Street Tunnels once completed between Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles would serve as a much more direct corridor with more traffic capacity than early alignments of US 99 and US 66.
State Maintenance of LRN 26 and US 60 was extended to downtown Los Angeles to Aliso Street during 1933. A series of September 1934, letters by the California State Highway Engineer to the AASHO Executive Secretary noted a recommendation to move US 99 from Los Angeles to Redlands via LRN 26 through Pomona and Colton. The California State Highway Engineer noted traffic on US 99 would be better served traversing downtown Los Angeles and utilizing US 60/LRN 26 directly to reach Redlands. Notably the alignment the sketch map provided by the California State Highway Engineer shows existing US 99 following San Fernando Road to US 66 at Arroyo Seco Avenue and a multiplex on US 66/LRN 165 via Figueroa Street to Colorado Boulevard.
The same exchange of letters also notes US 70 had been extended into California with an endpoint following US 60/LRN 26 into downtown Los Angeles. The routing definition of US 70 indicated it would multiplex US 99/US 60 east from downtown Los Angeles to Pomona and onward to US 60 east to Beaumont.
Prior to the fourth Figuroa Street Tunnel being completed during 1936 US 99 used an interim alignment to reach downtown Los Angeles multiplexed with US 66. US 99/US 66 followed Solano Avenue and Broadway into downtown where they met US 101/LRN 2 at Sunset Boulevard.
Looking to explore the 1935-1963 alignment of US Route 99 between Los Angeles and Redlands?
Continuing north on US Route 99 to the Ridge Route?
Continuing south on US Route 99 to Calimesa?