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2nd Street and 3rd Street Tunnels in Los Angeles

While visiting Los Angeles recently I stopped at the 2nd Street and 3rd Street Tunnels through Bunker Hill.


Bunker Hill is a large hill located in downtown Los Angeles.  Traditionally Bunker Hill was physical barrier which separated neighborhoods of Los Angeles.  Beginning in the late 1860s developers began to construct Victorian style homes on top of Bunker Hill.  As people began to move to Bunker Hill there was an increasing need to route traffic efficiently through the neighborhood.

The first tunnel to be built through Bunker Hill was on 3rd Street in 1901 from Hill Street west to Flower Street.  The 3rd Street Tunnel has a utilitarian appearance which to the eye masks true age of the structure.

 
The 3rd Street Tunnel was built next to the original Angel's Flight incline railroad which moved pedestrian traffic uphill to Olive Street.  The original Angel's Flight operated until 1969 when it was removed for neighborhood redevelopment. A second Angele's Flight was opened in 1996 between Hill Street and Grand Avenue a half block from the 3rd Street Tunnel. 

The 3rd Street Tunnel was joined in 1909 by the Hill Street Tunnels which was located just north of Bunker Hill in what is known as Fort Moore Hills.  The Hill Street Tunnels were located in what is now Grand Park and US 101 on the Santa Ana Freeway.   Construction of the Santa Ana Freeway ultimately led to the Hill Street Tunnels along with the nearby 1901 Broadway Tunnel being razed in 1949.   Photos of these tunnels can be found on the link below:

Lost Tunnels of downtown Los Angeles

The 2nd Street Tunnel is by far the most well known tunnel in the Bunker Hill neighborhood.  The 2nd Street Tunnel was under construction from 1916 until it was completed in 1924.  The Hill Street Tunnel runs between Hill Street to South Figueroa Street and ultimately was constructed to relieve traffic in the 3rd Street Tunnel.  The 2nd Street Tunnel is far more ornate than the 3rd Street Tunnel and features white tiles which reflect light.  The 2nd Street Tunnel is over 1,500 feet in length and until 2013 allowed room for four-lanes of automotive traffic.


Most significant the 2nd Street Tunnel was part of the first alignment of US 101 before it was shifted to 7th Street in 1929.  More can be found on this article written by Scott Parker on AAroads.

AAroads on early US 101/LRN 2

The 2nd Street Tunnel is frequently featured in movies and has made several notable appearances.  The 2nd Street Tunnel can be seen in the below clip in Blade Runner starting at 0:53:


The 2nd Street Tunnel is featured in the absurd "Boomer will live" sequence of Independence Day:


Which is the source of the below meme from the ancient days of Youtube:


Bunker Hill was extensively redeveloped and lowered starting in the 1950s.  While Bunker Hill still exists it is not the steep residential neighborhood that once necessitated road tunnels being built.  Much of the current skyline of Los Angeles presently centers around the Bunker Hill neighborhood.

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