The Arroyo Seco Parkway is an 8.16-mile section of freeway which traverses from the FourLevel Interchange in downtown Los Angeles northward to Pasadena. The Arroyo Seco Parkway is currently designated as part of California State Route 110 but is more widely known as being a classic component of US Route 66. While US Route 66 used the entirety of the Arroyo Seco Parkway the freeway also carried US Route 6, US Route 99 and California State Route 11 at different points throughout its long history. The Arroyo Seco Parkway is one of the oldest freeways in the United States. Featured as the blog cover is Figueroa Street at Solano Avenue in 1940 before the Figueroa Street Tunnels were converted to northbound service on the Arroyo Seco Parkway.
The earliest route description of US 66 by the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) has the highway technically ending in San Fernando. The AASHO had approved the creation of the US Route System on November 11th, 1926.
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 7th Street and Broadway. The early NOTR can be seen on the 1916 National Old Trails Road map developed by the Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC).
According to the California Historic Route 66 Association pre-1932 ACSC records indicate that the routing of early US 66 was concurrent with that of the NOTR between Pasadena and Los Angeles. In that sense it would be fair to say that 7th Street and Broadway as the original terminus of US 66 was simply an overlay of NOTR. It is unclear if the ACSC ever replaced NOTR signage with US 66 to 7th Street and Broadway, but the Los Angeles City Council minutes suggest they did not (see below for February 5th, 1930).
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 with no changes recommended which can be seen in the January 1926 California Highways & Public Works. Planned US Route 60 is stated to be planned to follow the NOTR from the Arizona State Line to a terminus in Los Angeles. This only California Highways & Public Works to infer US 60 (and US 66) was planned to completely overlay the NOTR. At this point the Chicago-Los Angeles US Route was still planned to be designated US 60. US 60 of course would become US 66 when the US Route System was finalized on November 11th, 1926.
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.
California Highways Highway Chronology Chapter 3; A Significant System is Created 1933-1946
One of the 1933 additions to the State Highway system was Legislative Route Number 165 (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 to the construction of the fourth southernmost tunnel. Figueroa Street once completed between Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles would serve as a much more direct corridor with more traffic capacity than earlier NOTR.
CAhighways.org on LRN 165
Much of the early US Route system around Los Angeles was heavily altered after 1933. During 1934 US 99 was realigned off a multiplex of US 66 from Pasadena-San Bernardino (LRN 9) to a new alignment which took it to Redlands via downtown Los Angeles, Pomona and Colton on LRN 26. The attached sketch map implies US 66 was aligned through the Figueroa Street Tunnels, Solano Avenue and Broadway to a terminus at US 101/Sunset Boulevard.
Amusingly the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce had already announced the formal extension of US 66 which can be seen in the July 2nd, 1935, Santa Monica Outlook. The article stub notes US 66 was to be extended back to Ocean Avenue via Santa Monica Boulevard. The article notes the change of California State Route 3 on Roosevelt Highway to US 101A as being critical in making the extension of US 66 to Santa Monica Official.
The planned Arroyo Seco Parkway extension through Elysian Park to downtown Los Angeles is featured in the October 1940 California Highways & Public Works.
By 1961 the Golden State Freeway is shown on the State Highway Map City insert connecting to the Pasadena Freeway. US 99 is still shown multiplexing US 6/US 66/CA 11 on the Pasadena Freeway to the Four Level Interchange in 1961.
The 1962 State Highway Map City insert shows the Golden State Freeway bypass of downtown Los Angeles was completed. Consequently US 99 is shown being routed off the Pasadena Freeway onto the new Golden State Freeway bypass of downtown Los Angeles
2nd Street and 3rd Street Tunnels in Los Angeles
After descending Bunker Hill via 2nd Street to Broadway. Once on Broadway I began walking towards the 7th Street.
At the southeast corner of Broadway and 3rd Street is the location of the Bradbury Building. The Bradbury Building is a five-story high rise office building constructed in 1893 which has become a designated US 66 landmark. The Bradbury Building is mostly known for being the location of several scenes in the movie Blade Runner.
Broadway is signed with various marques directing pedestrian traffic to the numerous districts of downtown Los Angeles. Despite ssome modern skyscrapers popping up in the background the look of Broadway still fits the feel of what one might assume to see on an early urban US Route.
At Broadway and 7th Street I met what was in ACSC records once as the original terminus of US 66 and for certain the Los Angeles branch of the NOTR
Suffice to say there are many errors on the above placard as illustrated in Part 1. When I took this picture in 2019, I was certain that 7th Street and Broadway was the original terminus of US 66. Suffice to say three years of research (this blog was originally published on 6/10/19 and is being updated on 2/27/22) really has cast doubt if 7th Street and Broadway was signed as anything but terminus of the Los Angeles branch of the NOTR. Regardless of what was going with the terminus of US 66 the terminus NOTR is of enough historical importance that it probably should be celebrated.
Exit 23A on CA 110/Harbor Freeway northbound accesses 6th Street.
Exit 23B on CA 110/Harbor Freeway northbound accesses 4th Street whereas 3rd Street is accessed via Exit 23C.
CA 110/Harbor Freeway northbound approaches the Four Level Interchange. Access to the Santa Ana Freeway is presently signed as US 101 south to Interstate 5/Interstate 10/CA 60 whereas it once was US 99/US 101 south. Access to the Hollywood Freeway is signed as US 101 north whereas it would have once been US 101 north/US 66 west. CA 110 continues northward onto the Arroyo Seco Parkway and would have once carried; US 66 east/US 6 east/US 99 north/CA 11 north. Truck traffic is advised of they are prohibited on the Arroyo Seco Parkway. The truck prohibition on the Arroyo Seco Parkway dates back to 1943.
The Arroyo Seco Parkway begins north of the Four Level Interchange. The older character of the Arroyo Seco Parkway is evident immediately due to the button-copy signage and older Arc Deco bridge structures. CA 110 north on the Arroyo Seco Parkway accesses Stadium Way via Exit 24.
CA 110 north on the Arroyo Seco Parkway proceeds into the 1936 Figueroa Street Tunnel. The 1936 Figueroa Street Tunnel is the longest of the four tunnels at 755 feet in length. Academy Road and Solano Avenue are signed as being accessible from Exit 25. Before the completion of the fourth Figueroa Street Tunnel the alignment of US 66/US 99/CA 11 made a right-hand turn towards Broadway via Solano Avenue.
The next three Figueroa Street Tunnels were completed in 1931. The next northward tunnel is 461 feet in length.