L A is a great big freeway.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s I witnessed the excavation and construction of some of the first so-called Freeways in southern California. However, the first real freeway was constructed about the same time I was born and it went into service just after that. An uninterrupted 20-mile six-lane road with a hundred-yard-wide swath carved out of homes and hills from Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles. All with no traffic lights nor any stop or yield signs. And I might add six ‘narrow’ lanes by today’s standards. Known today as the Pasadena Freeway. Some had called it the world’s largest parking lot.
But then came the Harbor freeway headed south an extension of the Pasadena to the L A harbor. Next was the Hollywood freeway going north and the same road going south was the Santa Ana Freeway. The two divided by the “bottle-neck” tunnel near the Brew 102 building. Today part of Interstate-5. Later the Santa Ana continued on to San Diego and the Hollywood is part of Interstate-5 going up into the Grapevine over and down into the central valley. And again, excavating and taking out wide swaths of homes, schools, churches, businesses, and more
My dad and mom with my older siblings had to move from their house on Indiana Avenue due to a carving out of the road bed for the Santa Ana Freeway. Such was progress.
Then came the Long Beach freeway from the Long Beach Harbor to almost to Pasadena. Taking out homes and businesses near where my cousin Bill lived in Bandini. Crossing high above the Union Pacific switching yards and the newly constructed Santa Ana Freeway. Continuing on for dozens of miles with a wide swath.
Then there was what some called the San Gabriel River Freeway cutting through a large residential area in Whittier dividing many communities. Not sure if they settled on a name of this freeway and just called it “The 605.”
Then there was the San Diego Freeway or “The 405.” A very long stretch of freeway from the foothills going up into the “Grapevine.” The same road going south was engineered to more or less circumvent most of greater Los Angeles county ending up on “The 5” near northern San Diego county headed for San Diego.
Now there are numerous connector freeways. Such as The 210, the110, the dozens and dozens of connectors; all extending from “The 10, the 5, and the 15 freeways.
Then the freeways off the Interstate system. The Pomona or “60-Freeway.” The Santa Monica, the Golden State, the San Bernardino, and dozens more. All of which takes up thousands of acres of L A county land. Land taken by the state through Eminent Domain. Condemning land and people’s property for public purposes. Never mind the housing shortage. Taking thousands of homes and apartments in its wide swath.
To me the crowning monument of this so-called progress is “The Five Level Interchange.” Seen just off the Harbor freeway.
So here is my suggestion to resolve the housing shortage and it’s attending problem of “Homelessness.”
Remove or deconstruct the connector freeways. Opening up hundreds of acres between the main Interstates. Resulting in a land run never seen before. Enough acreage to create small cities. Acreage to build homes and small businesses. This may seem unrealistic but think about it. Just the de-construction of these connectors would create hundreds or thousands of jobs. And again, opening land to build housing enough to possibly house people near where they work. Building small homes for the homeless as well.
We should seriously think about this and hopefully do it. L A need not be a great big freeway. It could be a nice place to live.