News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.


By Joe Castillo

MacArthur Park  ….

Located on the westernmost part of Los Angeles, the park was built from a salt marsh in 1890. Appropriately named Westlake, it was renamed for the popular general in 1942. Wilshire Boulevard bisects the park, which originally stopped at its border by a causeway which was completed in 1941. The causeway was originally built by rival merchant groups. The western group wanted direct access to downtown Los Angeles while the eastern group was fearful of losing business to the Wilshire Boulevard establishment.  Ultimately, access was allowed to flow through from the east to the west. …First Freeways….. The 8.2 mile Pasadena Freeway was the first freeway in California. Connecting Los Angeles with Pasadena, the freeway opened in December 1940 and had its first traffic jam three days later when Rose Bowl traffic clogged the express. Today, it is considered too tight and curvy, with no place for emergencies.  By contrast, the San Diego Freeway is eight-lanes across and is expansive enough to carry the large volume of traffic that travels to the westside each day. The freeway system was planned in 1959, and covered 350 miles by the mid 60’s and then reached 1,500 miles in 1980. Today, the system continues to grow with express lanes, metro lines and expansions to the north, east and south. …. LA Zoo …. The first large zoo in modern times to be built and planned from scratch was the LA Zoo in Griffith Park. It opened in 1966 with enclosements for 3,200 animals and 3,500 cars. The zoo sits on 110-acres of barren land. Full-grown trees were replanted on the zoo property. The trees had been removed from the path of the newly built freeways…. Summer Festivals…. The Hollywood Bowl, opened in 1921, has been the home of countless musical performances. Originally a bandstand in the center of a weedy dell, the amphitheater now can hold in excess of 20,000 for one event and over 30,000 for a summer….. Playhouse…. The Pasadena Playhouse, a theater and school for dramatic arts may hold the record for continuous performances. The playhouse started in 1916 and moved to its current location in 1925. More significant plays have been shown and produced in the theater than any other venue. The California State Legislature named the playhouse the State Theater in 1937….  Railroads…. In 1885, the Santa Fe Railroad first arrived in Los Angeles and was welcomed with brass bands playing an assortment of songs. The Santa Fe was not planning to connect to Los Angeles but decided to compete with the Southern Pacific for western bound passengers. The competition reduced the fares from Missouri from $100 to $25, and was even $1 on a certain days. The two railroads brought hundreds of thousands of settlers into the Los Angeles area, many of which held land options with their railroad ticket….

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