Historic U.S. 101 - Los Angeles County
History of U.S. 101 Route Changes (1924-1964)
Written by Scott Parker for AARoads
During the entire first iteration of the California state highway systm, in which all routes were separately defined by legislative and field-signed designations, U.S. 101, in the region addressed, was entirely designated as State Legislative Route (SLR) 2 until the 1946-1959 construction of the Santa Ana Freeway (and its south Orange County extension, the San Diego Freeway), at which time that designation was gradually rerouted over other legislative routes (i.e., Legislative Routes 166 and 174); the exact correlation of which will be discussed within each appropriate section. The routings will be divided into linear sections (south to north, except where following an alternate progression is appropriate); the division points will correspond with points at which the routing was altered during the course of the route-s history. Thus, some divisions will be necessarily longer than others (some will be measured in the tens of miles, while others might be as short as a few city blocks).
The protocol for this system is as follows: The route revisions will be referenced by original (1st iteration) route section -- e.g., if the first revision affects section (3) of that original entry, the revision entry will also be listed as (3); if subsequent reroutings are in fact revisions of prior route changes, the reference will be to the more recent iteration.
Original Route of U.S. 101 over SLR 2 (Winter 1924)
The original Route 2 was, in essence, a "connect-the-dots" route serving the metro areas of San Diego and greater Los Angeles (including, at that time, Orange County) before continuing its route through coastal populated areas of the south-central coastline (Ventura, Santa Barbara). It would then go north through Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo before surmounting the southern Santa Lucia range to the Salinas Valley, which it utilized to reach the Monterey Bay plain. Its route toward the Santa Clara Valley and San Francisco Bay would itself have several iterations before the route that is present-day U.S. 101 was constructed in the mid-1930s.
Once in San Jose, it followed what is now California 82 into San Francisco, where it over the course of its history followed a myriad of street alignments to reach, at first the Ferry Building (where it embarked on a waterbound voyage to Marin County) and, later, the southern approach to the Golden Gate Bridge (where the tollbooth facility marked Legislative Route 2' ultimate north terminus). Within the greater Los Angeles area, it traversed the downtown sections of most of the original, and, by this time, incorporated cities and townships of the region, including Santa Ana, Anaheim, Fullerton, Whittier, and Montebello. This took Route 2, and with it U.S. 101, along a broad arc encompassing central and northern Orange County and the southern foothills of the Puente Hills, which separated the coastal plain from the San Gabriel Valley.
This arc was certainly not the direct route between the two principal population centers of the day (Los Angeles and Santa Ana, ironically much as today); it did not, as per usual Division of Highways practice, follow the main rail lines: Santa Fe, which more or less copied Route 2 to Fullerton but from there took off on a low-level line to central L.A., which would have been a beeline except for a broad S-curve via Santa Fe Springs, which, as can be deduced from the area-s name, was an aquifer that supplied water to the rail line (steam locomotives, of course, required both clean water and flammable fuel) as well as the site of an early oilfield (providing income and fuel oil to the railroad). The second rail line was the Southern Pacific, which was a straight-as-an-arrow line from south-central Los Angeles to Anaheim, where it split into several branches which served the numerous citrus-packing plants that dominated Orange County until after World War II.
But the circuitous Route 2 alignment was, in plain terms, the result of wielded political power. The area along the foothills of northern Orange County and the Whittier-La Habra area was the "heartland" of the California Republican party; state legislators from the area dominated policymaking in the 1920' through the early 1960's; later spreading its influence south to encompass all of Orange County, the area produced such national political figures as Richard Nixon and Sen. Thomas Kuchel (in office 1953-69), the fiscally conservative but socially moderate politico who served as minority whip during his last eight years in the Senate. In short, if interests in the area wanted the regional "main drag" to serve the cities in their region, it was, in effect, a "done deal." So U.S. 101 took the leisurely path between central Orange County and central Los Angeles for over thirty years -- until the coming of the freeway system.
- San Diego/Orange County line to Laguna Canyon Road (SLR-185, subsequently California 133): From north end of Camp Pendleton, traversed El Camino Real through central San Clemente north to divergence of SLR-60/original California 3 (Alternate U.S. 101 from 1937-1964), now California 1. This route was marked as Business Interstate 5 until approximately 1989; it is unclear if any residual signage remains. At that divergence, turned inland via present Camino Capistrano through eastern Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano, intersecting SLR-64/present California 74 at Ortega Highway in downtown SJC. Continued north on Camino Capistrano, which runs between present Interstate 5 to the east and the Metrolink (former Santa Fe) rail line to the west. Original concrete-railed bridges dating from the mid-1930' can be found on Camino Capistrano between Crown Valley and Oso Parkways immediately west of the Interstate 5 alignment. Immediately north of Oso Parkway the route crossed over the Santa Fe tracks, subsequently following Cabot Road north to La Paz Road. At that point the alignment veered to the northwest away from the rail line; this section was completely subsumed by the present Interstate 5, which continued to overlay the original 1924 alignment, called Trabuco Road north of La Paz Road, to the location of the present Interstate 5/CA-133 interchange. Interstate 5 veers northeast across the Metrolink tracks; the original U.S. 101 alignment remained west of the tracks to the original Laguna Canyon Road (renamed Sand Canyon Road in 1959, when the original 2-lane Laguna Canyon expressway between the nascent Interstate 5/US 101 Santa Ana Freeway and the San Joaquin foothills was constructed in conjunction with the freeway). At Laguna Canyon Road, U.S. 101 turned northeast and crossed the Santa Fe tracks at grade.
- Laguna Canyon Road to Tustin: U.S. 101 used Laguna (Sand) Canyon Road northeast to the present Trabuco Road alignment, then turned northwest on what is present Trabuco Road (that roadway name "jogged" with U.S. 101 and has remained on this portion), which presently extends to the Interstate 5/Culver Road interchange. At that point it is once again subsumed by Interstate 5, which overlays the Trabuco Road trajectory to the Tustin city limits at what is now Jamboree Road (adjacent to the present California 261 toll road). At that point the road name reverted to El Camino Real; vestiges of that road exist today as the east side Interstate 5 frontage road northwest of Red Hill Avenue That frontage road veers away from the southeast -NW trajectory of Interstate 5 just past the Newport Avenue interchange, heading due north through the original Tustin downtown area.
- Tustin to Santa Ana/Orange city line: U.S. 101 continued north on El Camino Real to East First Street. It then turned due west on First Street to the intersection of Main Street in downtown Santa Ana, passing SLR-43/CA-55 at Tustin Avenue (immediately west of the present California 55 freeway), SLR-181 at Grand Avenue (one of the numerous unsigned state routes in central Orange County, many of which had been decommissioned before the 1964 mass renumbering), and extending to Main. The intersection of First and Main was a major (albeit unsigned) junction point; continuing west on First was SLR-183, which eventually extended on Bolsa Avenue to Pacific Coast Highway (SLR-60, now California 1) near Seal Beach; this route was decommissioned in 1942 when the Navy severed the route to expand their ammunition and fuel storage facility during WW II. Due south on Main St. was SLR-184; this eventually became the original alignment of California 73 (which was signed south of California 55 after 1968 but never signed north of there). SLR-2/US 101 turned north on Main St. here, extending to the Santa Ana/Orange city line at what is now the intersection of North Main St. and Owens Drive, a block north of the present Interstate 5/Main St. overcrossing/interchange (the city limits were shifted north to the path of the California 22 freeway in 1963, allowing Santa Ana to include the Main Place shopping mall in their tax rolls, while Orange got the Town & Country complex on the east side of Main St., complete with its office complexes, in return). This stretch of street also included the junction with SLR-179/CA-22 at the intesection of North Main and Santa Clara Avenue (originally 23rd Street); the intersecting route extended west toward Garden Grove. About 1 - blocks north of this intersection was the grade crossing with the SP Santa Ana branch; that rail line was to be a crucial element of later rerouting schemes.
- Santa Ana/Orange city line to the present Interstate 5/Katella Avenue interchange in Anaheim: SLR-2/US 101 continued north on Main St. to Chapman Avenue , turning left there onto the latter street. Eastbound Chapman Avenue was unsigned SLR-182, which extended east through Orange to Santiago Canyon Road in the foothills (considered a part of renumbered California 22 east of California 55 in 1964-65, when the alignment was decommissioned). The original alignment followed Chapman Avenue west to approximately the location of today-s Lewis Avenue intersection (incidentally, the site of the Crystal Cathedral today). At that point the route diverged north, turning north-northwestseveral blocks north of Chapman Avenue The alignment does not exist today, having been overlaid after the first local rerouting with a combination of housing tracts and mobile home parks. The trajectory of this route, named Los Angeles Street, took it to the present Interstate 5/Katella Avenue interchange in south Anaheim, east of Disneyland. It should be noted that this route also intersected SLR-180/later unsigned California 250 at the intersection of Chapman and Placentia Avenue , located along the east side of the SP underpass on Chapman (now the Interstate 5/Chapman Avenue interchange).
- Present Interstate 5 and Katella interchange to Whittier/Washington/Santa Fe Springs intersection in Whittier. This was the longest single stretch not to be the object of rerouting efforts until early 1957, when U.S. 101 signage was relocated to the Santa Ana Freeway; this section was not to be re-signed until early 1969, when California 72 was signed over its length (albeit only along the route itself; it was never cited on freeway interchange signage). This section extended along Los Angeles Street (today-s Anaheim Boulevard) north through downtown Anaheim, intersecting SLR-178/California 18 (and from 1947-64, U.S. 91) at Center Street. Los Angeles Street maintained its north-northwesttrajectory to La Palma Avenue , where it veered northwest along the north side of La Palma Park to Spadra Road (present Harbor Boulevard); this location is 1 - blocks south of the present California 91 freeway. The route continued north on Spadra Rd (Harbor) to the present intersection of Harbor and Brea Blvds. in Fullerton, intersecting SLR-175/former California 14 at the Orangethorpe Avenue intersection. At present-day Brea Boulevard SLR-2/U.S. 101 veered north-northwest on Anaheim-Puente Road (today-s Harbor Boulevard); Spadra Road continued northeast toward Brea and Pomona, carrying unsigned SLR-19 (eventually signed as California 57 from 1968 to 1972, when the California 57 (Orange Freeway) was opened to traffic from Fullerton north to California 60). Anaheim-Puente Road crossed the Fullerton Hills into La Habra, crossing SLR-176 (California 90 after 1964, signed 1968) at the Imperial Highway intersection. The route turned due west at Whittier Road (now Whittier Boulevard) before intersecting SLR-62/CA-39 at Coyote Hills Road (now Beach Boulevard). About a half mile west of California 39 the route entered Los Angeles County and veered WNW; this portion was originally part of the county-wide Washington Boulevard This route extended to the multidirectional intersection of Washington Blvd (ESE and SW), Santa Fe Springs Road (SSW direction, also unsigned SLR-171), Whittier Blvd (NW), and Pinkerton Ave (due north); the intersection was flanked by the elevated Union Pacific Fullerton branch, which crossed Pinkerton Avenue and east Washington Boulevard on truss bridges (although the tracks are long gone, the bridges are still there; a bike path has long been proposed on the defunct rail line -- but it has also been mentioned as a possible path for an eastern extension of the Muni "Red Line" light rail -- so any development has been put on hold for the present).
- Intersection of Whittier Boulevard, Washington Boulevard, Santa Fe Springs Rd., and Pinkerton Avenue , Whittier to the corner of Cahuenga Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood: This is quite a lengthy stretch of this route, but it is one that was, upon designation as a through route, almost immediately slated for bypassing, as it traversed a number of suburban "downtown" commercial areas which, when significant through traffic began to use the route which was originally signed (with the original Auto Club of Southern California [ACSC]-designed and deployed shields) in 1924, realized that this type of traffic, while promising point-of-sale boosts to local businesses, carried with it a high level of costs in addition to benefits in the form of congestion(particularly in regards to the narrow two-lane facilities common then) and increased collision and pedestrian incidents. It was, so to speak, a matter of "be careful what you ask for, as you might actually get it!" to the various cities (Whittier and Montebello among the more vociferous complainers in this instance) along the route -- as they, through their state representatives, had long pushed for the U.S. 101 routing through their communities.
But plans were made almost immediately to move the thoroughfare -- not too far, at least not where they would be of little or no value to the cities through which it passed. Thus plans were well in place by 1929 to relocate U.S. 101 to a parallel route -- but one close enough to provide traveler close access to the city centers. The original route turned north at the multi-way intersection in Whittier on Pinkerton Avenue , extending about one mile to Beverly Boulevard It turned west on Beverly Boulevard, which almost immediately veered northwest on a rather sharp curve (incidentally, the original 1920's-era jointed-concrete pavement, typical of urban state highway construction in that era, is still present on that roadway today, expanded by an amalgalm of more concrete to the outside and occasional stretches of asphalt) which followed the contour of the Puente Hills to the north. Beverly Boulevard and U.S. 101 continued northwest, crossing the San Gabriel river into the north end of Pico Rivera before crossing into Montebello at the Rio Hondo crossing. The land between the river channels was uninhabitable floodplain before the construction of the Whittier Narrows Dam in the mid-1930's; that floodplain was bisected by the north-south Sign Route 19/SLR 168 (aka Rosemead Boulevard).
Immediately after crossing the Rio Hondo the route rose through the bluff on the west side of the river channel into downtown Montebello; it was the main east-west arterial through the central city. The generally west-northwest trajectory of the route continued well into East Los Angeles (unincorporated but developed as an early Latino cultural center even in that time) where it merged with east-west 3rd Street just west of the intersection with Atlantic Boulevard (Sign Route 15/SLR 167). It turned due west on 3rd St. until the Los Angeles city line at Indiana St., at which point the street trajectories became WNW to ESE, matching those in downtown Los Angeles. While 3rd Street turned in this direction, U.S. 101 continued west on 3rd Place to 4th Street, turning WNW onto that arterial. This extended across Boyle Heights and down the bluff fronting the east bank of the Los Angeles River. 4th street, as today, arched southwest then west again to cross the river. After descending to ground level (this bridge also passed over the original Santa Fe passenger station complex, located on the west bank of the Los Angeles River), the roadway split into a couplet; 4th Place, heading northwest with westbound traffic, and 4th Street, heading due west.
The route turned north on the first major arterial, Alameda Street. The routing on Alameda Street was short -- one block for westbound and two for eastbound (because of the 4th St. route split a few blocks to the east); this was a major traffic "headache", as the original Central Station, serving passenger traffic for both the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads, was located on the west side of Alameda Street between 6th and 7th streets. Alameda was a divided street, with a single-track line of the Southern Pacific down the middle; this was the main Southern Pacific passenger "lead track" to the station, used by all Southern Pacific passenger trains (Union Pacific Railroad trains entered from the south); in the 1920s, about 36 Southern Pacific Railroad trains per day used this track, causing severe backups that were exacerbated when through U.S. 101 traffic was routed along Alameda St. north of the station (this downtown problem was not solved until 1939, when the present Union Station in the northeast corner of downtown was opened). U.S. 101 turned west from Alameda St. onto 2nd Street, which traversed downtown before traveling through a tunnel under Bunker Hill.
While in downtown, U.S. 101 intersected U.S. 60 at Main Street and U.S. 66 at Broadway, two blocks west. Broadway also served as northward Sign Route 11/SLR 165; this route turned west to go through the tunnel with U.S. 101, turning south on Figueroa St. at the other side of the tunnel. U.S. 101 continued west along 2nd Street, which crossed over Glendale Boulevard and the Pacific Electric Glendale interurban line on a wooden bridge (replaced with the present concrete structure in 1930); at that point 2nd Street became another iteration of Beverly Boulevard The route continued on that arterial until Virgil Avenue in the Silverlake neighborhood between downtown and Hollywood. Beverly Boulevard merged with Silver Lake Boulevard and turned due west at this multi-point intersection, while U.S. 101 turned due north on Virgil Avenue It continued on Virgil until Santa Monica Boulevard in East Hollywood, which was also Sign Route 2 and SLR 162. That route extended east toward Eagle Rock and Glendale; U.S. 101 turned west to multiplex with that route to Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood. It then turned north on Cahuenga Boulevard to Sunset Boulevard, where the 1934 rerouting rejoined the original alignment.
- Cahuenga Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard to Calabasas: Until the advent of the Hollywood and Ventura Freeways, U.S. 101 utilized this routing without change from its inception in 1924 to the 1952-1959 deployment of the freeways. It followed Cahuenga Boulevard north from central Hollywood, turning west to intersect Highland Avenue (unsigned SLR 160) at the Hollywood Bowl. It then veered north and northwest through the Cahuenga Pass. At the north end of the pass itself, Cahuenga Boulevard turned north on what is now Lankershim Boulevard (regardless of name, this was always unsigned SLR 159). U.S. 101, as always SLR 2, continued on the original WNW trajectory established by Cahuenga; this was now Ventura Boulevard This arterial route, from the earliest records always a minimum of four lanes (the original 1924 pavement can still be seen in the Studio City area near Laurel Canyon Boulevard), continued more or less WNW across the San Fernando Valley and skirting the north flank of the Santa Monica Mountains. After traveling through Studio City it entered Sherman Oaks, intersecting Sign Route 134/SLR 161 at Tyrone Ave; this route, after traveling northeast a block on Tyrone, turned east on Moorpark St. toward Burbank and Glendale.
At the other side of Sherman Oaks it intersected Sepulveda Boulevard, which was Sign Route 7 and SLR 158. U.S. 101/Ventura Boulevard entered the community of Encino after that intersection; the facility narrowed to two lanes near where Balboa Boulevard intersects the route. The region west from there, Tarzana (not named until the late 1930' and, whimsically, drawing its name directly from the "Tarzan" movie serials, most of which were filmed on the Warner Bros. facilities north of U.S. 101, now the site of Pierce Community College) and Woodland Hills, were sparsely settled areas at that time, primarily occupied by large ranches and isolated "estates". In Woodland Hills the route intersected Sign Route 27/SLR 156 (Topanga Canyon Boulevard); north of there, the route was largely a gravel road until the 1930' when both Grumman and Lockheed opened aeronautic factories in Canoga Park. U.S. 101 continued west as Ventura Boulevard until it entered the community of Calabasas (then, as now, an iconoclastic "arts colony"), where it became Calabasas Road. This designation continued until the highway ascended the ridge that separated the San Fernando Valley from the Thousand Oaks area; from there, the original route has been overlaid with the present U.S. 101 freeway (and an expressway before that) to the Ventura County line with the exception of a mile or two at the east end of Westlake Village (near Kaman-Dume Road), which is a scant block or so south of the present freeway and is in effect a frontage road (albeit with a row of businesses between it and the freeway). At this point the U.S. 101 route through the Los Angeles metro area concludes; it continued, as today, toward a meeting with the coastline at Ventura.
Pre-War Changes to U.S. 101 routing (1928-1940)
There were a number of alterations to the route that U.S. 101 utilized to traverse the Los Angeles metro area during the years of the Depression and those immediately preceding World War II. Most of these, as has been previously stated, stemmed from the desire of the several cities along the route to remove traffic from the principal city centers to routes that still promised access to those city centers but diverted the main through traffic to alternate arterials. But besides this route-change rationale, other factors played a major role; the expansion of urban/suburban function into previously open rural areas, which commenced at a rapid pace during this period, was another reason for route changes, particularly in south-central Orange County. Finally, the shift of short-to-medium distance commercial traffic from rail to road, which began occurring during this same period, meant that more -- and heavier -- trucks began occupying the roadway space; they invariably utilized state routes whenever possible because of the consistency of roadway conditions and predictable intercommunity connection.
Of course, this phenomenon itself exacerbated the first issue -- that of rapidly increasing traffic through city centers. The cities immediately southeast of Los Angeles -- Montebello and Whittier in particular -- were the first to raise a clamor to the state Division of Highways (merged into what became Caltrans in 1973). Orange County cities were less adamant about the situation; this was likely because of considerably smaller levels of through traffic at the time (San Diego was at the time a relatively small city, with a population of slightly under 60,000, centered around Navy installations and agricultural interests -- and a lesser factor as a destination than today). The exception to this was the city of Orange, which expressed an early interest in its desire to move through traffic to facilities with less impact on localized commercial activities. That desire "dovetailed" well with a continuing Division of Highways project -- extending Sign Route 10 (SLR 174) southeast through the towns of Downey and Norwalk, closely following the Santa Ana branch of the Southern Pacific railroad.
Constructed as a four-lane arterial from it inception, it had reached Artesia Avenue , at the Los Angeles-Orange county line near Buena Park, by 1930 and had extended through Buena Park to Orangethorpe Avenue by 1932. Artesia Avenue was Sign Route 14 and SLR 175; its original route took it east to Grand Avenue (now Beach Boulevard), Sign Route 39 and SLR 171; jogging south on that street to Orangethorpe, where both routes turned west. Route 39/SLR 171 turned south a block east at Stanton Avenue ; today a broad S-curve between La Palma Avenue and Lincoln Avenue through Knott-s Berry Farm property eliminates the "jog" on Orangethorpe. Route 14/SLR 175 continued east on Orangethorpe to Fullerton. The diagonal Manchester Avenue, part of Sign Route 10/SLR 174, also carried the Route 14/SLR 175 alignment; much of this route, immediately northeast of and paralleling the Interstate 5/Santa Ana freeway, is intact today. The Dividion of Highways announced that this route-s trajectory was intended to continue southeast through Anaheim and southwest Orange, to terminate at North Main Street where the S.P. branch crossed near the Santa Ana/Orange city line. Santa Ana itself was quite densely developed even then; continuing the diagonal trajectory would not be considered until the advent of the Santa Ana Freeway concept in the early 1950s.
The Division of Highways, with the assent of Orange and Anaheim, decided to reroute U.S. 101 over the southern portion of this Manchester Avenue extension, eliminating the right-angle "jog" along Chapman Avenue between Los Angeles Street and North Main Street. The plan was to continue Sign Route 10 southeast to the junction of Los Angeles Street and the Manchester extension (also a multi-point intersection with Katella Avenue ) , where that designation would terminate; the remainder southeast into Santa Ana would assume the U.S. 101/SLR 2 designation, with the western section of the Chapman "jog" (west of the Manchester extension) being decommissioned. The remaining portion of Chapman east of the Manchester extension (and today-s site of the U.S. Irvine medical center/school) would be redesignated as SLR 182, which was originally Chapman Avenue east of North Main Street east into Santiago Canyon. North Main Street would be designated as a second section of SLR 184, which was South Main Street in Santa Ana, extending to Corona del Mar. The Manchester Avenue extension reached Lincoln Avenue (Sign Route 18/SLR 178) in Anaheim by 1934, Chapman Avenue by 1936, and North Main Street by 1938, at which time all the street redesignations were in place. Thus, by the end of 1938, U.S. 101 veered northwest from North Main Street along the newly-opened Manchester Avenue, crossed the Chapman Avenue portion of the original route, and rejoined the original alignment along Los Angeles Street in south Anaheim at the Katella Avenue intersection; U.S. 101 then turned north along Los Angeles Street on its historical alignment. This replaced section (3) of the 1924 routing.
The sections of U.S. 101 through Santa Ana and Tustin remained unchanged until the coming of the Santa Ana Freeway in the mid-to-late 1950's. However, scattered housing deployment coupled with the construction of the El Toro Naval Air Station circa 1935 resulted in a route alignment change, again with the result of the elimination of the "jog" along Sand Canyon Road in the area which is now the eastern portion of Irvine. From south to north, a new alignment was built, more or less approximating today-s Interstate 5 alignment, which veered north from the diagonal southeast to northwest alignment south of Sand Canyon between today-s Bake Parkway and the Route 133 (Laguna Canyon) freeway; it crossed the Santa Fe rail line on an overhead bridge, crossing the original Sand Canyon Road alignment just north of the tracks and continuing north-northwestalong today-s Interstate 5 alignment, rejoining the original Trabuco Road routing at the SW-NE Culver Road intersection. This was originally constructed, as were many major state routes of the time, as a 3-lane facility, with a bidirectional passing ("suicide") lane; by 1959, when the freeway was overlaid, this had been expanded via shoulder widening to 4 lanes. This alignment change commenced construction in early 1935 and was completed, with the opening of the railroad overhead, before Christmas 1937. This was the last realignment of U.S. 101 in Orange County until the southward "creep" of the Santa Ana Freeway reached the Norwalk area in early 1957, at which time the U.S. 101 mainline was removed from the Whittier area and rerouted over the new freeway.
The section of the 1924 alignment between Whittier and downtown Los Angeles to the Hollywood area, was realigned in sections beginning in 1931 and continuing through 1939, when the project was fully completed. The selection of the route was not without controversy, however; although every jurisdiction along the route wanted U.S. 101 through traffic to utilize an alternate route to the original alignment, there was hardly unanimity regarding the precise route that would take. The Division of Highways preferred a more southerly alignment, using Washington Boulevard, which bisected the railyards east of downtown, reasoning that it would provide the most efficient truck route to the industrial areas, located then as today southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Their original notion was to continue U.S. 101 west on Washington to Figueroa St., then turning north to bypass the city core before turning west. But the city of Montebello objected, claiming that the Washington Boulevard route diverted traffic that promised commercial viability away from their city -- they wanted the highway off Beverly Boulevard -- but not too far away.
The selection of a final route was simplified by the 1930-1931 Hoover administration recovery plan, which included federal funds for construction of urban arterials (although that administration officially deplored "welfare" plans, public-works projects -- not surprising considering Hoover was an engineer by profession -- were considered an appropriate method of addressing Depression issues). The Division of Highways, in concert with the various cities, looked at various alternatives.
A number of projects were rendered feasible by this fund availability; the city of Los Angeles had long been planning an extension of 6th Street eastward into Boyle Heights over a 1 1/4-mile-long Art Deco-design bridge. The disconnected 6th Street, which extended east through Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, and southern Montebello and ending atop the Rio Hondo bluffs, was, in expanded form, to comprise most of the route realignment; it was a scant one mile south of the original Beverly Boulevard alignment, so it was acceptable to the city government of Montebello as well as the Los Angeles county supervisors, who governed the unincorporated East Los Angeles area. Whittier Boulevard, which extended northwest from the multi-point Washington/Pinkerton/Santa Fe Springs intersection in Whittier but was a narrow local street next to a Pacific Electric interurban branch, was selected as the connector (the Depression had rendered many of the P.E. lines surplus, so they were only too glad to cede their easement to the state). A connection, which included bridges over the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo rivers as well as an underpass of the U.P. main line near Rosemead Boulevard, was planned to connect Whittier Boulevard and East 6th Street.
At the suggestion of the city of Whittier, the Whittier Boulevard designation would be applied to the rerouting east of Boyle Avenue in Boyle Heights (it would not replace Washington Boulevard in east Whittier and La Habra until 1940). While the original East 6th Street was a standard 2-lane neighborhood arterial, the new U.S. 101 Whittier Boulevard route would be 4 lanes, with islands and channelization at major crossing highways (Sign Route 15/Atlantic Avenue and Sign Route 19/Rosemead Boulevard; the latter also received federal "make-work" funds which were used to expand the route-s capacity). However, much of the route in the western portion of the city of Whittier was hemmed in by housing or commercial buildings, so the street, while expanded to four lanes, was -- and remains so today as part of California 72 -- a relatively narrow route without channelization or other amenities.
The planned relocation of U.S. 101 to the 6th Street/Whittier Boulevard alignment was well-received by local entities; the Whittier and Montebello city governments approved the change, signing the necessary agreements for the new routing within their jurisdictions. But one problem remained -- while the city of Los Angeles -- or at least city "boosters" such as the Chamber of Commerce and the city P.R. department -- wanted the substantial new 6th Street bridge over the Los Angeles River to be a "grand entrance" to downtown -- the problem was what to do with the route once it touched down. The bridge had to be long enough to clear the Santa Fe passenger railyard on the west bank, which means it did not reach ground level until Mateo Street, two blocks east of Alameda Avenue And the location of the Central railroad station at the corner of 6th and Alameda was problematic, even though all three major railroads serving Los Angeles had, by 1932, agreed to pool their resources and revise their track plans with an eye toward the establishment of a "union" depot serving all of them (Santa Fe-s riverside station was woefully inadequate for that line-s rather grandiose plans for a fully streamlined fleet of passenger trains, so they were at the forefront of the Union Station concept).
Nevertheless, even with the most expedited rail relocation plans, it was calculated that Alameda Street would continue to host substantial rail traffic for most of the next decade; thus placing the through route at or near the station was considered to be a bad idea -- the problems experienced with the short Alameda Avenue section of U.S. 101 between 4th and 2nd streets were serious enough for the Division of Highways as well as their counterparts in city planning to dismiss the notion of using -- or even crossing at grade -- that street for through-traffic purposes. There were thoughts of extending the 6th Street bridge several blocks west past Alameda Street and the railroad station, but that would have brought traffic back to ground near San Pedro Street, too close to downtown to effectively work as a usable bypass. Since the federal rules regarding disbursement of funds didn-t specify that projects receiving assistance be state thoroughfares, the 6th street bridge project was a "lock" regardless of whether it carried U.S. 101 or not.
But something occurred in the interim -- a change of federal administrations with the election of Franklin Roosevelt. The "lifers" in the Department of Commerce, which at the time controlled the funding of these projects, convinced the incoming administration that the Hoover plan for enhanced public works expenditures as amelioration for Depression problems was working well to that point. They made their case well enough to ensure that funding for such projects would not only continue -- but be significantly expanded. With more funds available and principally dispersed to major cities, the Division of Highways and the city of Los Angeles decided to take U.S. 101 off Beverly Boulevard and onto a completely new alignment further into the Echo Park hills. The concept was to utilize as many existing streets as possible, connecting them through cuts in the hills or diagonal connectors to create a new street. As the state was officially picking up the tab -- and passing it on to the Department of Commerce -- the scope of the project expanded; the street, which would connect the north side of downtown with East Hollywood, was "modeled" as a 4-lane facility with what was then a novel concept -- a continuous left-turn lane between traffic directions, resulting in a 5-lane-wide (plus parking) facility -- unheard of in an urban setting.
It was decided to keep the facility well north of downtown -- at least north of the civic center. Temple Street was briefly considered as the anchor of the plan, but was dropped because of merchant opposition in the Rampart area west of downtown. Eventually, Macy Street was selected as the downtown arterial best suited for the purpose; it formed the dividing line between the Civic Center and Chinatown, so it was seen as "skirting" established areas rather than bisecting them, so objections were minimized. It was also situated at the north end of Olvera Street, the historical Spanish/Mexican city core, which at the time was beginning to be regarded as a tourist destination; routing through traffic in proximity to that area was considered a positive method of assuring a consistent tourist flow. Also, Macy Street had both a bridge over the Los Angeles River as well as the Pacific Electric San Bernardino interurban line at the bottom of the Boyle Heights bluff where the Marengo Creek valley, which provided that rail line-s access to the San Gabriel Valley, emptied into the Los Angeles River channel. Thus there was a way for a rerouted U.S. 101 to reach a north-of-downtown bypass; the details of the shift would be addressed after the downtown-to-Hollywood project was well under way.
Macy Street changed names at Beaudry Street, a block west of Figueroa Street; it became Bellevue Avenue, which wound around the south flank of the Elysian Hills. It was decided to launch the new arterial from the corner of Beaudry and Bellevue, striking out almost due north from there through a cut in the ridge to Reservoir Street in Echo Park, which it turned onto and subsumed for about 3/4 mile through the Echo Park flatlands , where a new alignment arched south around and through the foot of the next ridge to Rampart Blvd at the point where that street turned northwest, becoming Griffith Park Boulevard The new route followed that street through the hills west of Silver Lake until the alluvial slope leading down to the East Hollywood flatlands, at which point it veered west away from Griffith Park Boulevard, made an S-curve and emerged onto the plain at Hyperion Avenue. It then took off at a 45-degree direct northwest angle to the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Virgil Avenue , the trajectory continued to Hollywood Boulevard immediately west of Vermont Avenue This route, when completed in late 1934, became the extended Sunset Boulevard; the short stub of the existing east-west Sunset Boulevard in East Hollywood became Sunset Drive to its terminus in the Silverlake hills. The angled route north of Sunset Boulevard became the east portion of Hollywood Boulevard; that route-s eastern stub into the hills was renamed Prospect Avenue. The original concept was to take U.S. 101 up the new Sunset Boulevard to Hollywood Boulevard, and then west to the original Cahuenga Boulevard north-south alignment; Hollywood Boulevard merchants, through their City Council representation, made it clear that they objected to through traffic traveling down their "main drag". Their pleas were loud and accompanied by not a small amount of political clout, so U.S. 101 took Sunset Boulevard west to Cahuenga, turning north there.
With that portion of the Los Angeles reroute finalized, the last step was to formulate a connection between Whittier Boulevard and Macy Street. The original plan was to commission Brooklyn Avenue , the extension of Macy Street into Boyle Heights, as a state highway east from the Macy Street bridge over the Marengo Channel to Soto Street, which was already unsigned SLR 4 south to the original 4th Street alignment of U.S. 101/SLR 2. The concept was simple: U.S. 101 would use Whittier Boulevard west to Soto, turn north on Soto to Brooklyn Avenue , then west on that street until it crossed over the bridge and became Macy Street. When that plan was put forth to the city of Los Angeles, activists in Boyle Heights objected because Brooklyn Avenue was in effect their main east-west retail corridor, and, like with the Hollywood merchants, did not want an influx of through traffic adding to the local mix. Another option was needed, but was hard to come by, as the only two remaining options, State Street and Boyle Avenue, both of which intersected Brooklyn Avenue well west of the main retail zone, were not deemed capable of handling the U.S. 101 traffic, as north of 1st Street all were a mere two lanes wide and not readily expandable without incurring public outcry (then, as now, eminent domain was enforceable but consistently problematic). At that time it was decided to make the best of a bad lot.
Boyle Avenue, the westernmost north-south arterial atop the Boyle Heights bluffs, was selected, as the portion from Whittier Boulevard to 4th street bounded Hollenbeck Park and could be widened using park easement. North of there, the Division of Highways selected a short connecting street, Pleasant Avenue, which struck out northwest from the intersection of First and Boyle and skirted the top of the bluffs, intersecting Brooklyn Avenue at the east end of the Marengo bridge. This street was in effect the hypotenuse of the right angle formed by Boyle and Brooklyn avenues, creating a savings of about a half mile overall. And while it was, too, only two lanes wide, the angled intersection with Boyle Avenue and its junction with Macy Street (the name officially changed at the Pleasant Avenue intersection) could be channelized to afford easy transition from the arterials to the Pleasant Avenue "cutoff". The channelization was implemented and the route opened to through traffic in mid-1936. Ironically, about six months later a temporary U.S. 101 detour over Vignes Street to Main St. (then U.S. 60) became necessary, as Macy Street east of Alameda Avenue was closed to traffic pending the construction of the tunnel under the Union Station tracks; Macy Street re-opened just prior to Christmas 1938, some five months before the new Union Station, on the southeast corner of Alameda and Macy, opened for business. Although Sunset Boulevard had previously changed to Macy Street at Figueroa Street, it was extended over Macy to Main Street, then veering southeast away from U.S. 101 to the front door of Union Station. The remainder of Macy Street east from there under the tunnel, now U.S. 101, retained its original name.
It should be noted that by the late 1930s nascent plans for an extensive parkway system, intended to eventually remove most through U.S. highway traffic from city streets, were being formulated. Near the Los Angeles city center, the plans included five branches extending from a central collection point near downtown -- these were originally projected by locally-based Los Angeles-area planning entities (specifically the city and county agencies) as diagonal routes -- northeast to Pasadena (the most prominent "satellite" city of the time), northwest through Cahuenga Pass into North Hollywood, southeast through the industrial area toward the then-developing suburbs of Downey and Norwalk, and southwest to the L.A. Airport area; the fifth was the eastward Ramona Parkway, originally intended to terminate in El Monte. All were, after World War II, upgraded to freeway status and constructed with the exception of the southwest branch, which was shifted south of downtown to a north-south alignment (today-s Harbor/Interstate 110 freeway) at the request of both the state Division of Highways and interests in the San Pedro port area, who posited the notion that providing enhanced access to the port area would be a better investment than a route to the airport (although the relative isolation of Los Angeles from the rest of the nation circa 1938 resulted in a higher-than average per capita usage of the airport at that time; even with the advent of faster and more comfortable overland rail travel, it still took nearly four days to get to Chicago -- and the concept of expending but a single day for actual travel was beginning to be seen as an attractive proposition).
The fact that these parkways were in an advanced state of planning meant, to both city planners and the state Division of Highways, that a decidedly substandard alignment for some highway facilities, including the U.S. 101 routing along Pleasant Avenue (as well as a number of other in-town routings; please see the upcoming U.S. 99 and U.S. 66 entries), was an acceptable temporary solution that accomplished at least the initial rationale for realignment -- separating through traffic from downtown commerce. It was assumed that these alignments would be in service less than ten years; this would have been the case, if not for the delay of the parkway/freeway plans due to wartime reprioritizations.
The completion of the Sunset Boulevard extension and the rerouting of U.S. 101 over the Whittier-Boyle-Pleasant-Macy alignment was fully in place by early 1937. This configuration remained static until 1946, when the first section of parkway along U.S. 101 through the Cahuenga Pass was opened to traffic; this section should not be considered a major realignment, though, because it paralleled the original Cahuenga Boulevard routing, never straying more than a few hundred feet from that facility. The routing of U.S. 101 along this final street alignment lasted for seventeen years -- the longest lifespan of any street-based schema; it was not until the advent of the Santa Ana and Hollywood freeways -- and until those freeways were developed to the point where they could effectively serve through traffic -- that U.S. 101 left city streets -- at least within the city of Los Angeles south of the Santa Monica mountains.
Postwar Iterations of U.S. 101/Transition to Freeway Alignment
The transition of U.S. 101 from street to freeway began in earnest in 1946. Although structures had not yet been built nor pavement laid, the right-of way for the Santa Ana Parkway -- renamed as a freeway in 1949 -- had been acquired by early 1941; clearance of the alignment progressed through the wartime years and was completed by 1945. As the Ramona Parkway section through the Marengo Creek gulch was completed in early 1941 -- and that included the interchange with the Santa Ana parkway, which tracked the bottom of the Boyle Heights escarpment east of the Los Angeles River -- the interchange (with the ramps to the Santa Ana parkway alignment blocked off) that connected the parkways with Aliso Street into downtown had been in service since 1941; the early completion of that facility was accomplished in concert with the relocation of the Pacific Electric interurban rail line to the north side of the Marengo gully, leaving ample room for the parkway south of the tracks. Construction on the Santa Ana freeway (to today-s basic standards; although the "parkway" designation persisted until 1949, it was built as a full limited-access facility, albeit with a minimal median in order to avoid property-taking as much as feasible. The first section, from the Ramona Parkway/Aliso Street interchange (today-s "San Bernardino Split") was completed in early 1947 and was extended east to Ditman Street (near the eastern Los Angeles city limits) by the end of 1948. But the lack of an efficient connection to existing U.S. 101/Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles kept the signed U.S. 101 route away from the freeway alignment until 1950.
In early 1947 another routing development was taking place. Wartime traffic had taken its toll in terms of congestion and physical wear and tear on much of U.S. 101 along Whittier Boulevard and the north-south section through Fullerton and La Habra. The Division of Highways, with AASHO-s consent, decided to designate a series of routes from central Orange County to East Los Angeles as Bypass U.S. 101. This route, fully signed by the end of that year, utilized the relatively new Manchester Avenue facility, signed as California 10 and legislatively designated Route 174), from the east end of that designated route at the corner of Manchester and Los Angeles Street in south Anaheim northwest through Buena Park and Norwalk to the corner of Lakewood Blvd (California Sign Route 19/Legislative Route 168). It turned north along Lakewood Boulevard to Telegraph Road in Downey (Sign Route 26/Legislative Route 166), where it turned west. It followed Telegraph Road to Olympic Boulevard in East Los Angeles (in an area now part of the City of Commerce), where it angled west onto Olympic along with Route 26. Bypass U.S. 101 and Sign Route 26 coincided to Indiana Street (which marked the east Los Angeles city line), turning north for about six blocks to Whittier Boulevard, where it terminated at existing U.S. 101.
This last short north-south section was intially the only portion of Bypass 101 which was not multiplexed with an existing state sign route. That changed by mid-1949, when Route 10 was truncated at the corner of Firestone Boulevard (the continuation of Manchester Avenue in Norwalk and Downey), leaving Bypass U.S. 101 the sole designation from Anaheim to Sign Route 19. As the eastern section was in effect a "useless multiplex", unlike Routes 19 and 26, which extended in both directions from their Bypass 101-multiplexed portions, the truncation was an exercise in route simplification.
Originally it was intended that the southeast extensions of the Santa Ana Freeway would be signed as Bypass U.S. 101, since much of that freeway lay either directly adjacent or closely paralleling the Telegraph Road facility; it was planned that once the freeway sections were opened to traffic the Bypass U.S. 101 designation would be shifted to the freeway and the paralelling street sections decommissioned.
As both the Santa Ana Freeway and the Ramona Parkway emptied out onto Aliso Street (the Pacific Electric tracks had been relocated and the street itself, including the bridge over the Los Angeles River, as part of the Union Station project, completed in early 1939), the Division of Highways began converting that facility to a full freeway in 1948, coincident with the construction of the "Downtown Slot" section of the Hollywood/Santa Ana freeway (originally the name changed at the Main Street overpass but was shifted to the 4-Level Interchange in 1964). The "slot" was completed west to Grand Avenue in mid-1951; the 4-Level Interchange connecting to the Harbor (US 6/California 11) and Pasadena (US 66/6/California 11) freeways was completed in 1953. The reconfiguration of the Cahuenga Pass parkway section, which originally flanked the Pacific Electric interurban tracks, removed in 1950, into a full eight-lane freeway, was completed in late 1952, with the remainder of the Hollywood Freeway following suit by early 1953.
At the behest of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. 101 designation was moved onto the freeway at that time; a temporary connection using North Union Street from the freeway north to Sunset Boulevard was in place during most of 1953 until the 4-Level interchange was completed later that year. Once that project was done, U.S. 101 was rerouted over the Hollywood and Santa Ana freeways to the 1953 southeastern terminus at Indiana Ave; the crossing of that street was almost exactly at the halfway point between Olympic and Whittier Boulevards. So by the end of 1953 southbound U.S. 101 traffic would enter the Hollywood Freeway northwest of the Lankershim Boulevard interchange in Studio City and remain on the Hollywood and Santa Ana freeways to Indiana Avenue at the east city limits of Los Angeles.
That interchange was, temporarily, the division point between U.S. 101 and Bypass U.S. 101. Southbound U.S. 101 traffic turned north on Indiana for three blocks to Whitter, then turned east to resume its longstanding alignment. Bypass U.S. 101 traffic turned south on Indiana, subsequently following its 1947 routing to Anaheim via Olympic, Telegraph, Lakewood, and Manchester surface streets. The next section of freeway opened in early 1955; this extended the freeway to Atlantic Boulevard (Sign Route 15/Legislative Route 167). At that point Bypass U.S. 101 was removed from Indiana Avenue , Olympic Boulevard, and Telegraph Road west of Atlantic. Sign Route 26 retained its entire street designation, however; it never followed the Santa Ana Freeway but remained on the adjacent Olympic and Telegraph routing. The next section of freeway to open, in late 1956, extended to Lakewood Boulevard When Bypass U.S. 101 was routed over this new section, Sign Route 26, which took a convoluted and indirect route to Sign Route 39 in northern Buena Park, was decommissioned east of the Olympic Boulevard interchange with the Santa Ana Freeway/Bypass U.S. 101. The next section of the Santa Ana Freeway to be opened to traffic, in summer 1957, took Bypass U.S. 101 to Pioneer Boulevard in Norwalk; Bypass 101 was temporarily routed south on Pioneer for about a mile to Firestone (Manchester) Blvd, where it then resumed its original route southeast toward Orange County. At that time, the Sign Route 10 designation was reapplied to the section of Firestone Boulevard from Pioneer Boulevard west to Lakewood Boulevard
The section of the Santa Ana Freeway from Pioneer Boulevard to Rosecrans Avenue in Norwalk was one of the more difficult to develop because it required a broad S-curve squeezing the route between downtown Norwalk along Firestone Boulevard and the Los Angeles County administrative facility at the corner of Norwalk Boulevard (Sign Route 35/Legislative Route 170) and Imperial Highway (constructed on the grounds of a closed mental health facility) and the relocation of several historic dwellings. It opened to traffic on Easter weekend in 1958; in conjunction with this, Sign Route 10 was extended even further to a dedicated Firestone Boulevard interchange immediately northwest of the Rosecrans Avenue exit complex. Unusual for an interchange constructed as late as 1958, this was a directional wye with a left exit northbound from the Santa Ana Freeway and an entrance southbound; no access to Route 10 was provided from thenorth. But this was preceded, in the fall of 1957, with the redesignation of Bypass U.S. 101 as the main line of U.S. 101; while the cities of Montebello, Whittier, and La Habra had long resisted removing the principal U.S. 101 designation from their jurisdictions, the rapid growth of the region in the postwar years rendered the presence of through traffic through or near their central commercial areas increasingly problematic. As these cities arrived at the conclusion that their central areas would best function with primarily local traffic -- and that through traffic would likely divert itself to the new freeway regardless of the designation of their local streets -- the fiscal contribution of through traffic became a matter of diminishing returns in relation to locally-generated revenue. Thus the main rationale for maintaining a major regional arterial through their cities was rendered moot. So Whittier Boulevard and the other portions of U.S. 101 remained unsigned until California 72 was signed in the field in early 1969.
The Santa Ana Freeway was designated a part of the nascent Interstate 5 in late 1957, although signage as such did not occur until late 1961. But the presence of Interstate pool funds made the southeasterly progress of that freeway a series of uninterrupted extensions through the southeast reaches of Los Angeles County and Orange County. From the corner of Firestone Boulevard (which did not resume the Manchester name until the Orange County line -- and which was renumbered as Sign Route 42 in mid-1962, when Interstate 10 signage was extended from the San Bernardino onto the Golden State/I-5 and the Santa Monica freeways, which placed it in such proximity to the existing Sign Route 10 that the Division of Highways elected to change the state route designation to avoid possible confusion) and Rosecrans Avenue southwest to Artesia Boulevard (Sign Route 14/Legislative Route 175) the Santa Ana Freeway directly overlaid the existing divided highway; the Firestone Boulevard designation was subsequently applied to the frontage roads. This portion was opened to traffic by early 1959. Another section, also opened in early 1959, also essentially overlaid the existing Manchester Boulevard from North Main Street in Santa Ana to Orangethorpe Avenue in Buena Park. That year also saw the construction of a long section in south Orange County, from just north of San Juan Capistrano north to Red Hill Avenue in Tustin; this was originally constructed as a 4-lane freeway with relatively wide medians (meeting 1956 Interstate standards, modified in ensuing years).
The Santa Ana Freeway progressed southeast toward Orange County in rapid succession; the portion from Rosecrans Avenue in Norwalk to Artesia Avenue , at the city line separating La Mirada (Los Angeles County) from Buena Park in Orange County, by early 1960; the depressed section through Buena Park, extending to Orangethorpe Avenue (the eastward surface-street routing of Sign Route 14) by the end of that year. The section southeast from there through Anaheim to Main Street in Santa Ana had already been opened to traffic in late 1959, with the section curving through Santa Ana north of downtown (which required considerable eminent-domain taking of older housing stock and which had provoked considerable local controversy) opening in the summer of 1960; this included a full-cloverleaf interchange with Sign Route 55/Tustin Avenue in Tustin; as preliminary work was underway on the Sign Route 55 (Newport) Freeway north of that interchange, the Route 55 alignment at the underpass was constructed as a four-lane divided roadway with collector distributor ramps on both facilities (this format would survive until the Interstate 5 reconstruction in the early 1990's). With the completion of these extensions, U.S. 101 was rerouted onto the nascent Interstate 5 alignment from East Los Angeles to Capistrano Beach by the beginning of 1961. The final section to carry both the Interstate 5 and U.S. 101 designation was the San Clemente bypass, constructed on the hillsides above El Camino Real (the original U.S. 101 alignment) and opened to traffic in the summer of 1961. Upon the opening of this section, the remainder of the freeway northward was expanded out to six lanes by early 1963. Of course, the U.S. 101 designation south of the East Los Angeles interchange was officially deleted in 1964 -- but U.S. 101 signage did not disappear overnight, particularly in the southern reaches of Orange County. The Division of Highways elected to maintain the presence of U.S. 101 as a through route until the Interstate 5 freeway in northern San Diego County was completed in the late 1960's; the "approach" signage of U.S. 101 in Orange County was gone by the spring of 1969.
North of downtown, the original terminus of the U.S. 101 Hollywood Freeway that routed through traffic onto westbound Ventura Boulevardbetween Lankershim Boulevard and Vineland Avenue in Studio City was bypassed in late 1957 with the original Hollywood/Ventura Freeway extensions which diverged from the original alignment just northwest of the Lankershim Boulevard undercrossing, heading north-northwest to near the corner of Riverside Avenue and Tujunga Avenue , adjacent to the present Hollywood/Ventura (U.S. 101 with California 134 and California 170) freeway interchange; the first section to be completed included that interchange plus the Ventura Freeway west to Laurel Canyon Boulevard The original section segueing onto Ventura Boulevard was replaced with a pair of dedicated ramps; those carried the U.S. 101 designation onto the existing facility for the time being.
The next section of the Ventura Freeway to open extended west from the Interstate 405 (San Diego Freeway) near the intersection of Ventura and Sepulveda boulevards (the latter being, at the time, Sign Route 7/Legislative Route 158). This initial section, the first in the western half of the San Fernando Valley, extended to Balboa Boulevard; it opened to traffic in the winter of 1958. It was followed in short order by a third section, which extended from Canoga Avenue west to Shoup Avenue in Woodland Hills; this section included an interchange with Topanga Canyon Boulevard (Sign Route 27/Legislative Route 156). Thus by mid-1958 the Ventura Freeway section of U.S. 101 consisted of three discrete sections; the only one to feature U.S. 101 signage was the westernmost through Woodland Hills, as it terminated -- at both ends -- adjacent to the extant Ventura Boulevard alignment. Signage of the other two sections would have involved a convoluted set of connecting routes, most of which were perpendicular to the basic U.S. 101 trajectory and, in the case of both Laurel Canyon and Balboa boulevards, involved approximately a mile of separation between the original and new facilities. Since neither section was particularly lengthy, the Division of Highways elected to maintain Ventura Boulevard as the principal U.S. 101 alignment until all three sections were connected. This occurred in the summer of 1959; in a coordinated effort unusual in the Division/Caltrans annals, both sections were opened to traffic simultaneously, effecting a continuous U.S. 101 freeway route from south Orange County to Calabasas at the west end of the San Fernando Valley. The Ventura Freeway west from there to the Los Angeles/Ventura county line was opened in sections from 1961 to 1966; for the most part, it overlaid the existing route except for bypasses of Calabasas and the east end of Westlake Village from Kaman-Dume Road to Lindero Canyon Road, near the county line. At that time, no designated sections of U.S. 101, pre- or post-truncation, remained as either surface street or at-grade expressway.
Of course, the alignment of U.S. 101 from the East Los Angeles interchange (I-5/10/CA-60) north (although the majority of the trajectory is east-west) to the Ventura County line has remained consistent since 1964, particularly since the decommissioning of the original Interstate 105 section from Interstate 5 to the San Bernardino (eastbound Interstate 10 spur, originally Interstate 110) freeway interchange; although the signage of that section always remained U.S. 101; no Interstate 105 signage was ever erected along that section.
Incidentally, the original vintage U.S. 101 shields (the last of the configurations with the horizontal black stripe separating "California" from "U.S. 101") remained on Ventura Boulevard, augmented after 1959 with "Business" banners, until approximately 1967, when they were unceremoniously removed by the City of Los Angeles, who wished to discourage the use of Ventura Boulevard as an alternate route to the freeway. The eight-year presence of this business route was the only iteration of a U.S. 101 business loop in the Los Angeles metropolitan area (but it appeared on metropolitan area maps well into the 1980s).<
Page Updated February 7, 2007.