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Colorful 1950s Los Angeles Freeway and Street Scenes

Today we have a pair of videos showing very enjoyable and colorful views of the streets and freeways of Los Angeles along with a third related film “Ride the Last of the Big Red Cars.”

The first part of the production above takes you for ride on some of the LA area freeways. Next, it takes vibrant and nostalgic trip on the streets of the area that also include views of Ford and Chevrolet assembly plants and ends up back out on a freeway.

The second circa-1957 video shows slow moving rush hour traffic on a freeway unknown to us. The majority of what you will see are period domestic automobiles, but in the mix are imported sports cars and sedans and even a Model “A” or 1932 Ford sedan. Tell us what freeway this was filmed on.

The third video below is well worth watching because it shows some of the last days Red Car Line also known as the Pacific Electric railroad system was in operation. The rail line was initially put in place to serve and transport residents to Henry Huntington’s extensive real estate developments. He also assembled a hydro-electric operation to power it. The transport system is included here because of the numerous scenes that include cars and trucks on the routes that ran on surface streets.

Tell us what you find that interests you in these videos.

11 responses to “Colorful 1950s Los Angeles Freeway and Street Scenes

  1. Video 2. At the very beginning of the film, a motorcycle is splitting the traffic. Politely, of course, not reckless like they do today. It happens at the end, too.

  2. The freeway film was shot on the 110 Freeway. The four lanes of cars with the tunnels to the left is just north of the 101 and south of I-5. This happens to be right by Dodger Stadium. It doesn’t look much different today other than the types of cars.

  3. That Ford station wagon sure sticks out. What is that large black car in the left lane at the very end? I notice there’s not a single truck in sight.

  4. The freeway in the second video is the 110, a.k.a. Pasadena Freeway a.k.a Arroyo Seco Parkway. The view in the first and third scenes is looking southbound over the L.A. River bridge toward Elysian Park; the tunnel in the lower left, originally built for Figueroa Street, is used for the 110 northbound lanes. The angle in the last scene is also looking south, just past the southbound Hill Street offramp (a rare lefthand ramp leading to or from a surface street for a SoCal freeway).

  5. Looks like the 110 going north near downtown alongside what would soon be Dodger Stadium at Chavez Ravine. At least the traffic is moving back then…

  6. Also, that freeway scene is probably from 1958. Didn’t see and ’59 cars going by. As for the Red Car, at around 10 min it passes over the LA River (Sic) and gets close to Long Beach with the oil derricks appearing on the right. Not quite Signal Hill though. I have no sound at the moment, so I may have missed something if there was some narration.

  7. The Model A Ford was taking advantage of the Morning incoming commute traffic on the Arroyo Seco Parkway — to then have the NEW name of: “The Pasadena (110) Freeway” to be in the “fast” lane for the RARE left lane off ramp. You will note that the traffic on the other side is light, as few were Pasadena bound in the AM. NOTE the SPIRAL cement Staircase for pedestrians, on the LHS, going over the LA River; a “left-over” from (1939) “Parkway” days. I notice that Elysian Park is mentioned — but that The “DOGPATCH” neighborhood is not mentioned , Ha, Ha! (NO wonder!) If you are East-bound on this (110) Freeway and making the transition to the 5, Northbound — It’s a rare narrow fast lane ramp –and it goes RIGHT BY the Spiral (Ped.) Staircase!— within a few feet , — very squeezy there! The WORST surprise of the 110 Freeway (finished in 1939’s “state of the art ” was ONLY intended for 45 MPH!, — NOW 55!!! — NO road change!!!) IS the SHORT On & Off ramps that REMAIN, — as do the STOP SIGNS, — on both On & Off ramps!!! THIS makes for VERY spectacular crashes, WRECKS & INJURIES, (or worse!). Have they changed all of this??? (I haven’t been near that area for many years , perhaps it’s been UP – graded, by now ??? ) Nahhh. Edwin Winet

    • Edwin,

      There have been a few changes. Pasadena 210 changed a lot. The big difference that I can see from the video is the fact that motorists of the past seemed to have a lot more in the way of manners and consideration for other drivers. I don’t think we’ll ever see lane transitions like that on today’s LA freeways.

  8. I know that they are powered by the overhead catenary, but at times in the cab you can hear an engine (not motor) of sorts. does it separately power an air compressor or other device?

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