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Los Angeles 1941: Massive Traffic Jam on the Miracle Mile

Today’s feature image takes us to Los Angeles, California for a view of a massive traffic jam on Wilshire Boulevard. The gridlock started on Sunday, April 13, 1941, when the annual “Miracle Mile” Wilshire Boulevard Easter Parade began. The Gaylord Hotel and Apartments building on the right-hand side of the view is housed in a thirteen story building that first opened in 1924 when rooms could be purchased in the building starting out at $7850 fully furnished. The Gaylord has survived and can be seen in this recent street view of the scene.

There is a wide variety of automobiles in the view that range from about 1933 to the latest, a 1941 Cadillac on the far right with a rare 1937 Willys waiting in line just in front of it. Tell us what you find of interest in the photograph.

Learn more about the thoroughfare and view other images at an earlier article The Miracle Mile – Wilshire Boulevard Comes Alive in Los Angeles. The photo was found via Water and Power Associates.  

31 responses to “Los Angeles 1941: Massive Traffic Jam on the Miracle Mile

  1. I find the Packard on the far right equipped with sidemounts and blanked out rear quarter windows VERY interesting. Could there be some movie studio exec or big Hollywood star lurking within?

    • Hi Gene, perhaps, but they’re all the same sitting in traffic. I’d think the bigger issue, is Officer O’Leary with his hand on his hip. That’s not good. Maybe going for his service revolver, “I’ll get things movin”, just like in Texas,,,

  2. Great picture !!

    1st car facing the camera, on the far left, is a 1938 BUICK.

    1st car driving away, on the far right, is a PACKARD limousine, possibly a 1938.

    • Driving away from the camera, stuck in traffic on the right, at the intersection, with people walking in front of it, is a two-tone 1941 PLYMOUTH [3 cars forward of the PACKARD limousine] .

  3. What caught my eye was the low roofline on the early thirties coupe just behind the Graham. Were they chopping roofs in California in 1941? It doesn’t seem otherwise altered.

    • The small Chrysler product coupes of that year had “chopped” tops as a design feature that year. Some liked it, many didn’t.

    • I think the car in front of the low roofline coupe is a 1937 Willys not a Graham and next to it is a 1934/36 Hupmobile.

  4. The reflection on the trunk lid of the Cadillac looks like a 1941 Chevrolet. What a great photo of pre WWII vehicles.

  5. That 41 ‘Cadillac was the first car I purchased used in 1950. I was working at a Cadillac dealership in Detroit and purchased my fastback version for $ 600. The original seat covers were still in place. It ran perfectly !

  6. At this very moment all those people’s grandchildren are sitting in the same traffic jam — but there are a couple of differences: Their cars are air-conditioned, and they aren’t anxiously staring at the temperature gauges.

  7. The Gaylord is now apartments, info their website.

    Bill thanks for the comments, I don’t allow copy and pastes because they lower the site’s Google search ratings.

  8. Looks like a Willys in front of the ‘chop top’ coupe. The big coupe – plate ending 624 – in the middle? Lincoln? Or Chrysler?

    • David, your comment about Aerodynamic gave me a smile. I have a New Yorker cartoon showing a new Chrysler Airflow stuck in Manhattan traffic. The driver is saying “And, we’ve got wind resistance just about licked.”

  9. Impressive to me ( I know, it’s LA, and the depression was easing ) is,,, except for one, they all got shine. Would love to see it in color, hear it, and smell all those hydrocarbons. Probably smelled better than Philly. Just kidding y’all; loved my home town, smog and all. 🙂

  10. What a group of interesting cars! Behind the 1941 Cadillac 62 is a 1933 Packard Eight 1002 style 623 or Super Eight 1004 style 663 convertible sedan. The other Packard in the lower right corner is a 1940 Super Eight 160 1803 style 1376 or Custom Super Eight 180 1806 style 1356 club sedan with the optional side-mounts. Very choice Packards, hope both survive.

    Ahead of the 1940 Packard is a 1933-34 Plymouth coupe; next, the narrow, light-colored, four-window slope-back sedan is a 1937-40 Willys, next is a 1941 Plymouth two-tone sedan.

    Middle row begins with a 1937 Cadillac 75 sedan, next a 1939 Mercury coupe, then a rare-even-then 1934-’36 Hupmobile Aerodynamic sedan, next a 1938-’40 Cadillac 75 or 90 sedan or limousine.

    The left column, the sedan with the trunk-lid suspenders is a 1936 Oldsmobile, remainder of cars are general low-priced, popular makes.

  11. Unlike today’s rush hours ,the majority of these cars would have manual transmissions . This would add greatly to the frustration factor.

    • Only the brand-new looking Cadillac at the right could have the Hydramatic transmission (pioneered by Oldsmobile the year before).

  12. Saw post by TOM BEAUBIEN about his first 1941 Cadillac.

    My first 1941 Cadillac was a 60 Special Fleetwood – I bought it in July 1979, at age 14. It had 17K miles on the speedometer and I drove it to 2015, at that time it had about 97,500 miles on it and I had rebuilt about every mechanical part at least once (some parts as water pump had done ten times). It was stunning in original black paint (you could see the lines in your hand from 10 feet back via nitrocellulose paint) with a medium blue and white flat broadcloth interior and had every option excepting Air Conditioning. It was delivered new to a General at Richenbacker field in Columbus, OH, to travel with them to Florida to eventually reside at their home in Oakwood, OH. I drove the car very little in 2013 and 2014, and it was time for a new owner – I found a fellow who appreciated it being an AACA Historic preservation award car. As a sidenote: I have been one of the younger Classic Car Club of America members for years now and encourage those younger to give earlier cars a try (ex. our Hagerty Youth Judging group at Cincinnati Concours d’Elegance was 39 Kids this year) . Today, the garage is filled with a matching pair of 1936 Auburn 852 Phaetons, a 1932 Rolls-Royce Springfield, a 1955 Buick Roadmaster Riviera Hardtop w/factory A/C, and a 1963 Austin Healey BJ7 MKII (all be it a few cars too many for my time availability).

    • I have known John for some time and when I joined the CLassic Car Club of America 45 years ago was one of the younger members at that time. What John says is true, younger people should give earlier cars a try, for the most part they are easier to work on mechanically as eveything is right then in front of you. CCCA has a lot of marque technicians that can be contacted and I have never found anyone unwilling to share knowledge about how to fix them or their history. Try to attend a CCCA event, ask to talk to one of the club officers and speak to the car owners. Nice people.

  13. By the way: The radio tower is the former home of KFAC on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills = Fuller Auburn Cord – the Auburn Cord Duesenberg dealership for Los Angeles. And, within eyeshot would have been the Brown Derby restaurant.

    • Nice call-out John, you beat me to it. The radio station was originally in Pasadena serving up only “goid music“ originally, not classical. That happened latger on when E.L.Cord wondered what all the huge 12inch record albums on the library shelves contained. He soon found out they were famous classical music albums of the `30s and he authorized airing. Thus was born L.A.` s fine classical radio station. Many amazing announcers including Thomas Cassiday,Carl Princi, and so many others entere our lives presenting beautiful recorded concerts of all genres of classical music for a life time of enjoyment an appreciation . KFAC-AM 1330 Kc., later on KFAC-FM 92.3 Mc.. The AM transmitter moved south to near Rodeo Rd. /Crenshaw district and is still on air. The FM transmitter is also still on air emanating from Mt. Wilson. Both are very mediocre talk and ethnic music stations. KFAC moved their studio west to the then new Prudential Square building (in the Museum Row of Miracle Mile, just a little east of The Petersen Auto Museum which was originally a department store corner of Farifax Ave.) .. KFAC used microwave remote control (STL) of their new AM and FM transmitters. KFAC maintained high quality signals and fine hi-fi stereo MPX FM signal with simulcast. They even transmitted some very early AM-FM stereo broadcasts to avid listeners with two tuners in their new stereo component home systems before FM-MPX was introduced around 1960. The KFAC classical radio stations changed ownerership and format. Luckily, KUSC-FM at 91.5 MHz , non-commercial radio, continues with the finest in classical, live concert, and Metrolpolitan and L.A. Opera broadcasts in an even finer presentation 24 hours a day.

      Car radios were the rage of course in L.A. and so were fine console upright radios in homes.

      The two and three story building also housed E.L. Cord`s personal offices. All was demolished some time in late 1960-70s time frame. A huge high rise bank amd commercial offic building was erected. This area is now affectionately known as Korea town. I went to the site about three years ago.

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