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Los Angeles: South Atlantic Boulevard and Santa Ana Freeway

Saturday’s feature image contains an early-1950s view of South Atlantic Boulevard where it crosses the Santa Ana Freeway in the Boyle Heights neighborhood south of Los Angeles. Construction of the majority of the Freeway (I-5) which replaced earlier roads began in 1947 and was completed in 1956.
The vehicles in this picture date from 1930 to ’31 on up to then current models at the time the enlargeable photo below was taken. Share with us what you find of interest in this photograph via This Was Americar.
Editors note: Due to the Veterans Day holiday weekend this is our last post until we return again on Monday morning.

17 responses to “Los Angeles: South Atlantic Boulevard and Santa Ana Freeway

  1. That is a fancy GMC pickup with a bed shell, sun visor and twin spot lights, maybe an early camper. I think that the Pontiac and Buick on the overpass are 1952 models. Great Divco too.

  2. What’s up with the pickup visor?
    Painted to mimic the windshield and center post?
    Transparent plastic (which makes no sense for a visor unless it was heavily tinted)?

    • John,

      I think it IS tinted inserts. I remember these visors on cars, and the worst feature was that if you were first in line at a stoplight (or had stopped too far forward), it was almost impossible to see the stoplight hanging in the middle of the intersection. They used to sell a prism device that mounted on the dashboard and gave you a small view of the lights above the intersection so you could see when it changed to green.

  3. There seems to be a large age gap in vehicles here. Can anyone name the oldest and newest vehicle in the photo? I like this as it appears to join the past with the future, a great picture.

  4. Visors at that time were heavily tinted, kind of like sunglasses. Cut direct sunlight, but let one see such things as traffic lights and overhead signs. As for the freeway itself, this was our magic carpet to Disneyland and the much older Knott’s Berry Farm. We were stuck on major surface streets coming from the LAX area until gliding on to the Santa Ana much later. A real trip for dad with 3 or 4 kids screaming in excitement, though the new ’56 Chevy was a step up.

  5. Christianson Dairy of Rhode Island still use Divco trucks of the type above . My family has an account with these people and as recently as 11/9/2018 they made a delivery in one of these trucks to my family home. Kingsbury toys of Keene NH made a very authentic toy of the Divco. Like the Model A Ford in the photo it’s a classic.

  6. Okay, while on the subject of LA, DIVCO Trucks and Freeways, one has to talk a bit about Helms Bakery, well known to many older Angelenos. The distinctive delivery trucks the ran were originally Twin built and after the merger with DIVCO, DIVCO Twin. However, the decision was made to discontinue the snub nosed delivery trucks they used, so Helms bought unused snub nosed chassis from DIVCO and had local SoCal body makers provide their distinctive and clever bodies. Helms out a variety of engines in them, from postwar Studebaker to Packard and they were needed as Helms delivered fresh bakery goods to an ever growing clientele, even going as far as Fresno….before completion of the Freeway system! Those not familiar with the truck can see one at the Peterson Museum, but I remember their distinctive whistle and running after our dedicated deliveryman for some great donuts, and when rich, for a 15 cent cream puff… Toot toot!

  7. Our family moved to L.A. in 1955 when I was 12 years-old. Although rare, we would regularly see Model-A Fords still driving on the roads with the occasional car parked – seemingly ‘permanently’ – at the curb along both major thoroughfares as well as on smaller side streets around town. It was a transitional time as far as the road systems were concerned with major freeway in the process of construction or about to be built. Some of the notable landmark roadside stores were still in business; I remember spotting a Model-A parked along the curb on Sepulveda Blvd., not far from the intersection with the giant donut sign when we made the drive to Long Beach to visit relatives. I can still conjure up the excitement of being a boy in L.A. in the mid-50’s, always on the lookout for an old car with a 4-sale sign in its window.

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