Thursday, February 27, 2014

Photo Essay: Walking the 110

Every time I drive north on the 110 freeway by Elysian Park, I always notice the pedestrian walkway on the left, dotted by these olde tyme hook lampposts. I'm fascinated by the idea of being able to walk a freeway (and have not-so-secretly hoped that CicLAvia would shut down a freeway in favor of bikes one of these days), but I'd missed opportunities to join public walks of the path in the past.

This Saturday, I finally got to go, having some time to kill in the afternoon and wanting to stay on the east side. I kind of thought it would be like, "Well, there it is," and then I'd move onto my evening plans, but actually, it was fascinating, and I suspect I've only scratched the surface of the walking that you can do around the 110.



We started our journey in Northeast LA, technically in Cypress Park, just east of Elysian Park and the LA River, heading under an overpass that looked like any other.



It's easy to miss the narrow stairs leading up on one side, under the overpass, marked only by a dirty mattress tossed on the sidewalk. This is the first sign that more people probably sleep in this area than walk through it on a commute.



Built in 1937 to alleviate congestion, the 110 - also known as the Arroyo Seco Parkway, a national scenic byway - starts at the Four-Level Interchange in Downtown LA at its southern terminus, and heads north all the way to Pasadena (hence its short-lived, former identity as the Pasadena Freeway).



It actually opened to traffic in 1940, making it the "first freeway in the West."



It was designed for cars maintaining 45 mph, although the posted speed limit is now 55 mph, which many cars far surpass today, making it a bit wonky to not only maneuver all of the banked turns, but to enter and exit on extremely short ramps.



But perhaps even more interesting than driving it — which is scenic for sure — is walking it.



You cross the LA River by the Old Figueroa Street Bridge...



...along the railing and viaduct by the northbound 110...



... and northbound 5 sidehill viaduct...



...to a circular staircase around the freeway pilings at Avenue 19, right by the confluence of the Arroyo Seco and the LA River.



Climbing up the staircase, glancing down at the lower level of the freeway, the train tracks of the Metro Gold line, and the river flowing below...



...right by the north portal of Tunnel #4, we began our journey south...



...along the northbound side, passing many of those decorative street lights...



...and the four, four-lane tunnels that take cars through (well, under) Elysian Park.



Along the way to Solano Canyon, we were able to enter the gated fences that separated us on the walkway from the homeless encampments built into the hillside slopes...



...to get a better view of one of those Art Deco tunnels...



...and to wander a bit down an old decommissioned dead end paved road (which I'll have to go back and explore to see where it goes).



There are actually lots of pedestrian offshoots from the main 110 walkway...



...though we mostly stayed between the fences, looking down through the chainlink.













We descended from our walkway journey in Solano Canyon...



...by Stadium Way, from which we made our way to the North Broadway Bridge at Solano Ave...



...a 1911 bridge that was (and still is) an entrance to Elysian Park...



...between Radio Hill Gardens and Buena Vista Meadows.

Upon my first walk of the 110, I suspected there were many ways to walk the 110, giving me more to discover on foot, and hopefully lots of more photos to take.