Laurel Canyon Freeway

A theme I intend to develop here someday is big things that were proposed for the Valley but for assorted reasons never happened. Disneyland, Los Angeles International Airport and a stadium lead the list, but freeways are close behind. The east-west Whitnall Freeway across the center of the Valley would have destroyed my family’s Northridge neighborhood. Now a new blog about Laurel Canyon recalls the 1950s plan to bludgeon through the wild canyon. Only one fragment of the Laurel Canyon Freeway ever got built—the stub of wide lanes where La Cienega Boulevard veers off the northbound 405 near LAX. The freeway would have sliced through historic South Carthay, up the Crescent Heights corridor and over the canyon to the Valley. Ugh. If the plan had been carried out, Mulholland Drive would be a ridgetop expressway and Reseda Boulevard would cross the Santa Monica Mountains in some form—as Edgar Rice Burroughs envisioned around 1930 when he dubbed landlocked Tarzana the “Gateway to the Sea”—to reach the beach. Wouldn’t shock me if those latter developments come to pass in the traffic-choked future, but I’m confident there won’t be a freeway through Laurel Canyon.

Map is from California Highways’ history of Southern California freeways.