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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Aerial Los Angeles, Santa Monica and the Bay

photo credit:

Aerial Los Angeles: flying out to LAX a few months back, I grabbed a couple photos out the window via my phone.

Lower left is Pacific Palisades. Following the coast south, where it starts to become urban, is Santa Monica. The buildings along Wilshire Blvd can be seen as they snake their way up through Brentwood, Westwood Village, around Century City, through Beverly Hills, Hancock Park, Koreatown, and into downtown Los Angeles.

photo credit:
From this angle, Hollywood is directly north of Pacific Palisades, about two thirds up the photo. The little white dot in the hills is the Hollywood Sign. Malibu begins at the very lower left. In the distance are the San Gabriel Mountains. As an aside, 40 years ago smog would have made this photograph virtually impossible. Today, of greater concern is traffic congestion.

Malibu, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and downtown Los Angeles. Thanks to the entertainment industry, the influence that this swath of land has on the rest of the planet is incredible.

I like this quote from urban planning expert Dan Rosenfeld from this weekend's Los Angeles Times:

"We live in the greatest concentration of human talent in the history of the world. We spawn popular culture — film, fashion, food, even finance — for the entire planet. Further, we are the urban laboratory for the future world. Solutions to megacity challenges such as water scarcity, recycling, mobility, diversity and income inequality — those solutions will be invented and tested here. L.A. can be messy, crowded and hard to manage, but it's a good place to be relevant."

© 2015


Saturday, March 7, 2015

McClure Tunnel, Santa Monica: End of One World, Beginning of Another

image: Susan Haskell
I recently came across Los Angeles area artist Susan Haskell's painting of the McClure Tunnel.

Beautiful work that captures the awe of coming out of the tunnel at the end of the Santa Monica Freeway and out onto the Pacific Coast Highway.

There are many stunning views in Los Angeles, but in terms of views that can only be experienced while driving, the view at the end of the McClure Tunnel ranks at the very top.

image: McClure Tunnel Santa Monica (
The Santa Monica Freeway, which starts 2500 miles (4000 km) away in Jacksonville, Florida - ends at the tunnel, which curves and opens up of the Pacific Ocean. The tunnel was actually built in 1935 and is only 400 feet long. The curve, keeping the ocean from view until you emerge from it, is what makes it so unique.

I remember the first time coming through the tunnel at age 7, when my family moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. Seeing the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains for the first time was stunning then. And it's still stunning.

Sort of. I would NEVER recommend trying to take a photo coming out of the tunnel while trying to navigate a dark curving tunnel with traffic - very dangerous. Google street view is the next best thing.

What was once one of the most stunning views in Los Angeles is marred by Cal Trans decision to place a work yard, complete with large metal storage bins, right at the mouth of the tunnel. Really? Los Angeles is a huge place. They couldn't find another place for this?

Here's an ariel shot. Gives a better idea of what seems like an incredibly stupid decision. Like other major cities Los Angeles faces a list of challenging problems. I'm sure "marring the view coming out of the McClure Tunnel" is not on the top of the list. On the other hand, it's the hundreds of little things like this that can make living anywhere delightful or loathsome. Kind of like graffiti or trash along the road.

image: Susan Haskell 

Susan Haskell obviously knows a beautiful subject when she sees it. Here's the same shot, only a sunset. And here's hoping that the Cal Trans storage yard will find another home. And this one small part of experiencing Los Angeles will be restored to how it was originally envisioned. 

© 2015