Arroyo Seco Parkway marking 75th anniversary

Arroyo Seco Parkway, Los Angeles

The Arroyo Seco Parkway will mark its 75th year of existence this month.

The 8-mile stretch of highway, aka Pasadena Freeway or 110 Freeway, opened Dec. 30, 1940. The Los Angeles Daily News provided background on that day:

The occasion was marked by parades and proclamations. Rose Queen Sally Stanton cut the ceremonial ribbon, opening it to traffic. With that, the drive time between the two cities was reduced from 27 to 12 minutes and the first of the many freeways to come was in business.

The Arroyo Seco Parkway became Route 66 from 1940 to 1964. Other facts about it:

  • The highway wasn’t designed just for a more-expedient drive, but allow motorists to enjoy the scenery, too.
  • Local officials discussed a freeway in the area as early as 1913 and a road there almost 20 years before that.
  • The highway remains mostly unchanged, except plants in the median made way for safety barriers.
  • The name of Arroyo Seco Parkway officially was restored in 2010 after being called Pasadena Freeway for more than 50 years.
  • It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.
  • Designers built the freeway without destroying four bridges that date as far back as 1895.
  • Officials banned trucks on the Arroyo Seco Parkway shortly after its completion, explaining why it remains in good condition.

CalTrans a few years ago uploaded rare Kodachome film footage of the Arroyo Seco Parkway from just before it opened in 1939:

Freewayjim, who’s filmed drives all over the country, posted this more recent footage:

(Vintage postcard image of the Arroyo Seco Parkway via Illinois Digital Archives)

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