Broadway (Los Angeles)

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Location Los Angeles
Northeast end
South end SR 91 in Carson

Broadway is a major thoroughfare in Los Angeles, California, that runs from Lincoln Heights on the Eastside, through Chinatown, passing through Central Plaza and the Dragon Gate, the Los Angeles Civic Center, passing the Los Angeles Times building at 1st Street, and Broadway's historic commercial district and theatre district in Downtown Los Angeles.

From Downtown, Broadway runs through South Los Angeles, Athens and Rosewood, and into Carson, where it ends at Main Street, just north of the San Diego Freeway.


One of the oldest streets in the city, it was laid out as part of the 1849 plan of Los Angeles made by Lieutenant Edward Ord and named Fort Street. Fort Street began at the south side of Fort Moore Hill (a block north of Temple Street) at Sand Street (later California Street).

In 1890, the name of Fort Street, from 1st Street to 10th Street, was changed to Broadway. The rest of Fort Street, from California Street to 1st Street, was changed to North Broadway.[1][2]

Proposal for opening Broadway through to Buena Vista Street (now North Broadway), and extending the street south into what was then part of Main Street, below Tenth Street, in order to give a continuous, wide thoroughfare from the southern city limits to the Eastside, was made as early as February 1891.[3]

The Broadway Tunnel under Fort Moore Hill was opened in 1901, extending North Broadway to Buena Vista Street at Bellevue Avenue (later Sunset Boulevard, now Cesar Chavez Avenue).

In 1909, construction on a bridge across the Los Angeles River was begun to connect Buena Vista Street to Downey Avenue, which ran from the river to Mission Road. The names of Buena Vista and Downey were then changed to North Broadway.[4][5] The bridge, which continued to be referred to as the Buena Vista Street Bridge for a good while, was opened to traffic in late September 1911.[6]

For more than 50 years, Broadway from 1st Street to Olympic Boulevard was the main commercial street of Los Angeles, and one of its premier theater districts as well. It contains a vast number of historic buildings and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Chinatown East Gate on North Broadway.

Before World War II, Broadway was considered by many to be the center of the city, where residents went to ornate movie palaces and shopped at department stores. Some historically significant buildings include the Bradbury Building and the Julia Morgan-designed Los Angeles Examiner building.

Virtually all of the movie theaters on the street have fallen into disuse and disrepair, and some were replaced with parking lots. The department stores have closed, but Broadway has for decades been the premier shopping destination for working class Latinos.[7]


Broadway starts off at Mission Road in Lincoln Heights, on the Eastside, and heads due west (although signs along the street read "North Broadway"). After crossing the Golden State Freeway (Interstate 5), it curves to the southwest, passing through the old railyards north of Downtown Los Angeles before descending into Chinatown, passing through Central Plaza and the Dragon Gate.

After crossing Cesar Chavez Avenue and the Hollywood Freeway, Broadway enters the Los Angeles Civic Center. It then passes the Los Angeles Times building at 1st Street and enters the historic Downtown commercial district.

From Downtown, it continues south into South Los Angeles for about another 10 miles (16 km), merging with Main Street just north of the San Diego Freeway in Carson. A section of Broadway in South Los Angeles was originally named Moneta Avenue.



Broadway street view. The Los Angeles Theatre appears at center.

Between Third Street and Olympic Boulevard are a dozen historic theaters known as the Broadway Theater District—the largest surviving collection of pre-WWII movie palaces in the United States, including the 1918 Million Dollar Theater, the first Los Angeles movie palace built by Sid Grauman, the 1931 Los Angeles Theatre and the 1926 Orpheum Theatre.[8]


Revival Plans[edit]

Currently, the Bringing Back Broadway initiative is working on reviving the famed Los Angeles boulevard.

Led by City Councilman Jose Huizar, the commission has recommended widening sidewalks, eliminating traffic lanes, constructing new parking structures, and even bringing back a streetcar, reminiscent of the city's past.[9]

Public transportation[edit]

Metro Local lines 2, 4, 30, 40, 45 and 330 operate on Broadway, as well as Metro Rapid line 745; most of those only serve Broadway in Downtown, but Line 45 serves the majority of Broadway beginning at Lincoln Heights and Line 745 serves Broadway between Cesar Chavez Avenue and Imperial Highway. In addition, there are 5 Metro Silver Line Stations served on the Harbor Transitway close to Broadway: 37th Street/USC Station, Slauson Station, Manchester/I-110, Harbor Freeway/I-105 Station, and Rosecrans Station. The Harbor Transitway is located on the I-110 freeway, between Figueroa Street and Broadway.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "City In Brief." Los Angeles Times. Sep. 6, 1889. p. 8.
  2. ^ "No Title." Los Angeles Times. Feb. 18, 1890. p. 4.
  3. ^ "Sou', Sou'west." Los Angeles Times. Feb. 26, 1891. p. 4.
  4. ^ "A Literary Fog." Los Angeles Times. Nov. 30, 1909. p. II 4.
  5. ^ "The Lancer." Los Angeles Times. Jan. 22, 1911. p. II 5.
  6. ^ "Majestic; Great Viaduct About Ready; Cars Run Over the Buena Vista Structure; Concrete Bridge Across Los Angeles River Weighs Nearly Forty Thousand Tons, Cost Two Hundred and Seventy-five Thousand Dollars—Without a Peer in West." Los Angeles Times. Sep. 24, 1911. p. II 1.
  7. ^ a b DiMassa, Cara; Bloomekatz, Ari B. (January 28, 2008), "L.A. plans Broadway face-lift", Los Angeles Times: B1, B8 
  8. ^ Geffner, David (January–February 2008), "Screen Gems", Westways 100 (1): 62–65 
  9. ^ Bringing Back Broadway

External links[edit]