Broadway (Los Angeles)

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Broadway
Maintained by
Location Los Angeles
Northeast end
South end SR 91 in Carson

Broadway is a major thoroughfare in central Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, southern California. The Broadway Theater District in Downtown Los Angeles is the first and largest historic theater and cinema district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Broadway looking north from Fourth Street, ca.1904-1905.
Broadway street view, with the Los Angeles Theatre at center, 2006.

Route[edit]

Broadway begins at Mission Road in Lincoln Heights 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 and Downtown Los Angeles. There it passes through Grand Park, and Broadway's historic commercial district and theatre district.

Broadway continues southwards from Downtown through South Los Angeles for about another 10 miles (16 km), through Athens and Rosewood, and into Carson, where it merges with Main Street just north of the San Diego Freeway (Interstate 405).

History[edit]

Broadway is 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]

Broadway Tunnel, southern entrance at Fort Moore Hill (lower right), with former Los Angeles High School (upper left).

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). A section of Broadway in South Los Angeles was originally named Moneta 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]

Commercial and theater district[edit]

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 and movie palace districts as well. It contains a vast number of historic buildings and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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

Some of the movie theaters on the street fell into disuse and disrepair, some were replaced with parking lots, but many have been repurposed and/or restored. The department stores closed in the 1970s and 1980s, but Broadway has been the premier shopping destination for working class Latinos for decades.[7] The Downtown's real estate revitalization, using the City's adaptive reuse ordinance that makes it easier for developers to convert outmoded and/or vacant office and commercial buildings into residential buildings, has reached the Broadway Historic District. It includes the transformation of the United Artists Theater office tower into the Ace Hotel Los Angeles, and restoration of its movie palace.

The Bringing Back Broadway commission is working on further reviving the landmark Los Angeles boulevard in the historic district. Led by City Councilman Jose Huizar, the commission has recommended widening sidewalks, eliminating traffic lanes, constructing new parking structures, and bringing back streetcar service reminiscent of the street's past.[8] A pedestrian-friendly project finished up in December 2014 that widened the sidewalks and replaced the parking lane with planters, chairs and round cafe tables with bright-red umbrellas. The Great Streets Initiative seeks to bolster the street-level health of the city by making several dozen boulevards more hospitable to pedestrians, cyclists and small businesses. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the effort represents "a shift from the way that our neighborhoods have been planned in Los Angeles," with a new focus on "walkability and transit."[9]

Interior atrium court of Bradbury Building.

Landmarks[edit]

Theaters and cinemas[edit]

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.[10]

Other structures[edit]

Public transportation[edit]

Buses[edit]

Local

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 from Lincoln Heights southwards. Line 745 serves Broadway from Cesar Chavez Avenue, through Downtown, to the Imperial Highway.

Silver Line

In South Los Angeles, there are five Metro Silver Line Stations along the Harbor Transitway, a dedicated rapid transit busway just west of Broadway:

The Harbor Transitway is located in the median of the Harbor Freeway (Interstate 110), running between South Broadway South Figueroa Street from South Los Angeles to the Harbor Gateway Transit Center near Long Beach. Other Metro bus lines, and other transit agencies' bus routes also operate on the Harbor Transitway, and/or have street level transfer connections at the Metro stations.

Chinatown East Gate, on North Broadway.

See also[edit]

References[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. ^ Bringing Back Broadway
  9. ^ Hawthorne, Christopher (December 6, 2014) "'LATINO URBANISM' INFLUENCES A LOS ANGELES IN FLUX" Los Angeles Times
  10. ^ Geffner, David (January–February 2008), "Screen Gems", Westways 100 (1): 62–65 

External links[edit]