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Freeway Construction Was the Real Carmageddon for L.A.'s Communities

After a weekend in which Los Angeles successfully navigated the closure of one of its most clogged freeways once again, we look back at the disastrous effect that freeway construction had on L.A.'s communities during the middle of the last century.
October 1, 2012, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Carmageddon II went off without a hitch this past weekend, as Angelenos easily adjusted their schedules and transportation plans to avoid the closure of a crucial stretch of the San Diego Freeway and celebrated their local communities. However, for three decades in the middle of the last century, and with repercussions ever since, the process by which the Santa Monica Freeway was planned and constructed tore apart L.A.'s neighborhoods. Nathan Masters traces the planning and construction of the I-10 Freeway, "an indelible marker across the Los Angeles landscape, a mini-equator that delineates boundaries between cultural and historical hemispheres of the city," segregating the affluent north of the city from the disadvantaged south. 

Constructed as part of L.A.'s second generation of freeways, the I-10 was built as "part of a broader statewide and national effort."

"With this backing," says Masters, "came bolder plans and a tendency to subordinate local concerns to the needs of the larger region. Mapping their proposed routes, planners drew lines straight through established residential communities. Houses and local businesses along the route were no more an obstacle than existing surface streets or water mains; the state would purchase whatever property it needed, relocate residents, and reconfigure the neighborhoods around the new freeway."

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Published on Friday, September 28, 2012 in KCET Departures
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