November 1980: Aerial photo of the intersection of the Harbor (110) and Santa Monica (10) freeways just southwest of downtown Los Angeles with the skyline in the background.
When this photo was published in the 2000 Los Angeles Times book “Imagining Los Angeles: Photographs of a 20th Century City,” the accompanying text reported:
Essential to the city’s sprawling character and its attachment to the automobile was the development of a system of toll-free roadways that would deliver commuters briskly to their destinations – at least in theory.
The first freeway, between downtown L.A. and Pasadena, opened in 1939. Today the freeways dominate the landscape and the local psyche. The city’s largest physical structures, they comprise the one experience most Angelenos have in common. The weekday “rush hours” are anything but, though at times this transportation system can be impressively swift.
The lifelines of the city, L.A.’s 18 freeways — most built before 1970 — have spawned a culture of their own, from “SigAlert” traffic jams to drive-by shootings to televised police chases.
This photo by former L.A. Times staff photographer George Rose, was first published in the Nov. 28, 1980, edition of The Times.