Yesterday’s post of a vintage 1968 photo of Los Angeles’s traffic-clogged Hollywood Freeway reminded me of one of my favorite vintage travel ads… this one from 1957 sponsored by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
The ad’s star attraction wasn’t Hollywood, or beaches, or shopping… but rather the spectacle of Southern California’s freeway system. Featuring a tourist couple and their bored-looking daughter gazing at the wonders of a complicated highway interchange, this ad touts Los Angeles County’s “ultramodern highway system” as one of the wonders of visiting Southern California.
Of course, neither this ad’s image nor yesterday’s traffic jam shot may be representative day-to-day life in each respective era, but it sure seems that people’s impression of Southern California’s highway system went from being a modern marvel to a congested headache in about a decade. California isn’t alone in that regard – in my native city of Philadelphia, older folks talk about having picnics at spots overlooking the Pennsylvania Turnpike or the City’s 12-lane Roosevelt Boulevard. That phenomenon probably hasn’t happened since the 1950s – which is likely about when the last instance of tourists pulling over to gawk at a Los Angeles interchange occurred as well.
I have no idea what this particular LA interchange looks like today, but my guess is that it’s not nearly as verdant or quaint.