A trip down memory lane via the Arroyo Seco Parkway

One of the highlights of a new Caltrans-sponsored exhibit honoring the Arroyo Seco Parkway, aka Pasadena Freeway, is a short video clip that contrasts scenes of the parkway when it opened in 1940 against contemporary views of the same locations. Caltrans posted a version of the video – “The Arroyo Seco Parkway: Then & Now, 1939 and 2010” – on their site but it’s tiny. The Eastsider asked for a version of the clip and posted the larger version seen above.

The cars and trains (don’t miss the smoke-belching locomotive crossing over Highland Park)  may have changed but there are landmarks that have not, including the Southwest Museum, the South Pasadena sign and the hills of Northeast Los Angeles.

Video courtesy Caltrans


  1. Thanks so much for posting this! It’s probably the best thing Caltrans has ever done. The version on their site is the size of a postage stamp, so you’ve done us all a great service. GREAT!

  2. This is great in so many ways—thanks so much!

  3. higher rez, pls, kthx bai

  4. Hi Chris!…found this on one of the blogs I read from time to time and thought of you…it’s a video of the then just completed Arroyo Seco Parkway (1939)…and then showing what it looks like today…(in some ways, kinda sad).


    Ken : )

  5. Yay! What a great idea to build this disgusting, noisy, belching, monstrosity of a freeway through the heart of several communities! What progress! What vision!

    Has anyone praising the freeway walked beside it?

    CalTrans should be punished for making such a disgusting landmark. They’ve ripped apart our city in more ways than have ever been documented.

    It will be a happy day when this beast is torn out or collapses under the weight of its maintenance liabilities.

  6. Really cool! Thanks for this neat little glimpse of then & now.

    Def the coolest thing Cal Trans has done lately!

  7. whoever stood in (what i hesitate to call) the shoulder of the modern freeway to shoot this video is suicidal. Love the video, though.

  8. It has way too many digital artifacts — far more than necessary, even for the internet. I’ll bet it’s possible to go back to the original digital media file and do much better with the compression settings.

  9. It was a pretty accurate depiction of the history and times that once graced Los Angeles. I live in the community of Rose Hills, perhaps the heart of the City, aside from the once thriving river. As part of my research over the last 6 years, I have uncovered archives indicating that this entire area, locally about 3-5 mile around was once called Rancho Rosa de Castilla, before that it was called ‘OTSUNGNA’ by the native Tongva Indians. Each of those names still carry to this day, reffering to the Rose as the prominent feature of the land. Rose Hills, still holds the destinction of refference to the Rose, saying that, it means that Rose Hills is the oldest community in Los Angeles by date and the most prominent area of historical value.
    You will also find if you cehck the archives and do plenty of research, that ‘OTSUNGNA’ was the greatest Village of the time (Before 1769) and hold the sole title of being the Tongva Indians largest Village in the L.A. Basin. The whole City was founded around “OTSUNGNA” <~~~~~ place of Roses, and directly in the village of YANGNA, which is at Olvera Street in Downtown. If you wold like for me to provide hard documents, and photos I will, reach me at

    [email protected]
    Anthony Manzano

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