Caltrans is seeking the city’s support in declaring the Arroyo Seco Parkway, also known as the 110 Pasadena Freeway, a national historic monument. On Thursday, the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission will review a staff recommendation to support having the West’s oldest freeway listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But the state highway agency’s effort to designate the freeway a national historic monument comes only months after it angered the Highland Park Heritage Trust and other preservationists by demolishing sections of the freeway median and other features for a safety improvement project. Preservationists had tried to block the construction project to find a way to save what were viewed as the historic features of the freeway, which opened in 1940 as a scenic highway linking downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena.
The Highland Park Heritage Trust said it supports the nomination. But the group said in a statement that it was concerned about “the nomination’s lack of clarity” about what features of the highway contribute to its historic status and make them worthy of protection. “Not enough was written in the nomination to easily understand all the elements that are part of the road, how much is still intact and can/should be preserved going forward,” said Highland Park group said.
The proposed motion before the Cultural Heritage Commission said that the city has concerns “about the ongoing loss of historic fabric” related to the Caltrans project. But the city hopes that declaring the Arroyo Seco Parkway a national monument will guide work on the creation of a proposed Arroyo Seco Parkway Historic District along the freeway.
* Update: The Cultural Heritage Commission on Thursday, Oct. 7 voted to support the motion with modifications. The motion now goes to the City Council for review and a vote.
Postcard image from ArroyoSeco.org; bottom photo from Highland Park Heritage Trust