The intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Grand Avenue, one of the anchors of the route, featured a pedestrian zone with food trucks, performances, public programs, and information booths, where participants could pick up handy guidebooks to learn about the architecture as they travel up and down the street.
On June 23, thousands of bicyclists, skateboarders, rollerbladers, walkers, and other non-motorists (including more than a few unicyclists) took to the streets and explored iconic Wilshire Boulevard up close, without the usual ambiance of car horns and exhaust fumes.
It was the latest CicLAvia, a recurring event that closes Los Angeles streets to motor vehicles, creating a new way to explore the city, while calling attention to the possibility of a more car-free L.A. In this seventh CicLAvia, a 6.3-mile portion Wilshire Boulevard was closed down for seven hours, from downtown to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
And this time, the street’s Modern architecture was on full display.
CicLAvia: Iconic Wilshire Boulevard was part of the 2013 Getty initiative Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. (Read more about the initiative, then check out tours of Pasadena’s Modernist residential architecture and Downtown Los Angeles’ Modernist skyline).
One of the oldest streets in Los Angeles, Wilshire Boulevard got its start back in 1895, when millionaire Henry Gaylord Wilshire subdivided 35 acres of his barley field and created what would, in the 1910s and 1920s, become known as the most expensive street in the city as it filled with high-rise apartment towers and upscale stores.
The street has changed dramatically throughout the last century; it experienced major development from the 1940s onward, and today it remains one of the densest and most diverse streets in the city. If you ever find yourself sitting in traffic along this typically congested corridor, or waiting at one of the many bus stops, or emerging from one of the many Metro stations, take a moment to study the layers upon layers of history up and down the street.
For now, satisfy your curiosity with some photos I was able to capture. (I didn’t have time to travel the entire route, but I covered a fair amount of ground.) And if you’re eager to learn more about the history of Wilshire Boulevard, I urge you to listen to the free podcasts CicLAvia created for the occasion.