US 101: Ventura / Hollywood / Santa Ana Freeways

101_shieldVentura / Hollywood / Santa Ana Freeways
Runs from the Oregon Border on the coast to I-5 at the East LA Interchange

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The US 101 Freeway is composed of a few different freeways passing through very divergent areas. In the downtown area, it is the Santa Ana Freeway, mostly constructed between 1946 and 1952. North of the Four Level Interchange, it becomes the Hollywood Freeway, constructed between 1940 and 1958. It still retains quite a few of its original bridges and railing as well. With little exception, the Hollywood Freeway hasn’t been widened, making it one of the earliest examples of an eight-lane freeway. North of the 134/170/101 Interchange in the North Hollywood area, the 101 becomes the Ventura Freeway. This freeway competes with the 10 and the 405 for the “Busiest Freeway” moniker. It is a competition that seems to never end.

US 101 also has its southern terminus in the East Los Angeles Interchange. It officially begins on the Santa Ana Freeway where it passes underneath the lanes connecting to the I-10 West. Seems confusing? It is just the way Caltrans handles the routes. I-5, its traffic having left further south, is still the official route on the Santa Ana until this point. Route 5 then “steps up” to the lanes above to continue is journey north.

Santa Ana Freeway

US 101 at its southern terminus looking north. The bridges in the background are the connectors to I-5 (Santa Ana southbound) and I-10 at the East Los Angeles Interchange. This section of US 101 was opened in 1947.
US 101 at its southern terminus looking north. The bridges in the background are the connectors to I-5 (Santa Ana southbound) and I-10 at the East Los Angeles Interchange. This section of US 101 was opened in 1947. Officially, Route 101 begins at the centerline point on the Santa Ana Freeway at the centerline of the first tall overpass.
6th Street Viaduct, northbound. Constructed in 1932.
6th Street Viaduct, northbound. Constructed in 1932.

These overhead structures are as old as the freeways (early 1950’s). These have carried all the designations ever given. The signs themselves are much younger (60’s-90’s) :

Here at the San Bernardino Split, US 101 and I-5 are cosigned on the overhead signs for a short while. I-5 doesn't go here, but US 101 blends directly into it.
Here, southbound at the San Bernardino Split, US 101 and I-5 are cosigned on the overhead signs for a short while. I-5 doesn’t go here, but US 101 blends directly into it.
Near the San Bernardino Split - US 101 NB
Near the San Bernardino Split – US 101 NB
Original signage on the same structure from the 50's.
Original signage on the same structure from about 1955. The sign was installed in 1954. It was removed in 1965 and replaced with a new sign closer to the split. Note the older signage to the right.
Sign plans from 1954 showing the signage at the San Bernardino Split, heading NB.
Sign plans from 1954 showing the signage at the San Bernardino Split, heading NB.
Sign plans from 1965 showing the removal of the 195x sign at NB 101 and Route 10.
Sign plans from 1965 showing the removal of the 1954 sign at NB 101 and Route 10.
San Bernardino Split in 1948. Santa Ana Freeway comes from the left and heads towards the tanks in the distance. The San Bernardino Freeway is on the right.
San Bernardino Split in 1948. Santa Ana Freeway comes from the left and heads towards the tanks in the distance. The San Bernardino Freeway is on the right.
San Bernardino Split in 1955 with the WB 10 to SB 101 flyover ramp in place. It was removed in 1995.
San Bernardino Split in 1955 with the WB 10 to SB 101 flyover ramp in place. It was removed in 1995.
End Freeway sign being replaced with Los Angeles Street in 1952.
End Freeway sign being replaced with Los Angeles Street in 1952.
Through the Downtown Slot near Alameda St.
Through the Downtown Slot near Alameda St.
Downtown Slot approaching the Four Level
Downtown Slot approaching the Four Level
Aerial view of the Four Level from 1998. Courtesy - Caltrans
Aerial view of the Four Level from 1998. Courtesy – Caltrans
1954 view of US 101 at the Four Level Interchange, looking easterly toward Los Angeles City Hall.
1954 view of US 101 at the Four Level Interchange, looking easterly toward Los Angeles City Hall.

Hollywood Freeway

View of Vermont Avenue OC with landscaped freeway median. Note the bus stop along the right shoulder. Traffic is northbound. The wide median was built for the planned Beverly Hills Freeway interchange (SR-2).
View of Vermont Avenue OC with landscaped freeway median. Note the bus stop along the right shoulder. Traffic is northbound. The wide median was built for the planned Beverly Hills Freeway interchange (SR-2).
Old bus stop and pedestrian railing at Vermont Avenue. This style of railing was used from about 1949 to 1955 on bridges with sidewalks.
Old bus stop and pedestrian railing at Vermont Avenue. This style of railing was used from about 1949 to 1955 on bridges with sidewalks.
Old signage at the Highland Ave offramp, on Cahuenga Blvd. A left arrow next to "Civic Center" marked a former onramp to SB US 101.
Old signage at the Highland Ave offramp, on Cahuenga Blvd. A left arrow next to “Civic Center” marked a former onramp to SB US 101.
Unusual signage on Cahuenga Blvd. This was placed by the City of Los Angeles.
Unusual signage on Cahuenga Blvd. This was placed by the City of Los Angeles.
1959 view of the Hollywood Freeway.
1959 view of the Hollywood Freeway near Vine St.
View of the Mulholland Drive OC from 1940. The Pacific Electric Railway tracks are visible in the median.
View of the Mulholland Drive OC from 1940. The Pacific Electric Railway tracks are visible in the median.
Old freeway at Highland Ave. US 101 traffic took the tunnel. Highland Ave traffic went to the right.
Old freeway at Highland Ave. US 101 traffic took the tunnel. Highland Ave traffic went to the right.
1938 postcard of Cahuenga Pass. This shows the canyon before the freeway dramatically changed its appearance.
1938 postcard of Cahuenga Pass. This shows the canyon before the freeway dramatically changed its appearance.
1954 view of US 101 northbound from the Pilgrimage Bridge in Cahuenga Pass.
1954 view of US 101 northbound from the Pilgrimage Bridge in Cahuenga Pass.
Pacific Electric car waiting at the Barham Blvd station in the median of US 101.
Pacific Electric car waiting at the Barham Blvd station in the median of US 101.
Barham Blvd OC
Barham Blvd OC
More views of the Barham Blvd interchange from the old ramps. These ramps were taken out of service about 35-40 years ago.
More views of the Barham Blvd interchange from the old ramps. These ramps were taken out of service about 35-40 years ago.

Ventura Freeway

At the 101/170/134 Interchange, US 101 transitions onto the Ventura Freeway.

Approaching Balboa Blvd, southbound. This section is from the late 1950's, widened to ten lanes in the 1980's.
Approaching Balboa Blvd, southbound. This section is from the late 1950’s, widened to ten lanes in the 1980’s.
101 at the 23. These signs are fairly clean and have no extra reflectors.
101 at the 23. These signs are fairly clean and have no extra reflectors.
Passing through the Conejo Valley, near Wendy Dr.
Passing through the Conejo Valley, near Wendy Dr.
Older signage on NB 101 approaching the 126 Freeway in Ventura.
Older signage on NB 101 approaching the 126 Freeway in Ventura.
At the 126 in Ventura. Note the cosigned SR-1.
At the 126 in Ventura. Note the cosigned SR-1 and the change from Santa Paula to Santa Clarita for SR-126.
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