The first freeway in California was opened in July of 1940. The Writer’s Almanac website had this shout-out to Southern California’s 110 on its July 20th birthday: “Known as the Arroyo Seco Parkway, the Pasadena Freeway, or simply "the 110," it was also the first freeway — a high-speed, divided, and limited-access thoroughfare — in the western United States. It runs for just over eight miles and connects Pasadena to Los Angeles.
Today, the Arroyo Seco Parkway remains much as it was in 1940, even though it wasn't designed for the speeds that motorists travel today: There are no acceleration and deceleration lanes, and drivers must go from the on-ramp speed of five miles per hour up to the freeway speed of 55 in a short and hair-raising distance. It was intended to carry about 27,000 cars a day; today, it sees closer to 122,000. But it's still the most direct route from Pasadena into downtown LA.”
The photograph from our collection is from circa 1950s.
---Wendy Welker, California Historical Society Archivist