warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Crossing Los Angeles: Photo Essays Of L.A.'s Iconic Streets

Staff Photographers |
October 23, 2013 | 7:53 p.m. PDT

Wilshire Boulevard stretches 16 miles across Los Angeles. Sunset Boulevard started as a cattle trail in the 1780s. Sepulveda Boulevard is one of the longest streets in the United States.

With a street network comprised of approximately 6,500 centerline miles of streets and 800 centerline miles of alleys, the City of Los Angeles not only has the largest municipal street system in the nation, but also is home to some of the most historic streets in the nation. We chose a few iconic streets that stretch east to west and documented their transformations, daily life, shops and residents.

The essays are snapshots of L.A.'s clashing cultures, histories and idiosyncrasies. Take a walk:


One of the oldest streets in the city, Broadway was laid out around 1849 and runs from Lincoln Heights to the Eastside, passing through Chinatown, L.A.'s historic commercial and theatre districts. The street is home to a host of old motion picture palaces, most which date back to the 1920s. See a historic angle of the street here.


Definitely one of the most iconic streets in the country, Melrose is also now a mecca for graffiti artists. The street also houses Melrose Hill, whose homes were built between 1911 and 1926 and is now historically preserved by the city. The Historic Hollywood Hotel sits at the intersection of Melrose and Wiltern, first built in 1927 and is now a national landmark.

The famous avenue starts in Beverly Hills and ends in Silverlake, with a whole lot happening in between. The first Johnny Rockets' opened its doors on the avenue in the 1980s and Paramount Pictures still sits prominently as one of the fifth oldest surviving film studios in the world.


Also one of the oldest east to west thoroughfares in the city, Beverly Boulevard starts in downtown and ends in Beverly Hills. One of L.A.'s oldest restaurants, Nate and Al's, opened its doors on the avenue in 1945. Beverly also cuts through the city's Jewish community, hosting one of the oldest Temples in the city built in 1932. Charming prewar buildings lining the stretch between La Brea and Fairfax. CBS Television City and Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema add a celebrity twist.


Once part of Route 66, Figeuora street stretches about 30 miles north to south. It also used to be known as Pasadena street and one of the straight-shots to Pasadena. Now the street runs through South Park, Bunker Hill and Eagle Rock to downtown L.A.'s bustling Staples Center. Proposition C funneled over $20 million for the Figeuroa Corridor project to transform about four miles of the street.


Arguably the most famous street in Los Angeles, Sunset Boulevard began as a cattle trail in the 1870s. Now, with its beginning and end spanning from the Pacific Palisades on the Pacific Coast Highway and Boyle Heights, the boulevard exemplifies L.A.'s often polarized pockets and neighborhoods. Boyle Heights is now more than 94 percent Latino.

On the far western end of Sunset, by contrast, Pacific Palisades is 89 percent Anglo, with a median income of $168,000, five times higher than Sunset's other end. The street passes through gentrified neigborhoods like Echo Park, Los Feliz and Silverlake before hittin Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Brentwood. Famous cultural landmarks still dot the boulevard's 22-mile stretch, like Amoeba Records, the House of Blues, Sunset Gower Studios, the Beverly Hills Hotel, Will Rogers State Beach and Chateau Marmont

Check back for more L.A. Streets.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.