Almanac: The Los Angeles freeways “Stack”


September 22, 1953 was a milestone in motoring history, for it marked the opening, in Los Angeles, of a freeway interchange known as “The Stack.”

It was as if the General Motors “Futurama” exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair had come to life … 32 lanes of traffic on four levels, allowing drivers to switch from one freeway to another without ever having to cross another lane of traffic.

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The Four-Level Interchange (a.k.a The Stack) at the juncture of the Hollywood and Santa Ana Freeways, the Harbor Freeway, and the Arroyo Seco Parkway in Los Angeles. CBS News

At the time its design was hailed as a breakthrough, as described by one commentator: “We can have our superhighways in the sky – fabulous futuristic forms, like this Hollywood freeway interchange, which sorts flowing traffic eight ways at once!”

Officially named a Civil Engineering Landmark, “The Stack” eventually lost pride of place to still other, and even more elaborate, interchanges around L.A.

And it long ago lost its renown as a time-saver, now that some half-a-million cars a day frequently slow traffic on this “superhighway in the sky” to a crawl.

… Leading some Angelenos to ruefully remember that “The Stack” stands on the site of what used to be the Los Angeles city gallows.

Story produced by Robert Marston. 

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