How Your Favorite (or Hated) SoCal Freeway Was Built

They may be the most pervasive landscapes in southern California. The freeways, highways, and interstates that slice through our lives have become so mundane that it's easy to forget that these massive transportation corridors were crafted over years, some even decades, for our daily use as commuters.

Click on the images below to read ten brief histories of SoCal roadways and the culture they spawned:


1) The Invention of "The Stack"

stack freeway

"This iconic concrete ribbon that binds the 101 and 110 freeways is an almost inescapable feature of many Southern Californians' commute."

2) How did the 710 Become America's Most Important Freeway?

710 freeway

"The Long Beach Freeway has become the country's most important -- although clogged -- economic artery, in the vascular system of American capitalism."

3) How the Pacific Coast Highway Was Built

pacific coast highway

"Admired for its scenery and dreaded for its traffic – as well as the landslides that occasionally render it impassable – Pacific Coast Highway is perhaps Southern California's most iconic ribbon of asphalt."

4) Was the Arroyo Seco Parkway the First Freeway in America?

arroyo seco

"Highland Park is home to many of Los Angeles' firsts, including the first freeway in the United States."


5) How Sepulveda Canyon Became The 405

405 Freeway, Sepulveda Pass

"L.A.'s most hated stretch of freeway began as a bucolic country road through the Santa Monica Mountains."

Story continues below

6) How El Camino Real, California's 'Royal Road,' Was Invented

El Camino Real in San Fernando

"Mission bells along Highway 101 imply that motorists' tires trace the same path as missionaries' sandals. But much of El Camino Real's story is imagined."

7) What are the Lost U.S. Highways of SoCal History?

lost us highways


"Our first interstate highway system once linked Southern California to the nation with concrete pavement and black-and-white shields."

8) The Improbable Creation of Angeles Crest, L.A.’s Highway Into the Heavens

highway angeles crest

"Built between 1929 and 1956, the Angeles Crest Highway forever changed the once-remote mountain backcountry it traverses."

9) Why Do Southern Californian's Love Saying "The" Before Freeway Numbers

highway southern california

"How did Southern Californians come to treat their highway route numbers as if they were proper names?"


10) Why are California's State Highway Shields This Shape?

State Highway Shield (header)

"Does the shape of California's state highway shield mimic the spade of a Gold Rush miner?"


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