South Gilmore Lane Is L.A.’s Most Exasperating Street

Taking the 405 at quitting time is easy compared to driving from one side of The Grove to another. How Kyle Fitzpatrick survived the cross-mall journey

You know that little road at The Grove, the one that separates the main stretch of stores from the Farmers Market? That’s South Gilmore Lane. And while it’s perfectly open to cars, there are always so many people standing in and crossing South Gilmore Lane that driving on it is incredibly stressful—like a real-life version of Crossy Road. Thankfully, L.A.’s most popular mall has hired part-time crossing guards to help keep the byway safe on weekends.

Now, I’m of the mindset that unless you are a tourist, you have no excuse for driving down South Gilmore Lane. But for some reason, I found myself on it—in a car—on a recent Saturday.

My boyfriend Bobby and I were out to pick up groceries and, as we usually do, we tried to park in the Farmers Market lot by taking 3rd Street to Gilmore. (Who wants to park in the congested structure when good old lo-fi parking is an option?) The lot was full. It was a Saturday morning and apparently everyone had had the same idea. Suddenly, I was possessed by an optimistic, possibly Midwestern spirit. “Let’s try going down this little street and parking on the other side,” I said to Bobby. After all, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

As we headed north on Gilmore, people started creeping out into the street. My stomach began to drop. Then I realized our full misfortune: the crossing guard was nowhere to be seen.

We slowed to a stop, the only car on the road. People were crossing the street, but staring at us, too. “Why did you say to go this way?” asked Bobby. I shrugged, feeling hot and self-conscious. Two kids walked by, talking about us, I’m sure. Then a thought popped into my mind: Will someone we know see us trying to drive through The Grove? I shuddered.

We tried to inch forward, but the walkers just kept on walking. A man tapped the front of our car, as if to say he had shopping to do and we were in his way. Another shook his head in disapproval. A kindly grandpa stopped at my door and motioned for us to move ahead, acting as a de facto crossing guard. Even that didn’t work: too many people kept entering the street for us to make any progress. After a moment, he gave up on helping us and hobbled across the street.

“This was a terrible idea,” said Bobby. I couldn’t muster a response; I had the weight of The Grove on my shoulders. He drove a few feet, then stopped to let someone pass. Then he drove a few more feet and stopped again. Eventually, after an entire class of schoolchildren made it safely across South Gilmore Lane, we reached the point of no return. Walkers stopped cutting us off, and we zoomed through to Farmers Market Place.

“Do we even want to stay here anymore?” I asked Bobby. “That took forever.” “That took five minutes,” he laughed. I couldn’t believe it. I would have guessed the ordeal had lasted closer to an hour, or maybe five. At least Bob’s Donuts was near.