What’s In a Name: Let’s Ditch Those Freeway Numbers

Wouldn’t it be better if driving wasn’t all 10s and 110s, but Gardenas and Artesias?

LA’s prettiest freeway names are reserved for its smaller, less celebrated roads. The Foothill Freeway (the 210) is named in reference to Foothill Boulevard and the San Gabriel Mountains, to which the road runs parallel from the Sylmar district, east to Redlands. The Garden Grove Freeway, otherwise known as State Route 22, travels between Long Beach and Orange by way of Garden Grove. The Gardena Freeway is the 91 between the 110 and the 710, but is named the Artesia Freeway between the Long Beach Freeway and its intersection with the Santa Ana Freeway at the Fullerton-Anaheim border. Orange is the 57, connecting the interchange of the Santa Ana Freeway and the Garden Grove Freeway near downtown Orange (this section, which the 2002 edition of the Guinness World Records book cites as the most complex road interchange in the world, is known locally as the Orange Crush) to the Glendora Curve interchange with the Foothill Freeway. Marina is the 90, linking Marina del Rey from Slauson Avenue in Culver City to just past Culver Boulevard, where it forms the border between Del Rey and Westchester and terminates at Lincoln Boulevard. But on the eastside the route is known as the Imperial Highway, connecting La Habra, Brea, Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills; The Riverside Freeway is both the 91, from the San Diego Freeway in Buena Park to the Pomona Freeway (State Route 60), and the 215, from the Pomona Freeway to the San Bernardino Freeway.

This vast network of concrete arteries may appear drab on the surface, but lingering under its history is an abundance of paradisiacal notions. Think of them as you drive, and perhaps your view of the traffic in which you sit will take on a more interesting tone. Imagine how our oft-mocked direction-based conversation would sound, if we used these names instead of numbers. “Get back on Gardena, take it to Artesia, then switch over to Harbor and let it dump you out to Sepulveda where you belong!”