Photograph courtesy of Dick Whittington Studio
Maybe it’s a flashback to our cave days, but driving through the Figueroa Street Tunnels—the set of four portals along the 110 freeway that separates downtown from Highland Park and Pasadena—provides a thrill. Even in soul-sucking traffic, they offer four times the joy of motoring through the tunnel in Malibu Canyon or the one at the Sepulveda Pass. They’re also more graceful, with their art deco facades and subway-tile walls. Three tunnels went up in 1931 on the Pasadena side; the last was completed in 1935. Five years later that portion of Figueroa debuted as part of the first freeway in the West. Even today it’s tempting to honk and listen for the echo as you wheel toward the swoops of the Historic Arroyo Seco Parkway.