Most parks and beaches are closed but pedestrian accessible islands are open anytime to hang out as long as you don’t interfere with any substantial government interest such as traffic safety. A small group of us met on a triangular island in Carthay Circle for an evening picnic. This island has a couple of benches as well as a statute that was stolen a few years back but eventually returned. It is also in the center of Carthy Circle, which was originally marketed in the 1920s as a perfectly planned city for the new professional/managerial class:
We hung out and had some food, and chatted about the city, Kristin told shared with us her protracted efforts to have a crosswalk put in near her home on a busy street. PJ talked and showed some images about SLOAPs (space left over after planning) in Sweden. He told us about an island that had frogs that lived nowhere else, protected by the isolation of the island (perhaps no man is an island but a species of frogs is happy to be an urban Galapagos). He also told us about he attempts to use an island as part of an architectural project but was unable to secure usage because nobody in the city knew who had jurisdiction over the liminal space. And Heidi shared with us that the architect Victor Gruen’s office is across the street from our picnic triangle last week. His innovation was the fully enclosed shopping mall.
After the food and chat, we walked around and noticed the local landscape: an old 1970s bench, a fountain that has forgotten to work and the statute of a gold panner that brought fancy to our imaginations. We packed our things and decided to leave our triangular island to stroll along the islands on San Vicente Blvd, a former street car route. [slideshow id=3 w=550 h=400]
What a shame we lost one of the best intracity transportation systems to the Great American streetcar scandal (also known as the General Motors streetcar conspiracy and the National City Lines conspiracy) described here and here. The streetcar route along San Vicente that went went from Hill St in Downtown to Santa Monica into Beverly Hills (the BH post office used to be a street car station and continued west through West LA, which was called Sawtelle back in the day. Service on the route was completely abandoned by 1940. The MTA library said, “It was Pacific Electric Red Car route that branched off of Venice Boulevard up San Vicente to Santa Monica Boulevard where the West Hollywood Streetcars Yard was located (today’s Metro West Hollywood Bus Division). The line, “Santa Monica via Sawtelle”, was converted to bus July 7, 1940. The islands were called “safety zones” and were just painted on the street surface. At the end away from the intersection there was often a triangular marking with “cat’s eye” markers on the round metal. All this was to discourage motorist ignoring the safety makings and thus “mowing down” unwary patrons boarding or alighting from streetcars. Conversion to buses meant curb loading.”
For more information about this line see the file below courtesy of the MTA Library and visit here.
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