Early Views of Cahuenga Pass

(1882)* - Before roads and rail lines were built, traveling through the Cahuenga Pass was by wagons and horses or on foot. This picture was taken at the summit. There is a saloon concealed among the trees.  


Historical Notes

The Cahuenga Pass has long been a convenient shortcut between the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles Basin. The first Southern Californians likely blazed a foot-trail millennia ago, and by the late 18th century the villagers of Cabueg-na or Kaweenga (the origin of the name "Cahuenga") near Universal Studios regularly trekked through the pass.^*^

The pass was also the site of two major battles, the Battle of Cahuenga Pass in 1831 (a fight between local settlers and the Mexican-appointed governor and his men, two deaths), and the Battle of Providencia or Second Battle of Cahuenga Pass in 1845 (between locals over whether to secede from Mexico. One horse and one mule killed). Both battles were on the San Fernando Valley side near present-day Studio City, and cannonballs are still occasionally found during excavations in the area. Along the route of the historic El Camino Real, the historic significance of the pass is also marked by a marker along Cahuenga Boulevard which names the area as Paseo de Cahuenga.*^




(1882)* - View of the summit of Cahuenga Pass with a saloon, Cahuenga Tavern, situated between the tall eucalyptus trees.  


Historical Notes

Cahuenga is the Spanish name for the Tongva village of Kawengna, meaning place of the mountain.*^




(n.d.)* - View of Cahuenga Tavern, also known as Eight Mile House, situated between eucalyptus near the summit of Cahuenga Pass.  


Historical Notes

In the 1870s, a primitive hotel -- named the Eight Mile House because Los Angeles was eight miles down the road -- rose among a stand of eucalyptus trees inside the canyon. #^^




(ca. 1890)^ - Cahuenga Pass on the San Fernando Valley side.  


Historical Notes

In the center of the photograph was a coach stop where people could stay overnight. It was owned by Geronimo Lopez. The road was narrow enough so that if two teams of horses met, the heaviest one won, the lighter one had to back down. Lightning would hit the horses during storms and was considered a very dangerous pass to cross. Miguel Leonis was killed in the Pass.^



(1890s)* - Two groups of wagons and horses traveling through the Cahuenga Pass.  




(1890s)* - Early travel through the Cahuenga Pass, which connected Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley, was done on bicycles by some. This area would later become Cahuenga Blvd., just south of Whitley Terrace.  




(1892)* - View showing a group of people who have stopped to camp and cook something along their journey through Cahuenga Pass. Other horse-drawn wagons pass them on the road.  




(n.d.)* - View of early Cahuenga Pass as seen from the Hollywood side. The road runs around and through a cultivated area.  


Historical Notes

As late as 1914, filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille rented a wooden cabin in the pass as his home. He rode daily into his studio on horseback -- with a revolver on his hip. #^^




(1906)* - Early view of Highland Avenue north of Hollywood Boulevard as it winds its way toward Cahuenga Pass. Some buildings are visible with hills in the background.


Historical Notes

This is one of the earliest views of Highland Avenue entering Cahuenga Pass.



(1911)* - Tracks are being built through the hills of the Cahuenga Pass as shown on the right side of this picture. On the lower road can be seen supplies coming and going by teams of horses and wagons  


Historical Notes

In 1911, General Sherman (as he was called) added an extraordinary streetcar line. Built over Cahuenga Pass, through North Hollywood to the 1911 town site of Van Nuys, and on to the 1912 town site Owensmouth, now Canoga Park.

Along with the streetcar line, Moses Sherman also built the "$500,000 boulevard" named Sherman Way next to the tracks all of which were the key to the development of the Valley. By 1912, 45 minute streetcar service from Van Nuys to downtown and the "no speed limit" paved road (if you could get your "Model A" to do 30 mph) were key selling points.*^





(1911)**^# - LA Times photo showing sightseers checking out the new Pacific Electric trolley line being built in the Cahuenga Pass between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.  


Historical Notes

The original April 9, 1911, Los Angeles Times caption reported:

Electric Line to Van Nuys Through Cahuenga Pass. This picture shows the railroad as now laid to the highest point in the gap which unites Hollywood with the rich San Fernando Valley. The road will be in operation early in the summer. Express trains connecting the town of Van Nuys with Los Angeles will make only one stop, Hollywood.





(ca. 1920)* - Cars travel on the road past a sign reading "This is Hollywood." Below and to the left is the rail line, which also goes through the Cahuenga Pass. A trolley car is traveling on the tracks.  





(1921)**# - View of the highway through the Cahuenga Pass showing a car parked on the side of the road next to what appears to be a Eucalyptus tree.  





(1920s)^** - Postcard view looking north showing the Hollywood Hills from Mulholland Drive, with a few houses in the foreground and a faint view of the "Hollywoodland" sign in the upper right.  Cahuenga Pass runs between the rolling hills at center and the mountains in the background.  





(1922)* - View of Cahuenga Pass looking east towards Hollywood. On the left are the railroad tracks, and paralleling them on the right is the road for cars.  




(1922)* - Aerial view of Cahuenga Pass with the San Fernando Valley in the background.  





(1923)^^ - View of Cahuenga Pass from new road leading from Holly Crest Station to new dam in Weid Canyon.  





(1928)^** - View of Cahuenga Pass Road, south from the Summit. Railway tracks are on the left.  




(1930)#++ – View showing a Universal Studios Lumber Convoy on Cahuenga Pass Road. Photo Date: 12/31/30  


Historical Notes

Greatest single truck shipment of lumber ever moved over American highways at one time parades through Los Angeles streets as 100 motor trucks and trailers, carrying almost a million board feet representing a year's supply for Universal Studios, is escorted across town from Los Angeles Harbor by a convoy of police. #++




(ca. 1930)#^ - Aerial view of Cahuenga Pass looking northwest. Whitley Heights is at the left. The Hollywood Bowl is located at center left (out of view).  




(ca.1928)* - Cars travel in both directions through the Cahuenga Pass near the Hollywood Bowl. The roadway through the Pass, the lowest through the Santa Monica Mountains, connects the Los Angeles Basin to the San Fernando Valley. The hills are truncated where they were excavated for the road bed. On the left, a large hillside billboard advertises the The Outpost development in the Hollywood Hills. A roadside vendor is setup near the Hollywood Bowl parking sign on the right.





(ca. 1930)#+ – View showing Pacific Electric car #710 inbound from the San Fernando Valley through Cahuenga Pass.  The streetcar is at the Hollywood Bowl exit at the corner of Highland Ave and Cahuenga Blvd., heading south on Highland to Santa Monica Blvd.    





(1930)#^ - Aerial view of the Hollywood Bowl looking east. The neighborhood of Whitley Heights is at the center of photo. The serpentine Cahuenga Boulevard can be seen as it extends out of Cahuenga Pass (middle-left) toward Hollywood (upper-right).  




(1931)* - Looking down into the site of the future Pilgrimage Play Theatre, revealing the Cahuenga Pass and the Hollywood Bowl in the background. The new structure will resemble the architecture of the Holy Land for the purposes of the play performed there. The previous amphitheater on the site was built in 1920, but a brush fire in October 1929 destroyed that wooden structure.  


Historical Notes

In 1976, the Pilgrimage Theatre was renamed the John Anson Ford Theatre in honor of the late L.A. County Supervisor's significant support of the arts. John Anson Ford (1883–1983) helped found the L.A. County Arts Commission, encouraged the Board of Supervisors to support the building of the Music Center and led the County's acquisition of Descanso Gardens, among many other achievements.*^



(1938)^^ - Birdseye view looking west over Cahuenga Boulevard. The Hollywood Bowl can be seen at upper-left.  At lower center-right a large sign reads:  The Berries Dining and Coca Cola  




(1938)^^  – Street View of Cahuenga Boulevard with 'The Berries' restaurant/café on the right.  




(ca. 1938)* - This view of a Mulholland Highway directional sign, which is attributed to the Automobile Club and includes an AAA logo, is taken from the Cahuenga Pass where Cahuenga meets Mulholland. The natural hillside is visible to the east because this is before the 101 freeway was built. The name of the road would be changed to Mulholland Drive in 1939.  




(1930s)^^ - View looking northwest of Cahuenga Pass with the Pilgrimage Play Theatre parking lot in the foreground.  Cahuenga runs from the foreground at left towards the San Fernando Valley at upper center-right. The Hollywood Bowl is out of view to the left.  





(1938)**^ - Postcard view showing Cahuenga Pass where Highland converges with Cahuenga, "The Gateway to Hollywood".  




Cahuenga and Highland

(ca. 1937)*#^ - Panoramic view looking toward the southeast corner of Cahuenga (left) and Highland Ave (right).  Streetcars and automobiles share the road at this busy intersection. A Texaco service station stands on the corner with the Hollywood Roosevelt Plaza Hotels behind it (Note: this hotel is not related to the famous Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard).  


Historical Notes

This little nestle of buildings was known as the French Village. It was set on a triangular plot of land at the point where Highland Avenue and Cahuenga Boulevard converged as they entered the Cahuenga Pass. This puts it roughly across the street from the front entrance of the Hollywood Bowl. It opened in 1920, and throughout the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, the French Village was home to a revolving community of actors, writers, costume designers, dance instructors and singing coaches. #^^#

To relieve traffic congestion at this busy Cahuenga and Highland intersection, a tunnel was bored under Highland ca. 1937. A large construction boring tractor can be seen at center of photo.




(1938)^^ - Looking southeast at Whitley Heights across the intersection of Cahuenga Boulevard shortly after the construction of the new underpass to Highland Avenue. The entrance to the Hollywood Bowl is just beyond the shoulder of the hill on the right.  


Historical Notes

The seriously complicated solution to the traffic pattern was largely eliminated in the coming years through the realignment and widening of Caheunga.



(1940s)#^^ - View looking northwest showing Cahuenga Pass as it heads toward the San Fernando Valley.  The tunnel at center-right (since closed) extended Highland Boulevard to the north, under the Freeway. The Hollywood Bowl is on left (out of view) on the other side of the freeway.  


Historical Notes

This entire area would change pemanently with the construction of the Hollywood Freeway. The first segment of the Hollywood Freeway built was a two mile stretch through the Cahuenga Pass. That segment opened on June 15, 1940. It was then known as the "Cahuenga Pass Freeway." Pacific Electric Railway trolleys ran down the center of this freeway until 1952.



(ca. 1951)* - Bird's eye view of the Hollywood Freeway through the Cahuenga Pass, looking towards the Valley. The Cahuenga Tunnel under Highland Avenue can be seen at lower center-left. The "Muse of Music" Statue at the entrance to the Hollywood Bowl is visible just to the left of the tunnel as is part of the Hollywood Bowl shell (center-left).  


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(ca. 1930s)^^ - Panoramic aerial view of Hollywood showing the Chauenga Pass as it heads towards the San Fernando Valley.  The major street running from bottom left diagonally up toward the Cahuenga Pass is Highland.   




Cahuenga Pass Freeway

(ca. 1940)* - Panoramic view of Hollywood looking northwest toward the Cahuenga Pass. The newly constructed Hollywood Freeway through Cahuenga Pass (known as Cahuenga Pass Freeway) is visible at the top of the photo, with the San Fernando Valley far off in the distance (compare to previous photo).  


Historical Notes

Built at a cost of $1.5 million and partly financed by the federal Public Works Administration (PWA), the two-mile Cahuenga Pass Freeway eliminated a notorious bottleneck at the place where one of the state's first highways -- El Camino Real -- crossed the Santa Monica Mountains.^*^




(1940)* - View showing the dedication ceremony for the Cahuenga Pass Freeway on Jun 15, 1940.   


Historical Notes

From left to right:  Tom Keene, honorary mayor of Sherman Oaks, Governor Culbert Olson, John B. Kingsley, president of Hollywood Chanber of Commerce, Mayor Fletcher Bowron of Los Angeles, actor and singer Gene Autry, honorary mayor of North Hollywood, Mayor Frank C. Gillson of Burbank, and actor Richard Arlen.*




(1940)**^ - Aerial view looking southeast showing the new Cahuenga Pass Freeway with the Hollywood Reservoir seen at upper left.  


Historical Notes

The Cahuenga Pass freeway replaced a narrow, winding road between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley with an eight-lane superhighway. A pair of Pacific Electric rails ran down the freeway's center divider.




(1940)++^ – View showing the newly completed Cahuenga Pass Freeway looking southwest toward Hollywood with the Mulholland Drive overcrossing at center. The Pacific Electric Railway tracks are visible in the median.  




(1943)^^ - View looking northwest of Cahuenga Pass Freeway with fairly light traffic. Note the Pacific Electric tracks in the center median.  





(1947)*^#* – Postcard view looking southeast showing the Cahuenga Pass Freeway (later Hollywood Freeway), the “Gateway to Hollywood", with Mulholland Drive winding up into the Hollywood Hills in the upper-right.  





(1947)*^*# - View of Cahuenga Pass looking towards Hollywood at the Mulholland Bridge.  




(1949)**^ – View looking northwest across Cahuenga Pass.  The complex on the north side of the pass is the Franciscan Motel (no longer standing) whose entrance was directly opposite the freeway bridge.  




(1948)^^ - View looking toward the San Fernando Valley showing a rare sight - freshly fallen snow in Cahuenga Pass.   


Historical Notes

Snow is a rare occurrence in the Los Angeles Basin. While it's common in the region's mountains, the moderating effect of the Pacific means that at lower elevations temperatures rarely fall below the point necessary to create snow. Since records were first kept in 1921, snow has fallen on downtown Los Angeles only ten times—and not once since 1962.




(1948)#* - View of Cahuenga Pass Freeway with snow already melted on the pavement. Northbound freeway lanes are completely empty.  





(1948)* - View of Cahuenga Pass showing one road of cars end to end heading into the City from the San Fernando Valley during rush hour traffic, with Pacific Red Car tracks at left.  




(1948)#**# - View looking southeast showing Pacific Red Car, tracks, and the Barham Station at center of Cahuenga Pass.  


Historical Notes

The view above is from the top of Barham Bridge which at the time had a stairway running down to the tracks.






(ca. 1948)++^ - View looking northwest showing a Pacific Red Car stopped at the Barham Station with the Barham Bridge in the background.









(1949)* - Early morning commute as cars head into Hollywood and metropolitan Los Angeles from the San Fernando Valley.  




(1949)* - View of the roads, rail lines, and cars traveling through the Cahuenga Pass, the most important section of the Hollywood Freeway, which is the "gateway" that opens fast traffic from the San Fernando Valley into Hollywood and the heart of metropolitan Los Angeles. The short city-built Cahuenga Pass Freeway was opened on June 15, 1940.  




(ca. 1950)^#^^ - A Pacific Red Car returning from the San Fernando Valley travels along the Cahuenga Pass toward Hollywood.  




(1952)#* – View looking north on Cahuenga at Highland Avenue showing a Pacific Red Car heading south toward downtown.  




(1952)^^ -  View of Cahuenga Pass during rush hour traffic on a rainy morning. View is looking southeast toward downtown Los Angeles.  





(1952)*^# - A Pacific Electric Red Car headed south in the median of the Hollywood Freeway near Barham.  


Historical Notes

1952 was the last year Pacific Electric Railway trolleys ran down the center of the "Cahuenga Pass Freeway", (Hollywood Freeway).*^




(1955)* - View looking north from Mulholland Drive bridge showing the Hollywood Freeway with center median stripped away of its rails that had been there since 1911.  





(1950s)*^^ - View looking north through the Cahuenga Pass showing a line of buses which replaced the Pacific Electric Red Car.




Historical Notes

Operation of the Pacific Electric Red Car through the Cahuenga Pass to Owensmouth and San Fernando began in 1911 and was terminated in 1938; thereafter the terminus was at Van Nuys Boulevard and North Sherman Way.  On December 28, 1952, busses over the Hollywood Freeway replaced all rail service to the San Fernando Valley on this line.^^*



Cahuenga and Lankershim

(1947)* - Looking southeast down Cahuenga Boulevard, from just west of where it crosses Lankershim Boulevard (center). Seen, from left to right, are a Richfield service station, Dieterich Motors used car lot, a Foster and Kleiser billboard advertising 1947 Chevrolet automobiles, homes up in the hills, the Tasty Nook Cafe, and various other businesses. Photograph dated August 1, 1947.  


Historical Notes

Ventura Boulevard turns into Cahuenga Boulevard east of Lankershim.



(1949)* – View looking southeast down Cahuenga Boulevard, from just west of where it crosses Lankershim Boulevard (center). Seen, from left to right are the Lankershim Bridge and Tunnel (only partially visible), a Foster and Kleiser billboard advertising the 1949 Ford automobile (left), homes up in the hills, a Rexall drugstore and a Standard oil service station. Photograph dated June 23, 1949.  


Historical Notes

The bridge/tunnel was built in 1948 as part of the Cahuenga Freeway; it is now known as the Lankershim/101 Freeway Bridge and Tunnel.

The corner where the billboard is seen (left of center) was named Yitzhak Rabin Square in 1995 in honor of the slain Israeli Prime Minister.*




(1952)*^*# – View looking north on Lankershim Boulevard at Cahuenga Boulevard showing the freeway underpass built in 1948. Two Pacific Electric Red Cars are passing each other above.  




(1950)* - Cars travel south down the Cahuenga Pass Freeway over the Lankershim Bridge and Tunnel, just north of where Cahuenga and Ventura boulevards meet in Studio City.  


* * * * *




(ca. 1951)* - Aerial view of Hollywood, north of Sunset between Highland and Gower before the second section of the Hollywood Freeway was built (1954). The Hollywood Reservoir (middle right) is in the hills above Hollywood. There is a clear view of San Fernando Valley in the background.  




(ca. 1951)* - Bird's eye view of the Hollywood Freeway through the Cahuenga Pass, looking towards the Valley. The Cahuenga Tunnel under Highland Avenue can be seen at lower center-left. The "Muse of Music" Statue at the entrance to the Hollywood Bowl is visible just to the left of the tunnel as is part of the Hollywood Bowl shell (center-left).  





(ca. 1952)*** – Aerial view showing the end of the Cahuenga Pass Freeway (Hollywood Freeway) near the Hollywood Bowl (left-center). The freeway would soon be extended all the way to Downtaown LA.  





Hollywood Freeway Extension (Cahuenga Pass to Downtown LA)

(1952)* - This scene is just two blocks north of the famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine, the "Heart of Hollywood." Steel reinforced columns jutting from the hillside will soon support new, wide ribbons of concrete approaching Cahuenga Boulevard. Freeway will be a boon to Valley motorists who use Cahuenga Pass.  




(1952)* - View showing the proposed route of the Hollywood Freeway extension connecting Cahuenga Pass with downtown Los Angeles. The arrow points to Cahuenga Boulevard.  





(1953)* - View looking north showing the construction progress of the Hollywood Freeway through Cahuenga Pass with the Pilgrimage Bridge in the background. Highland Avenue is seen on the left where you can see the "Muse of Music" Statue at the entrance to the Hollywood Bowl.  





(1953)* - View of Cahuenga Pass. All Highland Avenue detour traffic now pours into Cahuenga Boulevard while work continues on the northerly links of the Hollywood Freeway. The new link, of course, also discharges its travelers onto Cahuenga.  




(1952)^^- Looking southeast towards a new bridge over Cahuenga Boulevard during the construction of the Hollywood Freeway with the Hollywood Tower in the background.  




(1953)^*^# – View showing the construction of the 101 Freeway through Hollywood at Argyle Avenue connecting Cahuenga Pass with downtown Los Angeles. You can see the Castle Argyle and the Hollywood Tower (lower-right) among the buildings. Source: Life Magazine  




(1954)* - The 101 appears to be open, but the bridge over Highland Avenue is still under construction in January 1954.  




(1954)++^ - View of US 101 northbound from the Pilgrimage Bridge in Cahuenga Pass.  Mulholland Drive exit is on the right.  




(1956)* - Aerial view showing the new Hollywood (101) Freeway connecting the San Fernando Valley to downtown Los Angeles. Cahuenga Pass is at upper-right. The Hollywood business district is seen at center. Clcik HERE to see more Early Views of Hollywood.  


Historical Notes

The second section of the Hollywood Freeway that stretched from the San Fernando Valley to Downtown Los Angeles opened on April 16, 1954 at a cost of $55 million.*^



(ca. 1960s)* - Aerial view of Hollywood and its surrounding areas after the second segment of the Hollywood Freeway was completed (1954). The Hollywood Reservoir and Mulholland Dam an are seen in the hills above Hollywood (upper center-right). Capitol Records Building is in the middle foreground of this photo (it is the cylindrical shaped building whose shape is devised from the vision of a stack of records).  




(1989)^^^ - View of Hollywood from Mulholland Drive. The Hollywood Bowl can be seen in the foreground and the Hollywood Freeway (at left) connects Cahuenga Pass with downtown Los Angeles (background)  





(ca. 1990)#* – Night view looking south in Cahuenga Pass at the Mulholland Bridge.  Lanes of the 101 on the left, Cahuenga Pass Road on the right.  




Cahuenga Pass Then and Now

(1948)#**# - (2015)*### - View looking southeast from the top of Barham Bridge in Caheunga Pass.  





(1964)* - Photo caption dated November 9, 1964 reads, "Cars were jammed on the freeway this morning because of the long-awaited rain, as cautious work-bound drivers moved toward Los Angeles. Photo shows cars in Cahuenga Pass on the Hollywood Freeway driving bumper-to-bumper. Police reported a few fender-bending accidents."  




(ca. 2005)*^^ - Cahuenga Pass as it appears today.  


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References and Credits

* LA Public Library Image Archive

^ CSUN Oviatt Library Digital Archives

^^ USC Digital Library

*^ Wikipedia: Cahuenga Pass; Moses Sherman; John Anson Ford Theatre

#^WhitleyHeights.org: Aerial of Cahuenga; Whitley Heights Aerial

#+Facebook.com: Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation

#*Flickr.com: Michael Ryerson

^**Huntington Digital Library Archive

**^Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com


++^US101 - Socalregion.com

**#The California History Room, California State Library: William Reagh

*^^Metro Jacksonville: Cahuenga Pass

^*^KCET: L.A.'s First Freeways; When Cahuenga Pass Was Rustic

^^*Pacific Electric San Fernando Valley Line - ERHA.org

^^^California State Library Image Archive

*^#LosAngelesPast.com: Cahuenga Pass

*#^Forum Skyscraperpage.com: Cahunega and Highland Intersection

#^^KCET: When the Cahuenga Pass Was Rustic; L.A.'s First Freeways

#++Hagley Digital Archives

**^#LA Times Framework: Cahuenga Pass

*^#*Calisphere: University of California Image Archive

*^*#Facebook.com: Classic Hollywood-Los Angeles-SFV

#**#Facebook.com: Garden of Allah Novels, Martin Turnbull

#^^#The Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society (PERyHS)

^#^^Facebook.com: Vintage Los Angeles

^*^#Facebook.com - Bizarre Los Angeles


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