More 360° Panorama Photos from the Epicenter of Carmageddon, July 2011

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Last Saturday night’s concert of the Monkees at the Greek was awesome, especially after coming off the excitement of being on the 405 freeway when it was closed off. As promised, here are some more panorama photos taken at the epicenter of Carmageddon.

On the morning of July 16th, I decided to risk being stuck in what was being predicted to be LA’s worst gridlock nightmare. My plan was to hike up to Mulholland from the valley-side of Sepulveda in an attempt to get some panoramas. But I wanted to see how far up the side of hill I could drive before I hit traffic and then I would hoof it from there.

Photo: Malingering

Interestingly, as I set out on my daring plan the streets were really calm and practically empty. At Sepulveda and Burbank I noticed a gloved traffic cop standing on the corner looking bored. Then at Sepulveda and Magnolia I noticed another traffic cop and several more at the intersection of Ventura Boulevard. This went on for every traffic light as I headed up Sepulveda towards Mulholland and it didn’t take long before I was driving pass the Skirball Center and pass the demolition site as well.

Photo: Malingering

I tried to find a place to park but there was none to be found. I ended up turning around and parking north of Mulholland on a residential street and then walking back to the site. Along the way I met several happy spectators on foot including another blogger who had run all the way from Santa Monica with his Flip video camera interviewing people. I asked him what the name of his blog was but he wouldn’t tell me. WTH? I guess he was afraid I would cyberstalk him! Whatev. I’m glad I declined to be interviewed.

Anyway, I even met a man that rode his bike from Venice Beach. He was repairing what he said was his third flat tire and he was concerned about making it back home with no tire to spare. But I reminded him that MTA was offering free bus rides for Carmageddon weekend and he brightened at the idea of a back-up plan. It’s worth mentioning that the Metro Rapid 761 drove by as we were talking and there was nobody on it!

As I approached the Mulholland Bridge, the site was fenced off and the LAPD were everywhere. I thought for sure I would be told to turn back. But to my surprise they were very friendly and encouraged me to have a look around but to stay on the sidewalk and observe traffic lights.

Above is my second panorama taken on the tarmac of the 405 freeway. I’ve oriented the image to open up looking southbound towards the Skirball Bridge that’s currently under construction. Beyond the bridge are concrete barricades. If you scroll your mouse and do a complete 180 degree turn, you’ll be facing towards the Mulholland Bridge. Due to the nature of panorama photography, it appears tiny and way off in the distance but it really wasn’t that far. However, for safety reasons this was about as close as the press was allowed. Unfortunately you can’t really see the work crews with industrial machinery “woodpecking” away at the bridge bit by bit to bring it down.

Photo: Anthony Citrano

I have to say: it was pretty epic to be standing on the closed off freeway with nothing but what sounded like jackhammers taking down the bridge as well as the sound of helicopters of overhead.

Some folks want to know how I got down to the tarmac. The story is pretty cool, IMHO. Not too far from where all the action was happening was the media village that was chockablock with news crews and satellite dishes. Most of them were just hanging around. One guy even fell asleep upright in his folding chair while his buddy was mischievously taking his photo.

I started talking to some reporters when suddenly the press was invited to walk down the freeway ramp and report from there. Since I didn’t have a “press pass” or any sort of official badge, I was asked by an LAPD officer what news organization I was with. I told him I was a blogger and that was that. Away I went along with the press to photograph this historic local event.

While on the freeway, I met a news crew from Time Warner and happily took photos of them with their iPhone after they had just captured their story. I also talked to a camera operator who told me he was 17 years old when the freeway opened and that he was one of the first to drive it as he flew down the hillside towards the San Fernando Valley on his motorcycle breaking the speed limit. He said at the time it was pretty cool but that now — 51 years later — to be able to walk on the very same spot was pretty amazing, too.

Below is the last of my panorama photos from the epicenter of Carmageddon. As I’ve mentioned, for safety reasons, no one but the demolition crew was allowed close to the Mulholland Bridge. While it was pretty darn amazing to be down on the tarmac when the freeway was closed off, the viewpoint wasn’t too great. In an attempt to find an optimum view I walked up Skirball Drive to Mulholland to where the road turns into Mulholland Bridge.

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Unfortunately it was all fenced off and it was difficult to see much or snap a worthwhile image. But while I was there, I ran into a long time client. She lives about a mile east on Mulholland and she was there with her family to check out the momentous occasion. So I took the opportunity to capture the moment for them. Off in the distance on camera right beneath the green traffic lights you can see some of the demolition taking place. If you can imagine, where the dust clouds are coming from below about 100′ is the 405 freeway. Incidently, the dust was being watered down by a long hose which is not really clear in this image.

While I had a great weekend not only for the fact that I got to take these photos and see the Monkees in concert, the apocalyptic reality of “Carmageddon” itself was about as underwhelming as the Y2K bug. On the news this morning Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky was quoted as saying “Carmageddon, shmarmageddon!” and suggested the city make the event an annual holiday. While I don’t think Los Angelenos will be duped again to the media frenzy and fear tactics that went into play for the second half of the Mulholland Bridge demolition slated for next year, I do hope that maybe the citizenry can join together with local government to make this unique experience happen again soon.


This image is my first in a series of the epic Carmageddon weekend in Los Angeles. More to follow but for right now I’m off to see the Monkees (hey hey!) perform at the Greek.

Please excuse the stitching errors but this pano is a rush to publish. If you’re from Los Angeles I’d love to hear how your weekend is going.

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