LA Proposes Park Over 101 Freeway

"A wound that needs to be healed"

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By Ash Blankenship

The submerged 101 Freeway which runs through Downtown Los Angeles disconnects important parts of the city including Union Station and Chinatown. It is a trench that urban designers agree needs to be fixed. The 101 Freeway is “what urban planners believe is a wound that needs to be healed,” says Conan Nolan of NBC News 4. “Few attempt to cross the 101 Freeway on foot.”

Built during the age of the automobile, the development of the 101 Freeway took little consideration into creating a pedestrian-friendly project. That may soon change.

Proposals have been developed to cap the 101 Freeway, allowing the city to build a park, which will reconnect downtown districts and create a pedestrian-friendly public space. 

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The 101 Freeway currently (top) and the proposed PARK 101 (bottom). Photos courtesy of Friends of PARK 101.

This past summer, the Los Angeles City Council approved plans to partner with Friends on PARK 101, a nonprofit organization which has drafted proposals to create the park. 

"A CAP PARK OVER THE 101 FREEWAY IN DOWNTOWN IS AN INNOVATIVE IDEA TO RECONNECT DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOODS"

“A cap park over the 101 Freeway in Downtown is an innovative idea to reconnect Downtown neighborhoods separated by the 101 Freeway chasm,” wrote City Council member Jose Huizar. “A freeway cap park in Downtown could create important linkages and open space connecting the Civic Center with Olvera Street, Chinatown, and Union Station as well as minimize freeway pollution and noise and promote economic development of the areas north of the Civic Center.”

The plans include a Heritage Trail District, which would connect Hill Street to El Pueblo and Union Station, an outdoor amphitheater, and a plaza to connect El Pueblo and downtown.

The project to cap the 101 Freeway and build a public park is similar to the recently-built Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, which was developed above Woodal Rodgers Freeway.

“The PARK 101 District is poised to become the next great place in Los Angeles and indeed Southern California,” notes Friends of PARK 101. “It forges a new roadmap toward urban sustainability and economic prosperity for Los Angeles.”


Ash is the founder and editor-in-chief of Parksify and also writes about urban policies, technology, sociology and other topics for a range of publications, including Urban Times, Medium, Tiny Buddha and others.

Prior to founding Parksify, Ash worked at the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based nonprofit journalism organization.

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