Driving through the Figueroa Street Tunnels might be one of L.A.'s most dramatic freeway experiences. As you plunge through the first Art Deco portal, the downtown skyline recedes in your rear-view mirror. A minute later, leaving the last of the four bores, you enter the world of the Arroyo Seco Parkway: sycamore trees, sweeping curves, and arched bridges.
The tunnels weren't always part of the state freeway system. Built between 1930 and 1936 by the city of Los Angeles, they originally carried Figueroa Street through the rugged terrain ofElysian Park. Two lanes traveled in either direction, separated by white double stripes. Pedestrians were welcome, if not expected; a single five-foot sidewalk (since removed) ran alongside the forty-foot wide roadway.