Charles Phoenix’s Slide of the Week: Freeway Poser, 1959

freeway poser
Freeway Poser, 1959

I love it when people decide to take their official new car portrait on the right shoulder of the Hollywood freeway in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Does anybody even take an official new car portrait anymore?

The sky is the haziest of pale blues. The monumental modern Federal Building stands as stately as it still does. Split-neck streetlamps spotlight the slow lane and shoulder at night.

Beautifully framed between the ivy covered canyon slope on one side and light traffic speeding by on the other, a young lady about town strikes a proud pose with a brand-spanking-new butterscotch metallic 1959 Chevrolet Nomad Station Wagon – so new that it doesn’t even have a license plate.

Her smart sunglasses soften the golden glare of the mid-day Southern California sunshine. The belt of her otherwise plane-jane, yet timeless classic, cotton sundress is trimmed in turquoise. Yes, the car is low and wide but she is tall by any feminine standards.

The vast expansion of Southern California’s “toll-free”-way system during the 50s and 60s made it the most advanced metropolis on earth. More than anything else in the built environment, freeways defined the modern era and forever changed the landscape, lifestyle and distance between town and country as they connected our spectacular cities and space age suburbia’s ever so conveniently.

Southern California’s freeway system is so Tomorrowland. It reminds me of Autopia at Disneyland. Only it’s much bigger, free to ride on and you can’t just crash into the car in front of you for fun.

Charles Phoenix

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