Looking to transform a grimy-looking stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard, the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council applied this week for city grants to help pay for what’s being called the Route 66 project. The proposed streetscape improvements would gussy up 22 blocks of the corridor between Hoover Street to the 101 Freeway.
Armen Makasjian of the Santa Monica Boulevard/Route 66 Task Force says his group hopes to capitalize on Route 66’s reputation as one of the nation’s best known highways. The effort would be modeled in part after West Hollywood’s own stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard, he tells Curbed.
Granted, East Hollywood’s goals are more modest: The Task Force wants more trash cans, cleaner bus stops, and less tagging. Longer-term goals include adding Historic Route 66 marker signs, benches, bike racks, and decorative trash cans. Anything to lure more pedestrians and more shops, really. “We haven’t had any new businesses moving in,” says Makasjian of the area. “You have to have more services.”
About 50 people, including business owners, and City Councilman Eric Garcetti, who represents the area, attended a recent neighborhood meeting to talk up goals for the area. “Santa Monica, like Melrose, is one of those great streets that have languished,” said Garcetti at the meeting, encouraging the group’s work.
Invoking Route 66, which at one point traversed eight states, and was disbanded in 1985, as a historic marker is often successful. The Cucamonga Service Station off Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga was designated a historical landmark two years ago because of its position as a pit stop on the highway.
Michael Wallis, author of the book “Route 66: The Mother Road“ said he was pleased to hear about East Hollywood’s plans. “It’s music to my ears to hear about these grassroots efforts,” said Wallis, who said he has seen numerous examples of thoughtful preservation and commercial efforts along the highway.
And while East Hollywood may not be seeking tourists, Europeans — particularly the French and the Brits — “love to drive the entire route,” he said. Viva la Santa Monica!