Once the police had stopped all traffic on the Northbound 110, I came to the very immediate conclusion that I could not afford to get a citation for trespassing (if that were to happen), so I grabbed former classmate Frannie Garretson and absconded the back way into the wilderness next to the freeway. To me, this became part two of the performance, because it was a whole new adventure into landscape.
The spiral staircase lies in the distance
Though this staircase lies in utter disorder, it maintains the feeling of sanctuary that one might find in an old cathedral - cavernous and cold.
This second experience became even more about the character of space, how we interact with space, and where we, as citizens, dare to go. In part one of our journey, we traveled through various abandoned staircases and walkways, left to fall into decline upon new additions to the freeway. These passageways are still open to the public, but clearly never used. They are a dead space, both monumental and haunting, flanked by the beautiful and dystopic channelized LA River.
The river is a true transect, full of intersections
Pedestrians, Trains, Water, and Cars all meet here.
Traversing this landscape, it became very clear that we, as pedestrians, had lost the battle. We were merely trespassing on land that had been claimed by larger things- what comes to mind is that we have been superseded by The City. When the police spoke to the performers about why they could not perform above the freeway, they stated that the land over the 110 tunnel “was property of the highway.” Fascinating!!
Amazingly, this former pedestrian walkway, which still allows public access, walks directly onto the freeway!!
Many of the pathways we took remain open to the public, but it is clear in their access and terminal destinations that they have not actually been considered for pedestrian walking. Above is an image at the bottom of the spiral (fancy?) staircase that descends directly to the intersection of where the 5 Northbound turns off of the 110. You can note, that as a walker, you can continue if you dare, but within 15 feet (see yellow arrows), you will be directly on the freeway with no barrier whatsoever to protect you from speeding cars.
View from the spiral staircase, your destination lies ahead.
The journey became increasingly interesting as we segued from concrete urban jungle to actual urban wilderness. Going the back way from the top of the tunnel, we discovered a very walkable meadow with a pathway descending to a park, the park so unknown that it is not listed on Google Maps. Locals, however were in full swing with their Saturday BBQs and soccer match.
A way out...
Determined to get back to where we were, but not coming the same way, we abandoned the park and wandered through the wilderness of the freeway hillsides. These hillsides were clearly not unknown to everyone- paths, tents, and small details of human whimsy led us to the “pedestrian” pathway. These hills clearly belong to some citizens…
People make their way
Following these clues, we found our way back to where we came from with a completely new perspective of our city.