Injected this quote into the Wilshire book tonight, and had to share it.
The year was 1924.
It's from a respected study led by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. called "A Major Traffic Street Plan for Los Angeles." Big changes resulted from this report. Suddenly a bunch of narrow streets all over the city were widened into boulevards, a mile apart. On Wilshire that meant cutting the boulevard east through MacArthur Park (then called Westlake Park). Between the park and downtown, tiny residential Orange Street was widened and renamed Wilshire. To make room, the luxurious-for-its-day Rex Arms apartments simply cut off the front 10 feet or so of the building.
Of course, traffic stayed bad. And one reason (among many) is that the same year, ridership on the vaunted street cars peaked and began to go down -- even though the population was soaring. It's one of L.A.'s dirty little secrets: people didn't really like the mythologized Red Cars. They wanted to drive.
Edited 5:20 p.m.