this is legendary! Belmont Tunnel , it’s the place where all Los Angeles Graffiti started . it’s a sick and rad this to look at and view all the art these guys created . It’s something kids from the west coast like me would know about …└A . #losangeles #la #belmonttunnel #graffiti #art

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Belmont Tunnel/Toluca Substation and Yard


The Belmont Tunnel was designated as a Los Angeles historic-cultural monument in 2005.  It is located on Lucas Street where Beverly Blvd. and 2nd Street split.  As you could see from the pictures above taken circa 2002, this site was a well-known site amongst LA graffiti artists as one of the graffiti landmarks, an intersection for many artists to meet and throw up their pieces or tags, similar to the many pieces and tags that change weekly at Venice Beach.  Today, it is covered by the Belmont Station Apartments, completed in 2008, accommodating for the overflow of residents as they spilled over from downtown and as downtown LA gradually became gentrified.

Though many LA natives and residents knew the Belmont Tunnels as a place where there were often underground rave parties, day time soccer games, a refuge for the homeless and a graffiti yard, very few know the history of the tunnel itself.  Upon my research, I discovered that the tunnel used to be a subway tunnel that transported people from the Westlake Area to and from Downtown LA from the 1920s to the 1950s. One of the entrance/exit to the tunnels opened up at Beverly and Glendale Boulevard, while the other entrance/exit was located on 4th and Hill Street.  During WWII, circa 1944, about 65,000 passengers would ride this Hollywood subway on a daily basis.  The subway closed in 1955 after the expansion of the freeway system and rise of the automobile industry, which resulted in a decline in ridership. 

I do admit, I miss the Belmont Tunnel as a Los Angeles public art/graffiti landmark because that was what I knew it to be.  The pieces would change often and you would see regularly the new artists that would hit up the yard, with their styles and colors.  It was a historical place for LA graffiti and piece of LA hip hop culture.  I even recall the protest that took place against the closing of the yard/tunnel to the widespread redevelopment of the area that took place not too long after I took these pictures.  In knowing more about the history of this landmark, I do wish that the tunnel still existed and hope that the city finds other solutions to decrease the rise of Downtown LA congestion as it reoccurs in this modern age and time.

(If you’re a graffiti artist or an individual who has stories or experiences to share from this place, feel free to message me your memories and comments to this post.  I will admit that my knowledge of this place is limited, and I am definitely open to posting your messages on my blog for more people to learn about what the significance of this place was as a historical site and landmark in LA.)

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