Friday, January 17, 2014

Did You Know This About Olympic Blvd?

LOS ANGELES - One of Los Angeles' major, and perhaps not quite as iconic, roadways is Olympic Boulevard, which is a heavily traveled East-to-West, or depending on your view, West-to-East arterial.

What some people may not know is that Olympic Blvd. is longer than the more famous Wilshire Blvd. as it stretches from Santa Monica all the way across the city to East Los Angeles into Montebello.

There is more to the story of the boulevard, and what a lot of people may not know is, like many other streets in L.A., Olympic Blvd. was not always called Olympic Blvd. In fact, it was once called Tenth Street.

So how and why did Tenth Street become Olympic Blvd.?

In 1932 L.A. was selected to host what would be the Games of the X Olympiad, or rather, the Tenth Modern Olympics. To honor the occasion the L.A. City Council voted to change the name of Tenth Street to Olympic Blvd (See what they did there?).

As you may know these days a city bidding to host the Olympics is a major competitive event in and of itself with a lot of wooing and impressing International Olympic Committee officials. Of course, and here is something else you may not know, L.A. did not have a lot of competition in bidding to host the Tenth Modern Olympiad. By not having a lot of competition that is to say L.A. had no competition in bidding to host the games, because L.A. was the only city to bid to host the games.

Why was L.A. the only city to bid for the games? Well, when the selection was made at the 23rd IOC Session in Rome, Italy, in 1923 it was on the heels of the end of a major world war and a lot of countries were broke and tired.

It did not help matters that by the time the 1932 Olympics came to the City of Angels the Great Depression was fully underway. 

The depression was so bad that many nations and athletes just simply could not afford the trip to L.A. to compete in the 1932 Olympics. 

With the Depressing going on these Olympics were not even consider important to President Herbert Hoover, because he did not make the journey to L.A. to see the games. Mr. Hoover would be the second U.S. president to miss the Olympics in the United States held during his term behind President Theodore Roosevelt who refused to attend the 1904 Summer Olympics held in St. Louis, because St. Louis Mayor David R. Francis declined to let Roosevelt help officiate the games.

As another interesting side-note, Olympic Blvd. was once a highway of sorts, California State Route 26.

So now, when you are stuck in traffic at Olympic Blvd. and San Vicente Blvd., you know how Olympic Blvd. obtained its name and you know a unique bit of the history of the modern Olympics.

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