Monday, November 30, 2009

ocean avenue + santa monica boulevard, santa monica

Santa Monica is one of those rare places in the world in that it's an urban haven situated right on the beach. Well, not right on the beach: just to get to the bluffs overlooking the shore one has to cross seven lanes of asphalt. (Getting to the beach itself involves a trek across the freeway-in-disguise known as PCH, but that's another story.) Grabbing that sunset photo could be so much easier and more spontaneous if Ocean Avenue were only, say, two lanes wide. Our beloved tourist friends could hop out of the restaurant, snap a pic, and hop back--what could be more fun? Show it narrowed!
Diptych prints available

Sunday, November 29, 2009

respect: cicLAvia

There's a spiffy article at LA Times covering the nascent effort to bring "cicLAvias" to Los Angeles, a concept inspired by Bogota, Colombia's ciclovias in which streets are closed on Sundays + holidays to allow cyclists, skaters, joggers, and pedestrians to roam stress-free. There are plenty of snapshots of the real thing happening all over the world, but for now we Angelenos have dreamy what-if photo-collages to gaze upon, like the artist's rendering of a ciclovia on Sunset Blvd. above. It goes without saying that we at NSLA love visualizations. Check out even more visualizations (by Colleen Corcoran) at the official blog!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

melrose avenue + la brea boulevard, hollywood

Imagine you're in line at the world-famous Pink's Hot Dogs in Hollywood, and you realize you don't have any cash. You have two choices: risk life + limb jaywalking across La Brea's seven lanes to reach the supermarket ATM across the street, or detour to the intersection at the end of the block--adding up to a quarter-mile to your cash run. A skinnier street would give you the third option: hop through a gap in the slowed traffic, get your cash, and hop back. Imagine dozens of people doing the same thing, and you've got yourself a party! See it narrowed!
Diptych prints available

Monday, November 23, 2009

sunset boulevard + clark street, west hollywood

West Hollywood's glitzy, glammed-up, & oversexed stretch of Sunset, with its iconic rock clubs + tattoo parlors, can actually be a treacherous place to walk despite its fame. Cars careen around the boulevard's curves. Local residents drive-bomb down the hills with white-knuckle speed to avoid its notoriously long traffic signals--one car tragically killed a motorcyclist when I used to work nearby. Fewer lanes would bring it closer to the scale of Boston's Landsdowne St., New York City's West 27th St., and other "club rows" by slowing traffic down, allowing for shorter light cycles, and thus enabling pedestrians to spend less time looking over their shoulders at intersections and more time making Sunset an even crazier place to par-tay. See it narrowed!

Friday, November 20, 2009

respect: "los angeles without traffic"

A kindred spirit! Photographer Tom Baker re-imagines the streets of Los Angeles by stripping out cars--all of them. At a glance you can see just how much space + asphalt are reserved for the endless automotive rivers coursing through LA's arteries. Beautiful, inspiring work. Via Inhabitat. Oh, and happy weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

la cienega boulevard + 3rd street, mid-wilshire

When seen against La Cienega's original width, the Beverly Center Mall (on the left) looks like a colossal, squat block, as if someone took a typical "big box" store and scaled it up through sheer brute force and with no regard for proportion. Upon narrowing this mighty boulevard, however, the entire mall starts to feel taller + more skyscraper-like--which is how an eight-story structure should feel. It also gives this shopping street a wonderful, almost Tokyo-like density that practically invites pedestrians to jaywalk + store hop. Street, be narrowed!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

where my single-car commuters at?

This snapshot of single-car vs. public transport commuting across the U.S. illustrates a dominance of car travel in Los Angeles as compared to, say, New York City--that's no surprise. What's more interesting is how LA's data point is snuggled up close with places like Milwaukee, Portland, San Jose, and Memphis. For me, this shows that while LA may think it's a big city, it acts more like the very suburbs it tends to ridicule (e.g. its false rivalry with neighboring Orange County). When it comes to walking the walk, Angelenos may have more in common with folks in Oklahoma City than they realize. (via Shareable)

Monday, November 16, 2009

century park east, century city

The optimistically-named Century City has always felt to me like a Ballardian complex of futuristic ruins preserved intact, all gleaming skyscrapers and acres of asphalt devoid not only of foot traffic but even street parking, too--talk about utopian! As a result, this "city" has a stark, artificial beauty to it that quickly becomes tinged with menace after nightfall. Narrowing things brings the atmosphere closer to that of a Manhattan-cum-palm-trees, but the fact remains that Century City can never escape its true architectural roots: the suburban business park. Strip out those traffic lanes!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1st street, japantown

Despite its current revitalization, Japantown still feels like your typical suburb: wide lanes, excessive parking, and sparse foot traffic. It's ironic that all of the hallmarks of its namesake are absent: public transportation culture, street vendors, crowds, and of course, narrow streets. Cutting out all that asphalt fat makes for a much cozier scene, bringing the neighborhood much closer to Christopher Alexander's "Quality Without A Name." See the QWAN for yourself!

Monday, November 9, 2009

montana avenue, santa monica

My first narrowed photo. People often call this tony avenue in Santa Monica "cute"--but one day, I looked carefully to realize that it stretches up to six cars wide at points. Despite being so wide, straight, and otherwise built for speed, traffic crawls along at 25 MPH due to looky-loos or parking hunters. Honking punctuates the air, creating a paradoxical scene that looks laid-back but actually feels quite tense. But what if it were half the width? And had half the cars? Now we're talking cute! Show it narrowed!

Friday, November 6, 2009

welcome to narrow streets los angeles!

An occasional record of one of my obsessive hobbies: taking photographs of Los Angeles' famously wide streets and reducing them down to tiny streets, each designed to provoke thought about sprawl, urban planning, and human scale neighborhoods. Comments & questions are more than welcome!

Enjoy :)
David Yoon

About the Photographer

Los Angeles, CA, United States
Writer, designer, and urban planning geek.

Got a location idea or photo submission? Send it to I'll post it to the blog or even run out to shoot it myself.


Other sites by David Yoon
Personal site

Kindred Spirits
Tom Baker, LA Without Cars
James Howard Kunstler

Nicola Yoon Design
SIFT Angeles


All content © David Yoon and Narrow Streets: Los Angeles.