08 September 2007

Three Cool Things In Burbank, CA

I'm in Burbank, California on business and couldn't resist seeking out some items which I would've tried to collect had I been in the saddle. And there are certainly many other interesting attractions in the San Fernando Valley, but the following items made me smile.

First, the Chandler Boulevard Bikeway:

This two-lane concrete cycling roadway runs down the median strip of Chandler Blvd and is so (rightfully) beloved that city planners have added a bronze statue of a family of bike riders -- the little girl, by the way, is riding with her hands in the air, and the adult in the scene appears to be smacking her right hand:

The bikeway, however, used to be the historic Burbank Railroad which bisected the former ranch lands of the Valley.

The above photo was taken just a block beyond the eastern end of the bikeway where the railroad tracks remain intact, though unused. Another relic of a time before the car culture.

Second, one of the few publicly displayed F-104 Starfighter jets from Lockheed's secretive Skunk Works facility:

From The Valley Observed:

Burbank Airport was home to Lockheed's secret Skunk Works, where the U2 spy plane and other war birds were hatched. Residents in the 1950s and '60s had to put up with sonic booms that shattered windows ands frazzled nerves, the product of test flights. Read more here.

The Starfighter was first tested here in Burbank in 1954 and was used by the military between 1958 and 1967.

And finally, my perpetual LA motel of choice:

The Safari Inn is my definition of a classic American motel. The '50s era theme and signpost. The breezeway check-in area with the cement deck above. The pool. The outdoor walkway on the second floor. The Safari was also used as a location in True Romance -- the hotel in which James Gandolfini brutally assaults Patricia Arquette. Fortunately, the interiors of the rooms are very different now. No bloody mirrors and no mosquito nets (I'm fairly certain a different location was used for the interior scenes of the movie, but the exterior shots are all Safari).

I could spend an entire week here photographing classic motels. They're living monuments to mid-20th Century America, and, in my opinion, are historic locations, worthy of preservation. More on this in later road tours, but they're truly one of my obsessions.

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