Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Afternoon Gridlock on Sierra Highway
Santa Clarita, California

Click image to enlarge

February 1988 — Afternoon rush-hour gridlock at 4:30 p.m. on Sierra Highway just south of Soledad Canyon Road, looking south.

The Park Sierra apartments are under construction in the Jake's Way / Canyon Park / Sandy Drive area of Canyon Country.

Throughout the 1980s, the Santa Clarita Valley experienced rapid residential growth as the County of Los Angeles approved several dense housing projects — e.g., the Jake's Way area of Canyon Country and Plum Canyon in Saugus — without providing adequate infrastructure, such as roads and parks. The lack of infrastructure, as experienced in the resulting "gridlock," was a principal reason residents voted in favor of forming their own city in November 1987.

The photographer, Gary Thornhill, presented this photograph and others to Councilman Carl Boyer III at one of the first meetings (actually about the sixth meeting) of the City Council in February 1988, two months after the city incorporated, to help the new council visualize and address the problem (see Boyer 2005:143).

Gary Thornhill About the photographer: Photojournalist Gary Thornhill chronicled the history of the Santa Clarita Valley as it unfolded in the 1970s, '80s and '90s. From car races in Saugus to fatal car wrecks in Valencia; from topless beauty contests in Canyon Country to fires and floods in the various canyons; from city formation in 1987 to the Northridge earthquake in 1994 — Thornhill's photographs were published in The Los Angeles Times, The Newhall Signal, The Santa Clarita Valley Citizen newspaper, California Highway Patrolman magazine and elsewhere. He penned the occasional breaking news story for Signal and Citizen editors Scott and Ruth Newhall under the pseudonym of Victor Valencia, and he was the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station's very first volunteer — and only the second in the entire LASD. Thornhill retained the rights to the images he created; in 2012, he donated his SCV photographs to two nonprofit organizations — SCVTV and the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society — so that his work might continue to educate and inform the public.

GT8802b: 19200 dpi jpeg from original photograph by Gary Thornhill.

Soledad Canyon Road 2/1988

Sierra Highway & Jake's Way 2/1988

Bouquet & Espuella 2/1988

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