Driving along Jefferson Boulevard for the past couple of years between Overland Avenue and Duquesne Avenue on my way home I have been eagerly watching the progress of the new entrance to West Los Angeles College at, appropriately enough, College Boulevard. By the time it opened last year I had sprained my ankle and was not able to walk long distances. I’ve waited long enough for that ankle to heal, and as it doesn’t seem like it is ever going to, I decided to break out my cane and toddle on over there.
Before I moved into my current abode I lived at Lakeside Village which was a mere hop and a skip around the corner from the college. The campus is built on a hill and I often enjoyed an early morning sprint around the perimeter road. From where I live now the Overland entrance is more than a half hour walk with another half hour around the college, so I never made the effort. The new “back” entrance is a mere ten-minute trot up the street. It’s all about perception as by coming at the main part of the campus from this entrance I am actually walking the same distance. It just seems more pleasant walking inside the campus rather than on the street.
All the streets in Culver City are turned around. What you might think is north is actually more west and conversely, what appears to be south is easterly. If you were going to walk this route you would probably park somewhere along Jefferson Boulevard. For the sake of argument I am beginning this walk at the top of Duquesne Avenue. So you might as well walk north (west) a few yards to Ballona Creek. On the north (west) side you will see a beautifully designed iron-wrought gate beyond which is a painted and tiled mural entitled Rivers of the World. To the south (east) is a stainless steel sculpture, Crossed Currents, in the shape of a vase. In this blog I’m not going into detail over any artwork, merely listing what you can see. As you walk back towards Jefferson you will pass the City of Culver City Transportation and Purchasing building.
Culver City Park (and Bill Botts Field) is at the south (east) side of Jefferson and Duquesne. But that is another blog. Let’s walk west on the south (east) side of Jefferson past the grassy, tree-shaded picnic area. On the right hand side of the street are the studios of NPR (National Public Radio) West where many years ago I had the privilege of listening to a talk by Alex Chadwick, the host of the much-missed Day to Day.
On the south (east) side is the skateboard park built with taxpayer money to, presumably and unsuccessfully, keep skateboarders from destroying every other built object in town. Next is Storage Solutions designed to look like a mansion with a nice fountain in the well-landscaped front yard. (This is not a commercial but I did rent a storage unit there for a few months.)
And, finally, yes, we have arrived at the new Jefferson entrance to West Los Angeles College with an equally new planting of palm trees. Now, I love to see palm trees in Los Angeles and one day intend to write a blog on just that subject. But I know how expensive they are and that in some areas when they die out they are being replaced with other kinds of cheaper trees such as oaks. Just saying.
On Sundays there is a gate closing the road to traffic but intrepid walkers have no trouble passing through. Parts of Culver City, especially in the hilly areas, are still working oil fields. To the east you will see “pterodactyl” oil derricks. That is what they look like to me and probably pumping the same slimy stuff that was forming when those creatures roamed the earth.
I wasn’t timing it but I am guessing it is a good fifteen minute walk along College Boulevard to the east side of the main campus. I am not a horticulturist or even a gardener, so I don’t know the name of the plants bordering both sides of the sidewalk. To my uneducated eye they look like some kind of wild narcissus with long spiky leaves and tiny pale yellow flowers. A wall taller than me follows the sidewalk all along on the right hand side so there is no view of what may be lurking on the other side. Further down as the road curves around the wall opens up to a chain link fence and all that is visible behind it is dirt, grass and a small pond of muddy water.
All the way along on the left hand side is the hillside decorated with utility poles and more pterodactyls among the trees, bushes and grass. I didn’t see another soul on this part of the walk and I was wishing I didn’t waste so much of my life watching American and British TV murder mysteries.
At this point the main campus comes into view. Some aircraft used for aviation classes are parked. Turning left at the bottom of the road and proceeding up the hill on Sophomore Drive other people and dogs join in the walk. This is a popular spot for joggers, pooches walking their humans and cyclists who like the uphill struggle with a fast descent. In my cycling days this was a good workout.
There is a considerable amount of construction going on at the college. Several new buildings are on the schedule along with the refurbishing of existing structures. You can peek at some of this through the chain link fence. There is a LOT of chain link fence on this campus which makes it look more like a prison camp than a college.
At the top of the hill the road turns right. Here there are some arched utility poles that look like a huge art installation. Walking down the hill there used to be a beautiful view of the city and ocean but now, after complaints from residents about the construction noise and dust, there is baffling all the way down blocking the view. The construction is supposed to be completed by 2013 so I will just have to grit my teeth and wait like everybody else. However, it is still a nice walk looking at the campus on the right hand side.
At the bottom of the hill the choice is to turn left and exit the campus on to Overland Avenue or turn right and walk along Freshman Drive. On the left hand side of Freshman normally there is a view of the backside of the condo complexes Lakeside Villas, Lakeside Village, Tara Hills and Raintree built in the 1970s on land that was once the MGM lot. But currently there is more of the ugly baffling. On the right is the baseball field, some parking areas and the football field. Another right turn onto Sophomore leads back to College Boulevard and the walk back to Jefferson and home (for me, anyway!).
A very rough estimate of this round trip walk is approximately three miles. A map of the West Los Angeles College campus can be found at http://www.wlac.edu/wlac2phone/employees/ShowEmployeesmap.aspx and an area map at http://www.wlac.edu/mapdirectory/maps_directions.html
(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)