Richard McCloskey’s images of Van Nuys Boulevard in the early 1970s, the cruising and the cars, is now for sale at Art Prints.
The photos show young people having a good time while hanging out, congregating on the street, and in the shopping center, which still stands next to Gelson’s on Van Nuys Boulevard.
Cruising, as Kevin Roderick in LA Observed explains, “began before World War II, spread across LA with the car culture of the 1950s and 60s, crested when the baby boomer hordes were at their most numerous and bored, and finally faded after the LAPD shut down the boulevard in the 1980s.”
The GM plant in Panorama City (1947-1991) built many of the cars that roamed the street. It paid its workers well, who in turn bought cars and produced children to drive them.
The cars were fueled by cheap gas (29-33 cents a gallon) which ended after the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo doubled the price of fuel and forced Americans to abandon wasteful muscle cars.
Once the cars were gone, the pretty girls and the gritty guys packed up and went away.
Van Nuys settled into its current state of illegality, drift and decline.