Closing Hollywood Blvd. for The Force Awakens Barely Borked LA Roads
For the three days surrounding the world premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 14, limos, red carpets, and massive generators took over from the usual cars-and-trucks-and-things-that-go on five blocks of Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. That meant that a big chunk of a major east-west thoroughfare, and a couple neighboring blocks that normally serve car-centric Angeleños, were suddenly off-limits.
In nearly any other city, such a closure would be a major disruption. But not Tinseltown. In Hollywood—a place where, let’s be honest, you never know when people filming the city are going to bring some chunk of the real city to a grinding halt—the Star Wars premiere was merely another cinematic disruption. “They do this week in and week out,” says Bruce Gillman, spokesperson for the city’s Department of Transportation. Premieres at iconic movie palaces like the Chinese close the neighborhood to traffic with some regularity.
That doesn’t mean it was an easy week. The Star Wars event shut down the entire stretch for three full days rather than just an evening. And since the movie was shown at three separate theaters—the Dolby, the Chinese, and El Capitan—three blocks of Hollywood Boulevard were closed along with a block of North Orange Drive on either side. Six traffic officers helped direct drivers around the closures, but you can only do so much you can do when a major boulevard is closed for that long.
On this map, built from user data we got from the directional app Waze, you can see the living pulse of the city, with streets and the curve of the 101 freeway lighting up cyclically, morning and night. But as the day of the premiere gets nearer, Hollywood Boulevard and its feeder streets do seem to get a little worse—including a big pulse in the middle of the night prior to the show. Overall, though, traffic seems to flow as freely as it ever does in LA. Which, sadly, is not saying very much.