Getting schooled in the Pass

January 15, 2013 

The 405 Freeway through the Sepulveda Pass, shortly after the Mulholland Bridge opened in 1960. Photo/Metro

Pop quiz, kids. Grab your No. 2 pencil and turn your attention to one of the 405 Freeway’s most fabled stretches. The Sepulveda Pass is:

a)    A crucial thoroughfare between the Westside and the San Fernando Valley

b)    Part of a long-running $1 billion-plus construction project

c)    The hill L.A. commuters love to hate

You don’t have to be a drive-time traffic reporter to know that the answer is “all of the above.” But if all you know about the Sepulveda Pass is what you’ve seen through your car’s windshield, an upcoming course at the Skirball Cultural Center aims to unspool the mysteries—historic, geographic, and cultural—behind an essential piece of the Los Angeles landscape.

“The Sepulveda Pass: From Creation to Carmageddon” will be held on four Sunday afternoons beginning February 10. The instructor is Erik Greenberg, director of education at the Autry National Center, who aims to take students on a tour of the Pass from its geologic beginnings through centuries of human history, including its emergence as an important center of Jewish life in Los Angeles as home to institutions including the American Jewish University, Stephen S. Wise Temple and the Skirball.

“The Pass plays an important role in the lives of lots and lots of people,” said Greenberg, pointing out that the stretch has been called “L.A.’s Brooklyn Bridge—dividing people and uniting people.”

Adele Lander Burke, vice president of the Skirball’s “Learning for Life” adult education program, said it was high time to explore the Pass.

“I think it’s on people’s minds a lot,” she said. “We lived through two Carmageddons and did quite well…also, it’s on Sundays. There’s no construction going on during the weekend, so it’s very easy access.”

The four-session class costs $60 for Skirball members, $75 for non-members. Bragging rights for your next commuting gripe session: priceless.

Over the years, the Sepulveda Pass has become a center of L.A. Jewish life. Photo/Emma Greenberg

Posted 1/15/12

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