Location #53:

  The Freeway Offramp

Q.  Where is it supposed to be?

The script tells us that they are on the Hollywood (101) Freeway,
about to bail out, probably at the Santa Monica Blvd exit.

This exact freeway spot is seen twice in the last few minutes of "La La Land", first in the movie's 'real' world, and later repeated ( with a different leading man ) in a fantasy musical montage of what might have been:

First, as part of that "Five Years Later" scenario, we see Mia and her new husband ('David') sitting in a car, stuck in a freeway traffic jam.  They are already late to some event
( a movie... a play? ) apparently involving a friend named Natalie.

He asks "What will we tell Natalie?" ( if they miss the event ), and Mia responds that they can "just see it back in New York" ( which tells me that they either normally live in New York, or spend a lot of time there. )

It gets later, and the traffic isn't moving.  Since they are near a freeway offramp, Mia  asks if David wants to just get off here and have dinner.

He agrees.  So he pulls off the freeway, up an offramp... and wind up at Seb's.

1:57:28:  10 minutes later, during the final ( epilogue ) fantasy musical montage, we are shown an identical repeat of this exact same freeway offramp scene, with Mia and her spouse stuck in the same traffic jam, only this time with Seb in the car as Mia's fantasy husband, instead of David. 

They too give up on the standstill traffic and take the same offramp.

( And they too wind up at Seb's. )

Where was it really shot?

The script tells us that this is supposed to be the Hollywood Freeway.

But it's not.

Surprisingly, we are not even actually on a freeway.  ( But it's close. )

Instead, we are a block and a half EAST of the Harbor (110) Freeway, on its
4th Street offramp
, heading east/southeast on W. 4th Street, between
 S. Figueroa Street & S. Flower Street, in downtown Los Angeles.

At the spot where they are first stalled, they are right next to ( north of ) the Bonaventure Hotel.
The parking structure that  you see to the right of the offramp that they take belongs to the downtown YMCA, at 401 S Hope Street,

So why does a normal street look so much like a freeway?

Because Bunker Hill makes this corner of downtown L.A. uneven - higher to the west and lower to the south.  (It's why they invented Angels Flight to go up the hill.)

So this stretch of W. 4th Street wound up as a sunken, confusing mess, with other (N/S) cross-streets passing above it like bridges, so they use freeway-like offramps to take drivers up to those other surface streets ( such as Hope and Flower. )

( How confusing is it?  There are actually three different roadways on the Google map at this point, all  labeled as "W. 4th Street". )

In the real world, if you took this particular side-exit/offramp from 4th Street ( the one taken by Mia ), it would take you up from the sunken 4th Street to the street-level S. Hope Street, ending up at the base of the Chase Bank building, at 400 S. Hope, and giving you the option to turn left or right on Hope.

But if you don't turn on Hope, and continue straight ahead on the offramp, you'll head right back down to W. 4th Street. The street stays below ground-level as it heads east, passing under Grand Avenue, before finally ending up at ground level as it reaches Olive Street.

Confusing enough?  Let's try to make it simpler...

Here are matching StreetViews of those offramp views:

To make it even clearer, here's a downtown map
with the path of their car marked in red:

( Click on the map to see the Google Maps version. )

In the real world, this downtown spot is about six miles southeast of the exterior Seb's,
and about 25 miles northwest of the interior of Seb's.

In other words, in real life, they're nowhere near either Seb's.

The offramp where they get off in downtown is only a few blocks from both Grand Central Market and Angels Flight, both seen earlier in the movie.

I suppose its somewhat fitting that a movie that begins with a freeway traffic jam as its first location should end with its final ( new ) location being another freeway traffic jam.

( Yes, I know we see several locations after this one, but they are all locations that we've seen before, such as Seb's. This is the last new location introduced in the movie. )
Only this time, unlike the first freeway traffic jam, nobody's dancing, as the film takes a definitely dark turn, in which harsh reality intrudes into the romantic musical-fantasy that was presented in the film's first half.

But before that, we get one last touch of musical fantasy, as Mia imagines what life would have been like if she and Sebastian had stayed together.

That will be the final page of this La La Land project.

Here is a link to a Google Earth 3-D view of the street.


Move on to the next movie location seen in "La La Land".


"La La Land" and its images are copyright Summit Entertainment
The rest of this page is copyright © 2017-Gary Wayne - All Rights Reserved

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