Cruising on Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles has been a ritual and rite of passage since the 1940s. Since that time, the “Boulevard” was the place to be seen, especially if you were a part of the many Lowrider car clubs that made the famous route part of their weekend activities. Whittier itself was not the only draw, many of the larger car clubs would park at the same parking lots when they were not going up and down the “Boulevard,” as they would take the opportunity to socialize with each other as well as with the opposite sex. Traffic was at a standstill most weekend nights and navigating through the area was troublesome for the residents that lived off of “the Boulevard.” Eventually, the authorities would shut down the cruising on Whittier Boulevard for good in the late 1990s.
In early 2012, Shayan Salinas from Distinctions car club, and Jay Gomez from Solows car club, decided to organize a cruise on Whittier Boulevard. The idea was to meet at another popular cruise spot in Los Angeles, Elysian Park, and then cruise down Whittier Boulevard and end the day at the Vineland Drive-In, located in the City of Industry. The duo reached out to the Lowriding community via the Internet and the car show and cruise nights in the Southern California area.
The momentum of the upcoming event grew at a rapid pace. Car clubs and solo riders reminisced about the good old days on the “Boulevard,” as anticipation grew for the day of the event to arrive. The day finally came on Sunday, March 4th, 2012.
We arrived at Elysian Park around 1pm and the park was already at capacity with individuals and cars, it seemed as if it had been transformed into a sea of people and cars everywhere. A number of the larger car clubs had been at the park all morning barbequing and enjoying each other’s company. As we walked the park, we saw a number of familiar faces and car club plaques. Majestics, Stylistics, Good Times, USO, Bomb Club Originals, Millennium, High Class, Solows and Kilique and Distinction car clubs were some of the clubs at the park ready to hit the “Boulevard.”
Once the designated time to head to the “Boulevard” arrived, everyone jumped in their rides and made their way to the start of the “Boulevard” in Boyle Heights. From the intersection of Whittier and Soto, the cars cruised all the way into East LA and passed under the famous “Whittier Boulevard” sign and into the heart of East LA. The “Boulevard” was certainly a sight to be witnessed, thanks to this cruise. It gave the younger generation a glimpse into the old days, as car clubs and solo riders were parked along the “Boulevard” and in the parking lots and shopping centers along Whittier. It felt like we had travelled back in time to the heydays of cruising the “Boulevard.”
As we made our way into the City of Montebello, the parking lots and shopping centers were also packed with car clubs and solo riders. Montebello Park hosted a number of car clubs as well. Every available space was occupied and as the sun started to set, it was clear that Montebello took over as the epicenter of the miles of Lowriders. Just as it was in the heyday of cruising, the sidewalk facing Whittier Boulevard at the park was full of people taking in the sights and sounds of this caravan of cars. Even after darkness fell, the cruising continued on into the late hours.
Some of the individuals that started their day at Elysian Park did not end their day on the “Boulevard.” Instead, they continued from Whittier Boulevard onto the 605 Freeway and headed North to the City of Industry, where one of the last remaining Drive-In movie theaters is located. Drive-In movie theaters are fading and becoming a thing of the past as more and more people view movies in traditional theaters and online, but on this night, the theater was packed to capacity just like the “Boulevard” was in its heyday. There is no doubt that many of those who participated in the day’s events went home and went to sleep “Drifting on a Memory.”
Given the event’s success, cruise organizers were already in the planning stages for a second event, slated to take place in May 2012. We here at Lowrider Magazine wish them success and have no doubt it will be as successful as the inaugural caravan. Keep it low and slow when you are on the "Boulevard!"