August 22, 2009

tunnel visionary

You may not know it, but you've seen this tunnel. The Second Street tunnel in downtown LA is one of the city's most seen, but possibly least known landmarks. It's been in everything from Blade Runner to The Soloist, but its most widely seen in car commercials. According to the Los Angeles Times' Dan Neil, its been in more than 73 car commercials in just the last three years. What makes the tunnel so desirable is that its entire length is lined with shiny white tiles that reflect light well, making it endlessly versatile, especially if you add various lighting and special effects. But the tiles almost didn't come to be. During the tunnel's construction from 1916 to 1924, objections were raised that the tile was German, and the design was almost scrapped. Eventually the contractor won out, and the results still shine grittily today in ways he probably never would have imagined.

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