the main drag: photographs from the san gabriel valley

  • Dentistry Office, Valley Blvd, Alhambra
  • Three Bungalows, Valley Blvd, Alhambra
  • Red Finial, Valley Blvd, Alhambra
  • Side Door, Church, Badillo St, Covina
  • Clippinger Intersection, Citrus Ave, Covina
  • Greek Revival Bank Building, Marengo Ave, Pasadena
  • Staircase, Train Station, Pomona
  • Store Window, Antiques Row, Pomona
  • Glass Door, 2nd St, Downtown Pomona
  • Painted Window, Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel
  • Bank, Historic Route 66, Arcadia
  • Double Staircase, Apartments, Claremont



Although it’s almost as large in area and population, and is as socially and ethnically diverse as the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel is something of an enigma beyond its own borders.  It’s known to many as a region to drive through on the way to the Inland Empire and Las Vegas, not so much as a destination.  Vestiges of one of the great main drags of all time, Route 66, still exist in the Valley.

Most of the 40+ towns of which its comprised has at least one primary thoroughfare that at one time featured most of the necessary commercial enterprises.  Banks, gas stations, restaurants, barber shops, clothes stores, car dealerships, general emporiums and professional buildings were duplicated in each of the Valley’s towns, much as they had been in small towns across the country.

Beginning in the 1960s and 70s malls and strip shopping centers supplanted the main drags, many of which fell into disrepair, long-term vacancy, and outright abandonment.  Some have bounced back, recognizing a resurgent interest in all things nostalgic, while others continue to deteriorate.  Yet others have been rejuvenated by the influx of people with means from foreign cultures that have chosen to settle in specific areas, thus ensuring a level of patronage capable of sustaining small special interest businesses.  Each generation develops its own interests and habits, though, and nothing that currently enjoys popularity will be guaranteed success into the future.

My intention with this series is to capture some essence of what makes this area of Los Angeles unique as it exists now, without imposing the onus of formal documentation on the endeavor.  My work is deliberately subjective.