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December 6, 2022

Cars and Cruising: 32 Fascinating Black and White Photos of Van Nuys Boulevard in 1972

Van Nuys Boulevard is a major north-south arterial road that runs through the central San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County, California. 

With its wide expanse through the heart of the San Fernando Valley, Van Nuys Boulevard became known from the 1950s through the 1970s as a center of teenage cruising. Its car culture was celebrated in several motion pictures, including Van Nuys Boulevard (1979). Cruising became a thing of the past as police cracked down on the practice, but the car culture still lives on through the numerous automobile dealerships that line both sides of Van Nuys Boulevard in northern Sherman Oaks and southern Van Nuys.

In the summer of 1972, 26-year-old Rick McCloskey, a San Fernando valley native, was photographing life on SoCal’s Van Nuys Boulevard, looking on and documenting young people hanging out and cruising in cars. “Every town in America had a strip where kids would take their cars and go hang out whether it was only a block long – big towns, little towns, cities. It was really a thing for everybody to be involved at some point,” said McCloskey.

Take a look back at the vanished Californian youth culture through 32 fascinating black and white photos taken by McCloskey:


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