Photos: Cruising Van Nuys Boulevard In The Summer Of '72

Photographer Rick McCloskey was born in Hollywood, but moved to Sherman Oaks in 1957—only a few feet from Van Nuys, and from Van Nuys Boulevard. His images of cruising Van Nuys Boulevard, shot during the summer of 1972, were featured in a one-man show at California State University Northridge the following year.

We're excited to share them four decades later, in conjunction with the publication of Los Angeles in the 1970s, a new essay collection from Rare Bird Books (we featured a few of Rick's photos back in 2014, but this is the motherlode).

And here's Rick's essay on that fateful summer, and the scene on Van Nuys Boulevard:

Cruise night was every Wednesday on Van Nuys Boulevard from the early 1950s through the 1970s. Gasoline was mighty cheap, new and old cars were surprisingly inexpensive as well. The San Fernando Valley was home to, what seemed like at the time, a million teenagers, and just about all of them spent many a wonderful evening endlessly cruising from one end of Van Nuys Boulevard to the other, and then back again.

Popular stops along the way were Bob’s Big Boy, June Ellen’s Donuts, A&W Root Beer, as well as many lesser known spots. “The Boulevard” was where you went to see and be seen, and to meet new friends, show off your ride, grab a milkshake or a ‘Double Burger,’ and just have an all-around great time.

The images in my photographic essay were made during the summer of 1972, almost ten years after my own high-school cruising days in the early 1960s. Cruising was such a terrific and pervasive past time of growing up in America during those years, it is difficult to imagine that the world has so changed, has moved on, and that cruising the boulevard, any boulevard, has all but vanished.

Have cool vintage photos of Los Angeles you want to share? Send them to us at tips@laist.com with “vintage photos” in the subject line.