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Arts and Entertainment

The 'Hollywood Heart' Of The 101 Freeway Is Super Red And Lovely This Month

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Commuters on the 101 Freeway may have noticed a colorful anomaly along the northbound lanes right after the Gower Street exit; there's a giant, heart-shaped bloom hanging off the side of a retaining wall.

The photo above was shot a couple weeks ago by artist Moses Hacmon, who said that this wasn't his first encounter with the heart. "I always see this heart on the highway and I felt that no one believes me when I tell them about it," Hacmon told LAist in an email. "I have been seeing it for years. I really think that using a cell phone while driving is wrong and dangerous. Since finally I was stuck in traffic at the right spot, I quickly snapped this set."

As Hacmon mentioned, this floral aberration has been there for some years. According to The Los Angeles Daily News, the plant—dubbed the "Hollywood Heart" by some—is actually comprised of two magenta bougainvillea bushes (they're not really flowers, by the way), whose vines have taken the shape of a emoji heart.

What's truly curious is that, while those bushes have been there for some time, it wasn't until 2014 that it started to resemble the symbol of love (and lust?). As you can see in the following pictures, the bushes were of a fairly amorphous shape in 2011. By 2014, however, it had taken on the unmistakable body of a heart:

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Frank McDonough, a botanist with the L.A. County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, told the Daily News that the patch "definitely looks trimmed." Then, in a later Daily News article in 2016, artist Corinne Carrey stepped out to claim the heart as hers.

Carrey wrote to LAist to say that, before the heart was formed, she was living in Indonesia for four years. "Each holiday I returned and saw this bush with the natural V at the bottom that could have been trimmed into a perfect heart," said Carrey. "After a few years I was shocked that in such a creative city no one had seen this too." When she returned to L.A., she passed by the spot regularly, as she was driving back and forth between her home in South Central, her mother's house in Thousand Oaks, and her workplace in downtown L.A. At some point she decided to jump on the cool idea that was fomenting in her head.

"I took it upon myself to trim and maintain this heart," said Carrey.

While the heart has been around for a little while, it's especially red and captivating this time of the year, as flora has been blooming like crazy. It's there for you to admire as you trudge your way up north, though we advise that you refrain from Instagramming if the traffic is moving along.

An earlier version of this article cited a Daily News article that said that Carrey had formed the heart after moving in with her parents in Thousand Oaks upon leaving Indonesia. Carrey wrote LAist to say that that was inaccurate.

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