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Photos: Cruising On Van Nuys Blvd. In The 1970s

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Richard McCloskey spent every Wednesday in the summer of 1972 shooting photographs of "Cruise Night" down Van Nuys Boulevard in Sherman Oaks.

He captured the sleek hot rods, the fashion, and the general youth in his black-and-white photos that preserve this memory.

Cruising was a popular part of the youth culture (especially among high school students) in the 1950s to 1960s. And when McCloskey was 26, he noticed a resurgence of this pastime in 1972, particularly when the worst days of the Vietnam War were over, he tells LAist. Van Nuys Boulevard was such a hotspot for driving aimlessly down the street, showing off cars, and doing donuts. It even inspired the 1979 film, Van Nuys Blvd.

You can see the trailer for the film here:

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At that time, McCloskey had recently completed his photography classes at CSUN, and his girlfriend who had been working at Corky's Restaurant on Van Nuys Boulevard told him that he needed to check out how wild the cruising scene was on that street. Cruise Nights would typically happen on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday nights. He decided to put his photography skills to good use.

The action would take place on Van Nuys Boulevard, from Ventura Boulevard at the south end up to Roscoe Boulevard at the north end, he says. The main stop was Bob's Big Boy Restaurant. McClosky said:

Bob's Restaurant had a large drive-In food service area in the back, and from the earliest days, there were long lines of cool cars full of young people waiting, both along Van Nuys Boulevard and on Clark Street, to get into Bob’s to park, get a burger, fries and a shake, and most importantly—to be seen!

He adds:

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At the southern end of Van Nuys Boulevard, June Ellen’s Donuts—at least the parking lot—was the "turn-around" spot for cruising. Most people stopped for at least a few minutes before resuming their cruise back north, certainly long enough to show off their ride, make some conversation. Many of my photos were shot in that parking lot in front of the wonderful glowing "June Ellen’s" sign.

More of his photos can be seen at Fine Art America, where he is selling prints of them.

[h/t LA Observed]