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Have a Cold War Picnic

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by Kevin McCollister

A very accessible relic of the Cold War is to be found at the western end of Mulholland Drive. In 1954 the government considered the San Vicente Mountain, at an altitude of nearly 2,000 feet and with views in every direction, to be the perfect location for a radar site and observation post. If an enemy missile was spotted, a NIKE missile would have been launched from the Sepulveda Basin to knock it out of the sky. Back in the day, Los Angeles was worthy of sixteen such sites.

Now controlled by the Santa Monica Conservancy, both the observation deck and radar tower still stand and you're free to climb the deck and to picnic on the grounds, which retain their militaristic vibe. But look to the west and see Santa Monica Bay and beyond. Looking east, there's Los Angeles' cluster of skyscrapers. It's also a gateway to the Conservancy's much larger range of parks that stretch nearly to the Pacific.

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The facility stayed in operation until 1968 when rocket technology made observation decks a sick joke.

Its about three miles west of the 405, open everyday from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

kevin blogs at