Public Art tells the Story of Transportation

Located right across the street from Inglewood High School is a important and dynamic mosaic mural with a long history.

It was completed in 1940 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Project Administration (WPA) Arts project, The History of Transportation mural, which starts out with wagon wheels and ends with airplanes, was designed by a California artist, Helen Lundeberg.

The length of The History of Transportation Mural, spans 240 feet; each one of its 60 panels is 8 feet high; and this particular mural is one of the last remaining outdoor artworks that incorporates the petrachrome process–which was created by Stanton McDonald-Wright, another California artist who headed the Southern California WPA.

Utilizing the petrachrome mosaic technique, white concrete is colored by oxides or colorful ground up stones. The zones of color are comprised of variously sized crushed rock aggregates imbedded in tinted mortar. The color and textured varied by choices of aggregates, their sizes, and the proportion of aggregate to mortar and mortar color. Color zones are sharply differentiated by using brass strips as borders. Source: The Petrachrome Process (PDF)

According to historical profile specialists from,for many years, the mural resided at the southeast corner of Centinela Park at the intersection of Florence and Redondo. And even though the petrachrome process was designed to withstand the Southern California sun and heat, over the years, the mural:

had been hit on the front by speeding cars, smacked on the back by forklifts moving caskets at the adjacent Enderle Vault Co. and cracked along vertical lines by rebar pulling away from the concrete backing. Weather and pollution also had taken a toll, but the most intractable and unsightly problem was perpetrated by gang members who had buried Lundeberg’s art in layer upon layer of graffiti, effectively turning the historic mural into a billboard for their violent subculture. Source: LATimes

The above photo, courtesy of the Inglewood Public Library via the Online Archive of California shows the mural circa 1990. After nearly a decade of work, headed by a citizens’ group, and supported by city officials and financed by over $1,000,000 in grants, the mural was ready for its restoration.

In 2002, the restoration project was started. Carefully packaging the over 500lb. panels, the total restoration process along with creating a new home for the mural took over 5 years.

If you’d like to know more about the restoration process, here’s a great article (PDF).

On August 11th, 2007, the Dedication and Unveiling of the newly restored History of Transportation mural in Grevillea Art Park was celebrated by both the local community and the city of Los Angeles.

When visiting, there’s 7 plaques that provide additional information about the mural, it’s history, and subsequent restoration.

When people get together for a common cause–especially one for the arts–anything is possible and The History of Transportation Mural in Inglewood is another example of why and how that works.

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