Broadway to Freeway: Life and Times of a Vibrant Community 2022

April 1 – December 23

In the mid-20th century, the Broadway neighborhood was a thriving, tight-knit community in Santa Monica. Built by African American, Mexican American, and immigrant communities, the Broadway neighborhood was a haven for those who were excluded from other parts of the city by racist and anti-immigrant policies and practices.

This exhibition tells the story of how residents built Broadway into a flourishing community of color – and how the Interstate 10 freeway destroyed it in the 1960s. The vibrant lives of pioneering individuals – like the first African American teacher and social worker hired in Santa Monica – are knitted into the neighborhood they built together. The community populated Broadway with welcoming schools, homes, and businesses – from beauty parlors and jazz clubs, to the malt shop, tortilleria, and Jewish deli.

Featuring period photographs, advertisements, oral histories, and songs, the exhibition draws on the wealth of archival material collected by the Quinn Research Center, which is dedicated to preserving the history of African American life in Santa Monica.

Through exhibitions like these, we acknowledge the legacy of history and inform people about its ongoing impact. The rare images and objects in the exhibition illustrate how Broadway’s former residents created a thriving community in the face of structural racism. These stories are ones every Santa Monican should know.

— Sara Crown, Curator

Today, little evidence remains of the community on the blocks between 13th Street and 20th Street, once the heart of the Broadway neighborhood. Though physically erased, Broadway lives on in the stories that are preserved and shared to illuminate past inequities and spotlight the inspirational individuals who created a center of social and civic life on their own terms.

The museum is located adjacent to the Santa Monica Public Library at 1350 7th Street. Call 310.395.2290 or write


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