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The sign near Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue that welcomes people to the Miracle Mile is no more, after a single-vehicle car collision destroyed the sign on Monday.
However, officials with the Miracle Mile Civic Coalition, which championed the effort to have the sign installed, are hopeful that the driver’s insurance covers the cost of the repairs. Coalition president and founder Lyn Cohen said the sign cost approximately $10,000.
“It is a big bummer, but [that’s] life,” she said.
According to police, the sign was struck after a woman driving a GMC Envoy lost control of her SUV while turning east onto Wilshire Boulevard from Fairfax Avenue. Officers said the roadway was wet from rain at the time. Drugs and alcohol were not a factor, and the driver was uninjured, police said.
Monday’s collision was not the first time a Miracle Mile sign has been damaged. In fact, an identical sign on Wilshire Boulevard near La Brea Avenue has been missing since approximately 2008, Cohen said. She said the sign was struck by an automobile in 2005, and after three years of work to get it replaced, it was struck again in 2008, approximately three months after being erected again.
“That was a saga in itself,” Cohen said.
The signs were replicas of Miracle Mile markers that were placed on area sidewalks in the 1930s or ‘40s, she said. At some point, the original signs were removed, but a beautification project brought them back to life.
In 1990, the coalition initiated its Wilshire Boulevard Beautification and Advocacy project, and later proposed a sidewalk maintenance assessment to landscape, redesign and permanently maintain the Miracle Mile’s mile-long median on Wilshire Boulevard, Cohen said.
She said it took four or five years for “anyone to pay attention” to the efforts to beautify Wilshire Boulevard, but Los Angeles County officials eventually wrote a check for $100,000. Cohen said the county had a vested interest in the area due to the county museums that call the Miracle Mile home.
“That made it a reality,” she added.
To provide permanent funding for the project, the sidewalk maintenance assessment passed with 82 percent of property owners approving, Cohen said. She said the assessment provides approximately $134,000 to the city annually to beautify Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile.
In the 1990s, the boulevard looked rough, Cohen said. The thoroughfare had gaping holes of dirt, and there was no “unification of any kind of plant materials,” she said. The coalition called the effort “the greening of the Miracle Mile.”
From Sycamore to Fairfax avenues, city workers cleaned up the median and boulevard, planting trees and flowers and installing lighting and irrigation systems, she said. Coalition officials had seen pictures of the old Miracle Mile signs, so they had replicas made, Cohen said.
“Of course, the signs were like the cherries on the sundaes,” she added.
The signs lit up at night, though the sign near La Brea “was a little erratic,” Cohen said. However, they were beloved by some residents and served as a gateway to the historic Miracle Mile.
“It was very important to create a sense of place … to really start reinvigorating the vitality [of the Miracle Mile],” she said.
Adam Lev, a coalition board member, agreed.
“The signs are, without question, a historic part of the Miracle Mile,” he said.
Now, both signs are out of commission. In the two incidents involving the sign near La Brea Avenue, the motorists were able to continue driving, so it is unknown who struck the sign, she said.
“We really tried hard. …No one could find out what happened,” Cohen added.
After the incident in 2005, the office of Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, helped get the sign near La Brea Avenue replaced, as did some area corporations, she said.
LaBonge and his office are looking to help the cause again, as the councilman is trying to find a permanent solution to keep the signs out of harm’s way. He suggested placing the signs on the sidewalk — just as they were in the past.
“We have to rethink it right now,” LaBonge said. “We always like to help out, especially for the Miracle Mile because it’s such a historic spot.”
Cohen said the coalition is exploring other options to get the sign near La Brea Avenue fixed. She said it’s possible a corporation could donate the funding as a public service yet again.
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