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Nixon Freeway? Michael Jackson Auditorium? Some L.A. place names are no longer

November 14, 2010 |  3:19 pm

A name on an auditorium

When Richard Nixon died in 1994, The Times observed that he had "resuscitated his reputation and emerged as an elder statesman," but "he never got his freeway back."

The reference was to California 90, between the 405 Freeway and Marina del Rey, which state lawmakers had named in his honor in 1971.

In 1976, with Nixon's image tarnished by Watergate, lawmakers quietly responded to the request of local Chamber of Commerce officials and took his name off the 2.5-mile roadway. The Nixon Freeway became the Marina Freeway.

The episode illustrates how naming a geographical place in honor of a living person can be risky.

In 1989, Gardner Street Elementary School in Hollywood unveiled Michael Jackson Auditorium.

But the school covered up the sign in 2003 after Jackson's arrest on suspicion of child molestation.

Following his death last year, however, his fans called for his name to be restored, and the Los Angeles Unified School District agreed to do so in recognition of "his musical legacy and contribution to modern culture."

Read more: "Naming a site for a living person can be risky."

-- Steve Harvey

Photo: In 1989, pop star Michael Jackson receives a plaque from Laura Gerson, his sixth-grade teacher at Gardner Street Elementary School, which named its auditorium for him. Credit: Los Angeles Times