Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne is penning a new series on the rapidly evolving boulevards of Southern California.

“We all have a pretty good idea of what an L.A. boulevard looks like,” Hawthorne says in a video introducing the series. “It’s filled with cars, it’s lined by billboards, by drive-thrus, motels—the architecture of the commercial strip.”

But the boulevards, generally considered nothing more than a gateway to somewhere else, are now being looked at as places to live as they undergo some dramatic changes.  “It’s becoming friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists, it’s adding new light-rail and subway lines … it’s where Los Angeles, which has long been such a private city is beginning to reembrace the public realm,” Hawthorne says.

The first article in the series looks at the Atlantic Boulevard, which stretches from the San Gabriel valley in the north to Long Beach in the south. The changes occurring along this boulevard, Hawthorne writes, are emblematic of the way that architects and planners are redoing the other Southern California boulevards.

Future articles to look for in the series will explore the stories of Sunset, Crenshaw, and the other major boulevards that connect L.A.