Los Angeles Railway

Los Angeles Icons: City Hall and the PCC

Posted on: April 9th, 2014 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

From 1953 until 1958, and for endless decades of reruns, Los Angeles City Hall was know to millions of people around the world as "The Daily Planet Building" in the fictional city of Metropolis.

Along with the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the US Capitol Building in Washington DC, LA City Hall is known the world over.

The Adventures of Superman was just one of many appearances LA City Hall has made on both the small and large screens. It was blown to pieces in the 1953 movie War Of The Worlds.

What better way to show off this iconic building in a tourist postcard then to have a "state of the art," world-class transit vehicle to pose front and center in the classic photographic composition?

Taken sometime around 1956, an unidentified LATL P-3 all-electric waits for the green light and its chance to accelerate away at a pace that will leave most of the autos in this setting, "in the dust." Unlike the LARY-ordered prewar PCCs that were "stripped to the bone" of available accessories such as rear marker lights, heaters, window shades, and crank window lifts, the LATL ordered P-3s were deluxe in every way. They were "fully loaded."

And so just moments after this photo was taken, the P-3 will dash off to the East end of the P-line and into history. Who would ever have believed at the time, that just 7 years later, an inferior, non-descript GM bus will dominate this very same location, and these Cadillacs of city rail transit will be sold off to a fourth-world country?

Ralph Cantos Collection

Two Los Angeles Icons

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by Pacific Electric 7 Comments

 

RC-LARY-PCCs-Broadway-9th-1938

By Ralph Cantos

Several great cities in North America, 27 of them to be exact, had one thing in common: state of the art city rail transportation - the PCC streetcar!

Los Angeles was the 4th city in America to join the "PCC PARADE OF PROGRESS" in March 1937. Always in the forefront of street railways latest developments, the Los Angeles Railway along with the City was very proud to be host to the "latest thing on rails." What better way to show off this new asset in urban transit, but to showcase a PCC on the main boulevard of this great city? From 1937 until the outbreak of World War II, many post cards, both black & white and color, always included a Los Angeles Railway PCC gliding up or down Broadway.

In this 1938 post card, a new LARY PCC rolls south bound on Broadway at 9th Street against the back drop of one of the most beautiful buildings in LA. The Eastern Columbia Department Store. Any person listening to a radio in LA during the 1940s-50s and early 60s will recall with fondness the jingle "Eastern Columbia, Broadway at Ninth." That slogan was right up there with "Coast Federal Savings, 9th and Hill on the ground floor."

LARY PCCs would be a part of the LA cityscape for 35 years. In later years, color postcards featured LATL P-3 all-electrics, showing the world that LA was still a high water mark in city transportation. All of LA's world class city rail transit came to an end, first in 1955 when MCL scuttled the Glendale — Burbank Line and its revolutionary MU PCCs — and later in 1963 with the premature retirement of the finest street railway system in America and its PCCs. From that sad day until the opening of the METRO BLUE LINE, LA was just another dusty hick town with hordes of buses providing inferior transportation to a traffic-choked city.

Ralph Cantos Collection

LAMTA 3028: A Barn Fresh Surprise!

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by Pacific Electric 3 Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

When the first LAMTA (Many Trolley Abandonments) seized control of LA's transit operations on March 3, 1958, the first major announcement to affect rail operations was that all rail cars numbered below numbers 2000 were doomed.

The Hollywood cars were quickly renumbered into the 1800s and the Blimps were renumbered into 15- and 1700 numbers. The LATL H class died with their 1400 number boots on.

LA rail fans were lulled into a false sense of euphoria when just one month after "the great merger of 1958," PCCs began to sport the MTA's two tone green paint. Car maintenance continued at high levels to the very end. Even the most optimistic rail fan, myself included, were foolish enough to think that LA's streetcar system, the best maintained in the United States, would be around for decades to come, yah- right.

At the end of September 1958, PCCs took over service on the S line and the H class cars, all in mint condition, were scrapped. Just before the conversion of the S line, there were about 10 air-electric PCCs in storage since 1956 at Division One. All 10 cars were pulled out of storage, run through the car washer, given a quick safety check and returned to service.

In this photo taken by me on the last day fan trip for the H class cars on September 21, 1958, with the #1387, we had just pulled into the J line terminal at Jefferson & 10th Ave. And there, much to my surprise and shock, was the "barn fresh" #3028 still sporting its LATL emblem, BUT even more of a surprise was that the 3028 still retained its factory front and rear streamline moldings and opening front windshield with 4 blade "horizontal- sweep" wipers.

The 3028 WAS THE VERY LAST LA PCC to have these factory items. The LATL had began a program to remove the moldings and seal the windshields back in 1954. Like any "rebuilding program," there is always the first car and the LAST car to be modified. The 3028 had been placed into storage before the two changes were performed. Being a PCC fan, I disapproved of both modifications, but who am I to judge. Anyway, there was the 3028 in all her original form. I took several photos for posterity.

The next time I saw the 3028, she was sporting the LAMTA "GOOSE EGG" logo and painted green. She remained in service to the end. And on March 31, 1963 , the finest fleet of PCCs in the USA made their last runs and place into dead storage to await sale . All the while, DECREPIT, poorly maintained PCCs continued to operate in such rust belt cities as St. Louis, Pittsburg, Philadelphia, and Boston. Where is the justification?

Ralph Cantos Collection

616 at Colorado Boulevard and Townsend Avenue

Posted on: February 22nd, 2014 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines (ex-LA Railway) car no. 616 pauses on the 5 Line at Colorado Boulevard and Townsend Avenue in this image dated March 10, 1948.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

604 at Colorado Boulevard and Townsend Avenue

Posted on: February 22nd, 2014 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines (former Los Angeles Railway) car no. 604 with "Townsend Ave / Eagle Rock" sign pauses on the 5 Line at Colorado Boulevard and Townsend Avenue on December 22, 1947.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

950 at Colorado Boulevard and Townsend Avenue

Posted on: February 22nd, 2014 by Pacific Electric 2 Comments

 

 Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines car no. 950 on the 5 Line catches amazing light in this image taken November 1, 1947. The location is Colorado Boulevard and Townsend Avenue.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

615 at the Eagle Rock Terminal

Posted on: February 22nd, 2014 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines car no. 615 with "Inglewood / Hawthorne" signage rests at the 5 Line terminal in Eagle Rock on September 11, 1948.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

950 at Eagle Rock Boulevard and Merton

Posted on: February 22nd, 2014 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines car no. 950 on 5 Line service (Eagle Rock) is photographed at Eagle Rock Boulevard and Merton on November 30, 1948.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

601 at Jefferson and Grand

Posted on: February 22nd, 2014 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines car no. 601 with an "Inglewood Only" sign is captured at the intersection of Jefferson and Grand in this 5 Line action photo taken November 10, 1948.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

LARy Rails Re-Emerge on 7th Street in 2014

Posted on: February 17th, 2014 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society Photos

Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society Photos

Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society Photos

Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society Photos

Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society Photos

Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society Photos

Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society Photos

Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society Photos

Street resurfacing on 7th Street (just west of Alvarado, near Langer's Delicatessen-Restaurant) has revealed a stretch of old Los Angeles Railway rail still embedded in the street, more than 50 years after the last Los Angeles MTA streetcars operated.

Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society Photos