By Ralph Cantos
Near-new Los Angeles Railway PCC no. 3011 swings off of Larchmont Boulevard onto West 3rd Street in this 1939 photo.
LARY was very proud of their new PCCs. LARY got the 4th order of St. Louis Car Co. PCCs in the USA, behind Brooklyn & Queens Transit, Pittsburgh Railways, and San Diego Electric Railway. The LARY 3 Line operation along West 3rd Street and Larchmont Boulevard was the most "well to due" area that any Los Angeles streetcar line ventured into. Granted, many LARY car lines operated into some very nice neighborhoods, but the 3 Line operation in the Hancock Park and the Larchmont section of LA had to be at the top of the "high society streetcar" list.
Rail service in this part of town was gradually phased out starting in 1948 when the new 3 Line trolley coach replaced rail service west of Larchmont Blvd. The rail service had gone as far west as La Brea Avenue operating as the S line. Rail service along West 3rd Street past Wilton Place and up Larchmont Blvd. was now operated as the R line. The rail service along Larchmont Boulevard was unique in that the trolley wire center poles were left in place in the pavement after the private right of way along the boulevard was paved over. The lower portion of the poles were painted silver with black stripes in an effort to keep LA motorists from crashing into them.
This section of the 3 Line became a favorite filming location for comedy car chases. In one such film, "FALSE ALARMS," staring The Three Stooges, the boys drive a new 1936 FORD coupe at a high rate of speed up Larchmont all the while darting back and forth between the trolley wire poles, ending in a crash.
That rail service ended in 1954 with no bus replacement. LATL management figured that anyone living along Larchmont Blvd. could easily walk the 3 blocks that separated bus service on 3rd Street, Beverly Boulevard and Melrose Avenue. LATL management surmised that a short walk in this nice neighborhood would do wonders for the former rail passengers heart and vascular systems. There has never been reports of any former rail line passengers dropping dead while hoofing it along Larchmont Boulevard, so LATL management must have felt vindicated.
As a final note, as nice as the LARY PCCs were, they were "bare bones" as far as available options went. The LARY deleted "crank window lifts," heaters, and rear markers. All in all, they were still very nice cars.
I am sure that many, if not all, LA commuters that had been using the PCC-operated rail lines R-S-J-V and P were not very happy on the morning of April 1, 1963 when "Gutter Liner" bus service replaced the smooth riding cars. LA's loss would become Cairo, Egypt's gain.
Ralph Cantos Collection