J Line

Downtown Los Angeles in 1948: A Broadway Trolley Melody

Posted on: December 26, 2015 by Pacific Electric 5 Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This beautiful photo taken from atop the LARY-LATL building shows so well the dominance of streetcar transport that was once so prominent in Los Angeles. Here, looking north on Broadway at Broadway Place and Olympic Boulevard is a traction fan's "Trolley Paradise."

As a very young trolley fan, I would spend hours on end at 7th and Broadway watching the never-ending parade of LATL streetcars crossing the well-worn diamond at that fantastic intersection. The friendly, beautiful sounds of trolley bells echoed off the tall buildings. Not a harsh BEEP-BEEP of a GM bus could be heard at this wonderful place. I particularly loved the sounds as 2 or more heavy H-4s crossed the diamond in opposite directions; it was "industrial music" at its best. No sooner had an H-4 crossed, than a PCC would "tip toe" across the diamond with half the sound of the preceding H-4.

I was only 12 years old in 1955 and my only knowledge of the coming and goings of LA's wonderful traction system is from what I saw with my transfixed eyes. It was therefore a traumatic shock to my young life when I went Downtown in the late days of May 1955. I could not comprehend what had happened to all the LATL streetcars that had dominated not only Broadway but Spring and Main Streets as well. I was actually short of breath as I witnessed buses in the Union Station Station Loop from the window as my #2 Trolley Coach emerged from the tunnel under the station tracks.

Even worse, the sight of buses on Main, Spring and Broadway was almost unbearable to me. As I staked out my spot at 7th & Broadway, some of my anxiety faded away as all seemed normal on 7th Street — R-S & J cars still rolled up and down the street with no buses in sight.

But Broadway was a different story.

Gone were the 5 and 9 cars. Now the 5 line was operated with GM buses. The 9 line was gone for good. It was with some relief when I saw W and P cars still rolling up and down Broadway. I did not know it at the time, but the days were numbered for the W line and soon, the P cars would be the only streetcars on Broadway.

Eight years later the wonderful sound of trolley bells echoing of the Downtown buildings would give way to the blasting sounds of hordes of Diesel buses that replaced LA's beloved streetcars. The charm of Downtown and indeed, LA itself, was gone as far as I was concerned.

If you want to see and HEAR the CHARM that streetcars bring to a city, just head to San Francisco and stake out a spot on Market Street and you will see and HEAR for yourself what LA lost so many years ago...

Ralph Cantos Collection

LATL R, S & J Lines: The Charm of Downtown LA Died With Them

Posted on: April 7, 2015 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

Many post-World War II postcards showing vibrant downtown business districts across America had a tendency to include streetcars. What would any great city be without streetcars?

The high point of most US city rail transit systems was the modern PCC. Los Angeles was no exception. This postcard from about 1956 looking west on 7th Street at Broadway shows Los Angeles Transit Lines PCC car lines R-J and the H-4 operated S line doing what they did best — moving people.

What really makes this particular post card interesting to me is the 1941 Buick Limited 90F limo making the right turn from Broadway to 7th St. By 1956, prewar cars were becoming rare and to catch a low production '41 Buick Limo in this moment in time is really remarkable. By the looks of the Buick, its days of "high society and glory" are long gone. Buick produced limousines in direct competition with Cadillac. The last factory Buick limo left the Flint, Michigan, assembly line in February 1942. After the War, GM told the Buick Motor Davison "no more limos," and that was that!

When the last of LA's streetcar lines were abandoned on March 31, 1963, the charm of Downtown died with the last 5 car lines. Gone was the friendly sounds of streetcar bells resonating off the tall Downtown buildings — replaced by the loud, obnoxious, irritating standard BEEP BEEP horns used on most city transit buses at the time.

After 1963, only one major US city in the West where you could still enjoy the sounds of PCC bells was San Francisco. The decision by "Muni" (San Francisco Municipal Railway) to retain streetcars on Market Street was the best thing to happen to Downtown San Francisco.

And as the late Paul Harvey would say, "and now, you know the rest of the story." May he and LA's long-gone streetcars rest in peace...

Ralph Cantos Collection

LA PCCs at Christmas Time: Part 3

Posted on: December 13, 2013 by Pacific Electric 4 Comments

 

Harry D. Peat Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

Harry D. Peat Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority PCC no. 3046 swings onto Florence Avenue at the south end of Huntington Park's central business district.

This beautiful photo taken by Harry D. Peat in December 1962 will be the last time such a photo can ever be taken again. This is the LAST Christmas for LA's once-vast streetcar system. The excellent condition of the overhead and no. 3046 belies the fact that the end of its service life — along with 163 of its sisters PCCs — is a just four months away.

In most cases, the Christmas decorations that hung from streetcar overhead were paid for by an "small financial assessment" imposed on businesses along the street where such decorations were to be displayed. A private contractor would hang the decorations, all the while dodging the passing streetcars, in this case, the busy J line.

If the PE / LARY / LATL / or the MTA were ever paid a "small gratuity" for the use of their overhead span wires, this is lost to history. Even more important, such beautiful holiday scenes of LA's streetcars passing below Christmas-decorated overhead has also been lost to history.

I don't see Christmas decorations being hung from the catenary on today's light rail lines such as the Blue, Gold and Expo Lines here in LA or anywhere else in America for that matter....

Harry D. Peat Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

3029 at 7th and Grand

Posted on: December 5, 2012 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

Los Angeles Railway J Line car no. 3029 turns off 7th Street and onto Grand in this image taken December 5, 1941, just before Pearl Harbor.

Ralph Cantos Collection

3063 at the Tenth Avenue Loop

Posted on: July 23, 2011 by PERyHS No Comments

 

L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

 
Los Angeles Transit Lines PCC car no. 3063 rests at the Tenth Avenue Loop passenger shelter at the end of the J Line in this image dated March 10, 1956.
 
L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

LATL 3165 in Huntington Park

Posted on: June 19, 2011 by PERyHS 3 Comments

 

L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

 
Los Angeles Transit Lines J Line PCC car no. 3165 rolls through Huntington Park as part of the 20th Anniversary PCC event on March 18, 1957.
 
L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

LATL 3165 at the Palm Place Loop

Posted on: June 19, 2011 by PERyHS No Comments

 

L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

 
Los Angeles Transit Lines PCC no. 3165 pauses at the Palm Place Loop in South Gate in this J Line image dated March 18, 1958. This was captured during an ERA fan trip.
 
L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

1450 on the J Line

Posted on: March 21, 2011 by PERyHS 1 Comment

 

L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

 
Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (still painted Los Angeles Transit Lines, ex-Los Angeles Railway) J Line streetcar no. 1450 pauses at a light in traffic in this image dated May 1959. The slide included information stating this was from the final H Class trip.
 
L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

3062 Special

Posted on: March 21, 2011 by PERyHS 2 Comments

 

L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

 
Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (ex-Los Angeles Transit Lines) J Line PCC car no. 3062 negotiates traffic on Pacific Boulevard near Saturn Avenue in Huntington Park in this shot dated February 1963. An MTA Compton Line bus looms in the background.
 
L. Swanson Photo, Andy Goddard Collection

Modified based on comment

Here is a contemporary view of the location:


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9350 Works on Overhead

Posted on: March 1, 2011 by PERyHS 1 Comment

 

Bill Whyte Photo, Steve Crise Collection

Bill Whyte Photo, Steve Crise Collection

 
Los Angeles Transit Lines (ex-Los Angeles Railway) Tower Car no. 9350 and crew work on overhead catenary possibly at the west end of the J Line on Jefferson.
 
Bill Whyte Photo, Steve Crise Collection