R 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

521 at Brannick Loop

Posted on: January 15, 2013 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines (ex-Los Angeles Railway) car no. 521 poses for the camera at the east end of the R line (Brannick Loop) during a Fan Trip.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection... Read More

1375 on 7th and Broadway

Posted on: December 27, 2012 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines R Line car no. 1375 travels at 7th and Broadway; the perspective is looking west. The image is dated June 22, 1948.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

286 and 1375 at 1st and the Vermont Loop

Posted on: December 27, 2012 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines nos. 286 and 1375 rest at 1st Street and the Vermont Loop in this August 31, 1948, image.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

1387 at 7th and Vermont

Posted on: December 27, 2012 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines R Line car no. 1387 turns at 7th and Vermont in this image dated June 22, 1948.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

1377 at 6th and Boyle

Posted on: December 27, 2012 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines R Line car no. 1377 is captured at 6th Street and Boyle Avenue in this image dated August 24, 1948.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

286 and 1375 at the 1st and Vermont Loop

Posted on: June 26, 2012 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Alan Weeks Photo Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo
Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines streetcars from the V Line (no. 286) and R Line (no. 1375) pause for a break at the 1st and Vermont Loop on August 31, 1948.

Alan Weeks Photo
Alan Weeks Collection

1387 at 7th and Vermont

Posted on: June 26, 2012 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Alan Weeks Photo Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo
Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines R Line car no. 1387 at 7th and Vermont on June 22, 1948.

Alan Weeks Photo
Alan Weeks Collection

1377 at 6th and Boyle

Posted on: June 26, 2012 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines R Line car no. 1377 is captured at 6th Street and Boyle Avenue on August 24, 1948.

Alan Weeks Photo
Alan Weeks Collection