S 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 1165 Farewell Fan Trip

Posted on: November 9, 2015 by Pacific Electric 3 Comments

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

Los Angeles Transit Lines car no. 1165 poses for the camera on this "Farewell to the 1100s" fan trip operated on November 7, 1954 on the S Line.

In less than a year, this nice car and more the 100 other LATL mint-condition cars will be sent to scrap at Terminal Island. The massive May 22, 1955 abandonment of car lines 5-7-8-9-F and the northern portion of the W line made over 100 H-4s and K-4s — along with the remaining Standards and 1100s surplus.

Cars 2602 and the 2501 also were sent to T.I. The body of 2501 was later saved and moved to OERM.

Ralph Cantos Collection

LATL 1438 at 7th Street and San Pedro

Posted on: September 26, 2015 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Unknown Photographer, Steve Crise Collection

Unknown Photographer, Steve Crise Collection

It's September 11, 1957 and Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1438 is photographed on 7th Street at San Pedro Street in Los Angeles.

Unknown Photographer, Steve Crise Collection

LATL 1419 at 8th Avenue and Western

Posted on: September 26, 2015 by Pacific Electric 4 Comments

 

Unknown photographer, Steve Crise Collection

Unknown photographer, Steve Crise Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1419 on the S Line is photographed circa 1950 at 8th Avenue and Western (looking west toward Western Avenue).

Image notes: Note the Ben Franks restaurant and American Cancer Society in the background. The ACS building became "Wonderland Studios" owned by recording artist Stevie Wonder.

Unknown photographer, Steve Crise Collection

LATL 1387 at Broadway and 7th Street

Posted on: September 26, 2015 by Pacific Electric 3 Comments

 

Unknown Photographer, Steve Crise Collection

Unknown Photographer, Steve Crise Collection

Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority no. 1387 pauses at Broadway and 7th Street on the September 21, 1958, Southern California Electric Railway Association (SC-ERA) Fan Trip.

Notes: Although this slide is dated September 1958, the movie on the Warner Bros marquee "Naked in the Sun," was released on September 20, 1957. It is running as a second feature on the marquee so it could be a year after its release. Shot is slightly out of focus due to camera movement during the exposure. Note the Los Angeles County Fair banner above the car featuring their old mascot Thummer.

Unknown Photographer, Steve Crise Collection

LATL 1379 at 3rd and Western

Posted on: May 10, 2015 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1379 pauses to take on passengers at 3rd Street and Western as part of S Line service. Undated photo.

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Here's a view of this intersection today:

LATL 1305 and 1391

Posted on: May 10, 2015 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

 Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines cars nos. 1305 (H Line service) and 1391 (S Line service) at a crossing at Western Avenue in this undated photo.

Philipott and Baldridge 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

Standing on a Milk Box in the Middle of Temple Street

Posted on: January 24, 2013 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Raymond E. Younghans Photo, Orange Empire Railway Museum OERM Collection

Raymond E. Younghans Photo, Orange Empire Railway Museum OERM Collection

Here's a terrific photo by Raymond E. Younghans, capturing L.T. Gotchy on a milk box in the middle of Temple Street, snapping Los Angeles Railway cars (S Line H-3 and W Line 1500) on Broadway, on June 16, 1946.

Raymond E. Younghans Photo, Orange Empire Railway Museum OERM Collection

1387 at 7th and Broadway

Posted on: February 11, 2012 by Pacific Electric 5 Comments

 

Dick Whittington Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

Dick Whittington Photo, Ralph Cantos Collection

This classic Dick Whittington photo captures the sheer dominance of Los Angeles Railway action in pre-World War II downtown Los Angeles. Here, LARy 1387 passes through the intersection of 7th Street and Broadway, while numerous other LARy cars fill the image. The high-vantage-point image is a true classic of Los Angeles history.

Dick Whittington Photo
Ralph Cantos Collection