W 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

LARy 1535 on the W Line with Road Construction

Posted on: May 30, 2015 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

 Steve Armitage Collection

Steve Armitage Collection

It's road construction time on the W Line as Los Angeles Railway car no. 1535 passes through the barricades near Buena Vista Street on Figueroa.

Here's how it looks today:

Steve Armitage Collection

LATL 1218 Up the Grade

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

 

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines car no. 1218 heads up the grade on W Line service in this undated photo.

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

LARy 1545 on the W Line

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

 

 Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Los Angeles Railway car no. 1545 pauses for the photographer in this undated image from the W Line.

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

LARy 1537

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

 

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Los Angeles Railway no. 1537 idles on the W Line in this undated photo.

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

W Line Action

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

 

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

An unidentified Los Angeles Transit Lines streetcar rounds a curve on the W Line in this undated photo.

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

LATL 1385 on W Line Service

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

 

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1385 on W Line service at one of the Avenues in northeast Los Angeles.

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

LATL 1325 on the W Line

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

 

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1325 eases through a gentle curve on the W Line in this undated photo.

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

LATL 1281 in Traffic

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

 

 Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1281 negotiates traffic on the W Line in this undated photo.

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

LATL 1215 on the W Line

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

 

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Philipott and Baldridge Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1215 is photographed on W Line service in this undated image.

Philipott and Baldridge Collection