Here's a railfan film collection edited together showing a wide variety of subjects, mostly from the Metropolitan Coach Lines era of the late 1950s. Included is footage of PCCs being loaded into ships at the harbor, as well as a lot of Southern District / Long Beach Line and 6th and Main activity. Thank you to Terry William Hamilton for unearthing this on YouTube!
February 24, 1957, on viaduct at Firestone Boulevard and Park Lane, sometime after leaving the 6th and Main Street Station, conveniently stopped so photographers could get a picture.
Here's a photo of the location today with the Blue Line overpass replacing the viaduct.
Stephen Dudley Photo, Stephen Dudley Collection
By Ralph Cantos
This tranquil 1956 photo at 6th & Main Street Station, once the hub of Pacific Electric's comprehensive Northern and Southern District rail operations, belies the dire conditions of the Southern District and at this point, it was getting worse by the month.
Car no. 5124 prepares to depart on one of the last late-night runs along the 7-mile route to Watts. Anti-rail, pro-bus Metropolitan Coach Lines management had managed to destroy the Western District rail operations in less than two years after purchasing PE's passenger service. The wonderful Subway Terminal tunnel was now a tomb for the worlds most beautiful PCCs , left unguarded to rot and endure horrible damage by sick vandals.
The four Southern District lines were now operating under the most deplorable conditions. The elevated terminal was now a rail island in a sea of green MCL buses. About 45 Blimps and 15 Hollywood cars were now on an RFT (run till failure) status. Except for replacement of broken windows, all cosmetic maintenance on the cars ceased the day Metro Coach Lines took over the rail operations. Only minor mechanical repairs on the cars were made under primitive , open-air conditions at Fairbanks Yard, using "arm strong" tools.
The loyal passengers of the Southern District (myself included ) endured filthy and unkempt cars. All the while, MCL management continued to request the complete abandonment of the rail system to the PUC, to no avail. That dirty deed was left to the LAMTA. The Southern District rail line did not stand a chance for survival, as the new LAMTA did not have to answer to the PUC or anyone else for that matter. The Southern District along with the 6th & Main Street Station were now doomed.
By the time the Watts line was abandoned, only one extra car was available to meet basic rush hour service requirements. Four unserviceable Hollywood cars, stripped of usable parts, sat in the weeds at Fairbanks yard. Finally in April of 1961, only about 30 or so operable Blimps, now in disgraceful condition, were still serviceable. Only one car (1543) received a new coat of paint, the first new paint since the big car left Torrance Shops back in 1947. The rest of the Blimps died with their RED PE boots on.
Ralph Cantos Collection
By Charles Wherry
Here is another menu from Pacific Electric’s 6th & Main Street restaurant.
The same photo as on the breakfast menu returns, this time in red tint. PE might have made the color choice as a help
for the wait staff to readily pick the correct menu given the time of day. This offering included a dinner selection as well
as a few breakfast items a la carte. My guess is this red cover edition sufficed for lunch and dinner. Quite a selection for
what was essentially a lunch counter operation.
Charles Wherry Collection
By Charles Wherry
Here are three photos of a breakfast menu from the Pacific Electric Restaurant at 6th and Main Streets in Los Angeles. The date of 12-41 appears in very small print at the lower right hand corner of the third image.
The cover shows what appears to be a composite photo of Pacific Electric bus no. 1686 superimposed in front of a ‘Butterfly’ Twelve. The number of the 1200 is not discernable, however, a picture of Butterfly no. 1216 posed at a favorite location of PE company photographers just outside the Torrance shops appears to be the locale.
Donald Duke’s Volume 3, Pacific Electric Railway, Southern Division, 148 shows 1216 in an identical pose without the bus.
Reading the menu provides some interesting insights to life and dietary choices in pre WWII 1941. Notice the prices of most meat items have been penciled in and although they appear to be bargains by today's standards, when adjusted for inflation, seem to be inline with today's costs. The 10-cent cup of coffee equates to $1.63 in 2015. The 60-cent Breakfast Steak comes out to $9.76 today
and if you were really hungry the No. 7 Club Breakfast cost a whopping .75 cents, $12.20 today.
Charles Wherry Collection
From the collection of Keith Ricks comes this unbelievably rare Pacific Electric Restaurant Employee badge, numbered 57, and featuring the description "Restaurant & News Service."
As Keith notes, PE maintained numerous food service facilities at key locations on the system, including 6th and Main (headquarters), Long Beach, Pasadena, and Subway Terminal, as seen here:
Here's a view of the 6th and Main restaurant:
Just unbelievably rare, and we're grateful to Keith for sharing with all of us! Thanks, Keith!
Keith Ricks Collection
By Ralph Cantos
LAMTA PCC #3148 prepares to depart 6th & Main Street elevated station for a southbound trip to Long Beach. Except for the very first northbound test run from Long Beach to LA in the "forward position," all the northbound trips were made in the "reverse position."
At 9th & Hooper on that first "test run," the 3148 was run into the 8th Street Yard, where it was "Y"-ed and then run in reverse the last mile or so to the 6th & Main Station, its makeshift rear headlight aglow. So, from then on, the southbound trips were operated in a normal fashion. There being no "Y" or loop at Long Beach, the runs back to LA were done in reverse all the way to the 6th and Main Street station.
All this "BS" in my opinion was for NOTHING. PE's beautiful double end PCCs were gone by this time, and Toronto's TTC had picked up every available surplus PCC in America (except for PE PCCs). There were NO "used" PCCs to be had. The TTC had gotten them all. And the MTA was not about to build a costly reverse loop at 6th & Main Station. With the "test runs" completed, the standard gauge trucks were returned to the SF MUNI, and the 3148 returned to its home turf on the P line. Little more than a year later, the Long Beach line was abandoned.
With the demise of the Long Beach Line, the MTA was no longer held hostage to the PE 6th & Main Street Terminal. So the terminal with its nice passenger amenities was closed and all of MTA's "modern" bus operations moved to an empty parking lot about a block away. Bus passengers were now left to fend for themselves, sometimes in less than ideal weather conditions, until the BIG UNION BUS Terminal was built on the site the old elevated station. And that too was abandoned in time. After about eight years of this LAMTA fiasco, the Southern California Rapid Transit District was created to replace the LAMTA. The SCRTD was in turn replaced by today's LACMTA, and the monumental task of rebuilding LA's once great commuter rail system began all over again. One big Hell of a "Humpty Dumpty" to say the least, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, simply to recreate what we once had. If I had not seen all this BS with my own eyes, I would never have believed anything like this could have happened, but it did and it was a DAMN SHAME that it was allowed to take place.
Ralph Cantos Collection
PERHYS' Steve Crise and Alan K. Weeks are outstanding in the new KCET "Lost LA" episode featuring the Subway Terminal tunnel network still in existence. Trust us - watch this one on your lunch break. You'll be glad you did! Great work, Steve and Alan!
Pacific Electric's 6th & Main Street Station, with an overhead view taken from the building itself, looking eastward at the elevated tracks and arrival / departure platforms. The image is circa 1950.
Unknown Photographer, Jack Finn Collection