By Ralph Cantos
This picture-perfect photo was taken on Brand Boulevard in December of 1954 showing Pacific Electric PCC no. 5028 rolling inbound to the Subway Terminal. PE's "industrial beautiful" SP-style catenary is bedecked with Christmas decorations. This was the only location on the Glendale-Burbank Line where the cars passed under Christmas decorations. This was as good as 1950s traction gets.
As the 1954 holiday season drew to a close, commuters and rail fans looked confidently and optimistically to the future of this viable rail line. Hopes were for many more years of Christmas scenes like this one to come. The euphoric optimism was fueled by the Cities of Glendale and Burbank's united stand opposing the abandonment of rail service by bus-minded Metropolitan Coach Lines. MCL would stop at nothing until all of the former PE rail service was gone.
In spite of the common-sense opposition to rail abandonment by commuters, rail fans and the Brand Boulevard Chamber of Commerce, "we don't give a damn" back room dealings by MCL management and Glendale City officials turned their backs on EVERYONE, and the line was scuttled. The line was gone just six months after this photo was taken.
Christmas along Brand Blvd. would never be the same again. Bus stop sign poles just do not provide ideal provisions for Christmas decorations.
In the years following the abandonment, vultures descended on the line in the form of scrappers (rail-overhead-steel bridges-and signaling equipment), real-estate developers (apartments at Monte Sano and Toluca Yard) and the Highway Department (the 2 Glendale Freeway). The line was picked clean. The once busy rail line, even in car-crazy Southern California, was reduced to a marginal bus line with lengthy running times and low passenger loadings.
The dirty deed had been done.
Ralph Cantos Collection