Alan Weeks Collection

 

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

Pacific Electric car no. 994 rounds the curve at Overland Avenue in the spring of 1950. This is the westbound afternoon / evening trip. Hollywood cars provided service for the last three years of the line's existence.

PE's Santa Monica Air Line was something of an "institution." The line was built in 1875 by the Los Angeles and Independence Railroad. Just 2 years after the line opened, the LA & I RR decided to sell the line to the Southern Pacific Railroad. The SP, hoping to build up a lucrative freight business, built at its own expense the world famous "LONG WHARF" in hopes of beating out Long Beach and San Pedro as a major shipping port. When that did not work out, the SP leased the line and Wharf to the Los Angeles Pacific Railroad around 1908. A few years later, all LA&P holdings and infrastructure were taken over by the "New PE" in the Great Merger of 1911.

The Santa Monica Air Line was essentially built as a freight line. Passenger service along the line tended to be an annoyance to the PE. Passenger schedules along the line reflected the PE's annoyance with the line. The best service (what there was) was provided between Downtown LA and Culver Junction. West of Culver Junction, the service was "sparse" at best. After several unsuccessful attempts to abandon passenger service altogether, a "compromise" was reached with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) around 1932-33: a grand total of ONE in-and-outbound passenger trip was provided for the "convenience" of about 50 die-hard regular passengers who cherished the rail service.

Meanwhile, the world-famous Venice Short Line that provided much more frequent service to essentially the same destinations, was abandoned on September 17, 1950, leaving the Air Line as the lone passenger service on the Westside of LA, Santa Monica, and Venice.
This wonderful passenger service was cut back to 11th Avenue on October 27, 1953, leaving those faithful Air Line passengers high and dry.

This was done in preparation for the sale to Metropolitan Coach Lines of all remaining PE passenger service, both rail and bus. When MCL took over PE's passenger service, the Air Line was not included in the sale. And so for about 30 days in October of 1953, the Air Line would become the LAST passenger service on the PE.

Today, rail service along the Air Line has been reborn as the LACMTA's EXPO Line. Two- and three-car air-conditioned trains run along the line at 12 minute intervals with standing-room-only passenger loads, a far cry from the 50 faithful passengers that kept the line going for so many years, riding aboard 800s, 950s, 1000s and finally, Hollywood cars to the bitter end in 1953.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Collection

5028 in Atwater

Posted on: March 29, 2016 by Pacific Electric 6 Comments

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection, Courtesy Ralph Cantos

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection, Courtesy Ralph Cantos

Pacific Electric PCC no. 5028 glides in the Atwater district on June 10, 1955, in this classic Alan K. Weeks photo. The PCC is unhampered by auto traffic.

Just days later, the line would be abandoned, and buses would be mired in auto traffic below this line's former right of way.

Alan K. Weeks Photo, Alan K. Weeks Collection

Image courtesy Ralph Cantos

PE 5008 at the LA River: A crime against traveling humanity

Posted on: March 1, 2016 by Pacific Electric 2 Comments

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

By Ralph Cantos

This breathtaking photograph, taken by master photographer Alan K. Weeks, shows the Pacific Electric Glendale-Burbank Line at is best. At the time Alan took this photo, the end for the G-B Line was just days away.

The line a was a showcase for modern light rail rapid transit in the late 1940s and early '50s. The PE had invested hundreds of thousands of of private capital in 1940 to completely rebuild the line, top to bottom, end to end. The line was equipped with 30 ultra-modern MU PCCs built to PE's own specs. The PCCs were augmented with a like number of rebuilt suburban Hollywood cars. The Hollywood cars were considered by transit experts to be the finest "standard" rail cars to ever grace the streets of any American city after their 1940 modernization. No other rail cars in the country could equal their smart, handsome appearance, fast acceleration and smooth ride.

And yet after only 15 years of all this investment into providing commuters of the Glendale-Burbank Line the finest transportation possible, the line was scuttled in favor of INFERIOR buses, in the name of curb service and flexible routing. City officials stood by and did not to a DAMN thing. Their take? The line's commuters could all "take a hike."

Fast forward to 1990. The LA Metro Blue line opens on a completely rebuilt former interurban rail line that was foolishly abandoned some 29 years earlier, while City officials stood by and again, did not do a DAMN thing. The "new" Metro Blue Line was equipped with the latest light rail cars of LA's own design, much the same way the Glendale-Burbank line was in 1940.

As the year 2005 dawned, the Blue Line was now 15 years old. Suppose you opened your morning newspaper and read that the Blue Line was to be abandoned in favor of more flexable buses and curb service. This is the shock that greeted commuters of the Glendale-Burbank line when they were informed that the line was to be abandoned. Who in their right mind would look at such a conversion as anything but insane?

And so, the Glendale-Burbank line , just 15 years old, fell victim to "we don't give a damn" and greed by those in charge of the line's fate. Had the line somehow managed to survive into the late 1980s it would have been given top consideration for conversion into modern, high-speed light rail service. But unlike the Blue Line's right-of-way that had remained largely intact for almost 30 years after abandonment, the Glendale-Burbank Line's infrastructure was demolished and its valuable rights-of-way carved up like a Christmas turkey.

In my humble opinion, an UNFORGIVABLE act of vandalism.

The entire line, everything, wiped out as fast as could be done, a costly lesson for all of us to remember.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

LATL 1444 at Sunset and Spring

Posted on: July 11, 2015 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1444 on F Line service at Sunset and Spring Streets in July of 1949.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

LATL 1268 at Vermont and 116th

Posted on: July 11, 2015 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1268 pauses for passengers at Vermont Boulevard and 116th Street on the F Line. This location today is just south of the 105 Freeway at Vermont.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

LATL 1246 at 54th and Crenshaw

Posted on: July 11, 2015 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1254 on 8 Line service is photographed at 54th Street and Crenshaw in July of 1949.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

LATL 1216 at Sunset and Spring Streets

Posted on: July 11, 2015 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

 Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1216 is photographed at Sunset and Spring Streets in Los Angeles on January 1, 1950.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

LATL 1238 at Spring and 9th Streets

Posted on: July 11, 2015 by Pacific Electric 1 Comment

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1238 rounds the corner on N Line service at Spring and 9th Streets in downtown Los Angeles. The date is August 2, 1950.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

LATL 1238 at Vermont and 8th

Posted on: July 11, 2015 by Pacific Electric 2 Comments

 

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1238 rounds the corner at Vermont and 8th Streets in this N Line image dated August 2nd, 1950.

Note what may be an LATL work truck and crew doing demolition or repair in front of the Citizens Bank building.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

LATL 1253 at Spring, Main and 9th Streets

Posted on: July 11, 2015 by Pacific Electric No Comments

 

 Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection

Los Angeles Transit Lines no. 1253 at Spring / Main and 9th Streets in downtown Los Angeles on September 9th, 1950.

Alan Weeks Photo, Alan Weeks Collection