LATL cars in Downtown Los Angeles

Until May 22, 1955, it would be almost impossible to take a photo for your own collection, or a postcard such as this scene, anywhere in Downtown without an Los Angeles Transit Lines or Pacific Electric car present.

LATL PCCs carried a permeant front dash placard holder proclaiming “TAKE THIS CAR TO BULLOCKS DOWNTOWN”.  Indeed, with the exception of the crosstown V line, just about every LATL car line in modern times passed through Downtown LA.

This postcard scene taken at 7th & Broadway captured an H-4  1200 class “S” car stopped at that legendary intersection. In 1932, LARY retrofitted cars no. 1201 to 1263 and the no. 1357 and no. 1370 with built in roof Hunter roller sign. Although the number of this car is not visible, it certainly would be one of the for mentioned 1200s.

As a very young railfan, I would go downtown most Saturdays via the no. 2 trolley coach from City Terrace. I would stake out a nice spot on Broadway and 7th and watch the endless parade of LATL cars passing through that intersection. The sound of the cars hitting the diamond was music to my young ears.  I especially loved the sounds of the H cars cars as they rumbled through.

With car lines 5-9-W-& P on Broadway and lines R-S-& J on 7th, one or more cars thrilled me with every turn of the traffic lights. The friendly sounds of the trolley bells echoed off the tall buildings. You could hear the bells all over the downtown district.  It was paradise.

Alas, all this wonderment ended on that faithful day in 1955. After that day, downtown LA lost almost all its charm. The beautiful sounds of the cars’ bells were replaced by the harsh beeping  horns of the replacement GM buses.

here still were 5 car lines serving downtown, but the frequency of the cars was much less. Soon, the W line was gone too, leaving the P car as the only car line on Broadway.  And then came March 31, 1963. Downtown LA was DONE. A wonderful city had, in my eyes, become just another town.

Although light rail has returned to LA , the Central Business District will never be the same. The charm of the CBD is gone.

Ralph Cantos Collection

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Showing 3 comments
  • Al Donnelly

    Spot on. Once the cars quit, so too did the shoppers. The wonderful Christmas window displays, now just remembered in movies, became a passing shadow. The stars were going out like the sparks from the wires. Soon it was all over and the suburban retreat took hold. Cue the music…Surf Tommorrow, tonight disco! By 1970, it was all about digging up everything that was outside the general urban zone and shiving in more parking lots (that was supposed to read shoving in, but I realized that shiving was a heck of a lot more accurate…the big backstab.)

  • Ralph Cantos

    The MAY Co. at 8th & Broadway always had the BEST window displays at Christmas time. All the big windows along Broadway and 8th St. had beautiful displays. And there was always a Lionel train in the mix. For a young rail fan, it was a must see..

  • Al Donnelly

    And the streets always seemed clean and well kept. There was still a lot of respect for the downtown. Dining venues were nice and never run down looking. Simply put, it was not a dump that caused people to turn and run.

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