Riding the Heavy Iron on San Pedro Street

By Ralph Cantos

One picture is worth a thousand words. The extremely high track and overhead standards to which the City of Los Angeles imposed on the PE and LARY around 1918 is clearly in evidence in this 1949 photo taken at 7th & San Pedro Streets. The 431 has just crossed 7th St. heading south down San Pedro St. The 3′-6″ rails of the LATL S line turn west onto 7th St. joining the R and J lines. The beautiful tight overhead of the PE and LARY that spanned hundreds of streets in Los Angeles is undeniable in this photo.

The two long blocks along San Pedro St. with its dual gauge track, and PE / SP-style catenary, would be the last place in Los Angeles where the PE style catenary could be seen. That beautiful catenary was still being used by the LAMTA PCCs of the S line two years after the last PE Long Beach line trains passed beneath it.

In case anyone is interested, The Greyhound bus in this photo is a 1947 ACF IC-41 BRILL. The Greyhound Corporation was mostly a General Motors operation from about 1937 on. But after World War II, Greyhound needed more buses then General Motors could provide the company with. So, Greyhound “bit the bullet” and ordered several hundred “brand X” buses from other manufactures. Among them were the gasoline powered IC-41 interstate BRILL. These IC-41’s became known as “Suicide Seat Brills”. That’s because there was a single 2-passenger seat ahead of the front entrance door , just across the isle from the driver. When these buses were involved in serious highway accidents, the front of the bus was usually demolished killing the driver and the unlucky passengers seated just inches from the windshield. In their last years of service, passengers were not allowed to sit in that front seat.

Ralph Cantos Collection

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  • Steve Crise

    Ralph, sounds a lot like the name given to the Metrolink cab cars after the Glendale accident. After this accident, the cab cars were sometimes referred to as “coffin cars” due to their rather lite impact protection for crew and passengers.

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