The LARY-LATL H Line: Everyone wanted it, except management
By Ralph Cantos
When the Los Angeles Transit Lines purchased the Los Angeles Railway Co., the new corporation began an immediate house cleaning of a large portion of the LARY rail system. LATL management called it “trimming the fat.”
On Aug. 22, 1947, all Birney-operated shuttle lines were abandoned. Also, several major rail lines were abandoned, including the “Lovable U” Line.
One of the most popular lines to be abandoned on that fateful day was the H line. Los Angeles City Council member, the late Kenneth Hahn, was admittedly opposed to the H line abandonment. He even went so far as to propose a court injunction to stop the H Line abandonment.
But alas, LATL went ahead with the massive rail abandonment, and to make sure the H line was gone for good, crews began ripping up the rails on two sections of the line’s private-right-of-ways, literally minutes after the last H line car ended its run.
Today, if you know where to look, traces of the “back yard” right-of-way between Bimini Place on the west and a mile and a half to the east end of right of way at 2nd Street and Lafayette Park Place can a still be found.
All along the right-of-way easement, a utility pole line follows the rail line and newer 1950s homes are shoehorned on the narrow right-of-way between houses dating to the early 1910s.
This scene is unrecognizable today. The house and apartment building on both sides of the tracks were bulldozed away, and replaced by a huge 1960 apartment.
1258 crosses busy Virgil Ave under the protection of an ACME traffic signal. Notice the traffic signal censor on the overhead wire. That censor on the west bound track, reset the ACME signal after the H car was safely across the street. There was a censor on the east bound trolley wire as well. Today, this scene is unrecognizable. Both the nice houses on each side of the tracks and the right-of-way, were bulldozed away years ago to make way for a large apartment building.
Another shot of the H Line at Virgil Ave. That big, beautiful wonderful “railfan house” is gone today.
1370 is seen here at the west end of right of way at Bimini Place between 1st and 2nd Streets. Today, this curve is very visible, it leads to an auto repair shop built on the spot where the 1370 was photographed.
1245 is seen here at Bimini Place and the short section of right-of-way. Today, the rails that the 1245 are on, have been uncovered and preserved.
Today, the rails leading out of the short right-of-way onto Bimini Place have been uncovered and preserved. This was the inbound track .
The former H Line tracks at 1st and Bimini was converted from a “run through” to a loop after the H Line abandonment . It was used by the LATL-LAMTA V line cars right up to the last day, March 31, 1963. To my knowledge, this is the very last streetcar rail to be seen any place in LA as it looks today.
LATL 1380 rolls southbound along Heliotrope Drive just south of Melrose Ave. Today, this once-tranquil scene has been shattered by the Hollywood (101) Freeway that was built over Heliotrope Drive, taking everything seen here with it. This is shortly before abandonment.
I took this photo of my car along Heliotrope Drive in 1996, almost 50 years since the rails were paved over. The 50-year-old pavement was scraped away, revealing the perfectly preserved H Line car tracks. The Hollywood Freeway is seen in the background. We will have to wait until about 2046 to see these rails again.
The west end of the H Line at Melrose and Western Avenues. Car 1305 in on the H Line and car 1391 is northbound on Western Ave. The end of rail service on both this section of the S Line on Western Ave. and the entire H Line was only days away when this photo was taken.
I must say, that if the H Line cars were still changing ends in the middle of Melrose Ave. today, auto traffic would be backed up along Melrose clear back to West Hollywood. An off-street loop or “Y” would have been built for the H Line PCCs, if Kenny Hahn had had his way.
Great article, Ralph! Some amazing photo’s and specific place’s mentioned.
In the 1940’s I used to love to lean out of my girlfriend’s 2nd story window facing Heliotrope and watch the H cards rolling by. Seemed like one was coming or going every few minutes. Great article and photos.
It would be great to have a list of all of the dumb, ignorant, short-sighted, stupid dipshit politicians who were against streetcars.