Locating Los Angeles Transit Lines car no. 1251 on the N Line
By Steve Crise
This undated photo by Ken Douglas caught my eye the other day while researching our archive for other samples of Type H cars for a future article. This location seemed somewhat familiar to me but I could not immediately place it without doing a little hunting around on the internet first.
The usual clues that are present in a lot of the photos of streetcars are of course the street signs themselves. In this case, the name of the street crossing at this intersection would have been easily readable except for the unfortunate placement of the power pole obscuring the view of the streets sign from this particular angle.
So next we move on to the next most promising clue in the photo, a sign announcing the location of the Hotel Proctor on a building further into the background of the photo. A search on Google of “Hotel Proctor” didn’t yield any satisfactory results until about the fifth or sixth page where it suggested a most interesting resource to search, the Digital Library of the California Historical Society, in particular, a collection of photographs made by a person by the name of Anton Wagner.
Within this collection was an image Mr. Wagner made with the Hotel Proctor being listed by the archivist as being contained in one of his images. Although the Hotel Proctor is not predominately featured in the photograph, the hotel is listed in the data sheet accompanying the photo as being one of the structures in the image. It even went so far as to listed the modern day location in GPS coordinates! Of course with the GPS coordinates listed, it was no trick at all to figure out the rest.
Entering the coordinates of 34.048719, -118.268414, I was instantly transported to the intersection of James M. Woods Blvd (also known as W. 9th Street) and Garland Ave. Now things were staring to come into shape. The street scene at this intersection was becoming familiar to me again. A quick drive in a westerly direction via Google Earth revealed a match to the building once known as the Proctor Hotel, but today is now known as The Windsor located at 1415 W. 9th Street.
As mentioned earlier, the date of this photo is unknown to us. We received the image as a digital file from Ken and unfortunately there was no accompanying information in writing or in the metadata file. We had to resort to using the vehicles and their license plates as a means to narrow down the time period. To our best guess, the photo was shot sometime between 1947 and September 10, 1950. Why the date of September 10, 1950? Because it was the last day of operation for the N Line according to Ira L. Swett’s Interurban Special # 11, page 27.
Armed with all this new information, we can now confidently say that Los Angeles Transit Lines N Line car # 1251 was captured on film while traveling eastbound on W. 9th Street at Witmer Ave. around 1950.
As for the car 1251, it would go to on the serve the L.A.T.L. for another 8 years until it’s scrapping in 1958, which also coincided with the scrapping of the Los Angeles Transit Lines itself in March of that same year.
This was rather circuitous route on our quest to find this mystery location but an interesting journey none the less. I highly recommend a visit to the Digital Library of the California Historical Society and explore the Anton Wagner collection at your leisure. Here is a direct link to the photo that brought it all together:
For those of you that enjoy obscure, seemingly random photographs made in and around the city of Los Angeles, the Anton Wagner collection is a great way to get lost for a few hours in the old cityscape of 1930’s Los Angeles. (5/28/2022)