LARY 3011: High Society PCC

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

Near-new Los Angeles Railway PCC no. 3011 swings off of Larchmont Boulevard onto West 3rd Street in this 1939 photo.

LARY was very proud of their new PCCs. LARY got the 4th order of St. Louis Car Co. PCCs in the USA, behind Brooklyn & Queens Transit, Pittsburgh Railways, and San Diego Electric Railway. The LARY 3 Line operation along West 3rd Street and Larchmont Boulevard was the most “well to due” area that any Los Angeles streetcar line ventured into. Granted, many LARY car lines operated into some very nice neighborhoods, but the 3 Line operation in the Hancock Park and the Larchmont section of LA had to be at the top of the “high society streetcar” list.

Rail service in this part of town was gradually phased out starting in 1948 when the new 3 Line trolley coach replaced rail service west of Larchmont Blvd. The rail service had gone as far west as La Brea Avenue operating as the S line. Rail service along West 3rd Street past Wilton Place and up Larchmont Blvd. was now operated as the R line. The rail service along Larchmont Boulevard was unique in that the trolley wire center poles were left in place in the pavement after the private right of way along the boulevard was paved over. The lower portion of the poles were painted silver with black stripes in an effort to keep LA motorists from crashing into them.

This section of the 3 Line became a favorite filming location for comedy car chases. In one such film, “FALSE ALARMS,” staring The Three Stooges, the boys drive a new 1936 FORD coupe at a high rate of speed up Larchmont all the while darting back and forth between the trolley wire poles, ending in a crash.

That rail service ended in 1954 with no bus replacement. LATL management figured that anyone living along Larchmont Blvd. could easily walk the 3 blocks that separated bus service on 3rd Street, Beverly Boulevard and Melrose Avenue. LATL management surmised that a short walk in this nice neighborhood would do wonders for the former rail passengers heart and vascular systems. There has never been reports of any former rail line passengers dropping dead while hoofing it along Larchmont Boulevard, so LATL management must have felt vindicated.

As a final note, as nice as the LARY PCCs were, they were “bare bones” as far as available options went. The LARY deleted “crank window lifts,” heaters, and rear markers. All in all, they were still very nice cars.

I am sure that many, if not all, LA commuters that had been using the PCC-operated rail lines R-S-J-V and P were not very happy on the morning of April 1, 1963 when “Gutter Liner” bus service replaced the smooth riding cars. LA’s loss would become Cairo, Egypt’s gain.

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

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Showing 18 comments
  • Chris Bungo
    Reply

    I did a presentation on this line a few years ago, showing the Larchmont line where it met Melrose as seen in The Three Stooges film FALSE ALARMS in 1936.

    https://youtu.be/2_fFHFZWrEY

    • Ron
      Reply

      Thank you both for sharing. Very interesting!

  • Duncan Still
    Reply

    One added item giving the “3” line class (in my eyes, at least) was that prior to the completion of Union Station, the other 3 line terminus was SP’s (and UP’s) Central Station.

  • John Gillette
    Reply

    If you are referring to lines only in the City of LA, I’d agree. Include the PE, and I’d bet the Oak Knoll line in to that bastion of old money would be a contender for that title

    • Pacific Electric
      Reply

      great point, John! – Ed.

  • Terry Hamilton
    Reply

    Great idea, using the Three Stooges photo.

  • David Sobo
    Reply

    Was there a PCC turn around loop at the north end of larchmont?

    • Ralph Cantos
      Reply

      there was a “Y” located on the west side of the street just short of Melrose Ave. It was built when PCC’s began serving the line.

      • Camille
        Reply

        Ralph, I have been looking for you for years…Do you remember me? Artist, Camille Rendal
        I also just found out that Chris Shorr had passed away.
        Please contact me Would like to get back in touch

    • Pacific Electric
      Reply

      David – Ralph has added an image of 3111 at the Y above…check it out!

  • Bob Davis
    Reply

    We may never know, but I sometimes wonder about the reaction of LARy passengers when a PCC went by a loading area, and then a Huntington Standard approached going the THEIR destination. Did someone say, “How come the folks on the P-line get the nice, modern cars while we have to ride these old clunkers?”

  • Ralph Cantos
    Reply

    While most LARY and later LATL commuters would rather ride a PCC over a “standard” or “H-4” if given the choice,at the end of the day,most commuters just want to get home,they don’t give a damn what kind of car it was.
    The late Norman K. Johnson once told me that he had the chance to ride aboard LATL line car #9350 while it and its crew made their rounds. At several locations, wood-be passengers waiting in safety zones wanted to clime aboard the 9350. They just wanted to get home !!

  • David Sobo
    Reply

    I lived close to the West Boulevard stop of the “A”line. I remember many the time that my mother and I would walk up west Blvd to Washington, and then on across the PE viaduct, get thru the Sears store and stand at the loop at Pico and Rimpau just so we could ride the streamliners. Sometimes we would walk to Jefferson and 10th to do the same. I also remember many of the complaints from the neighbors about the rickety old A cars compared to the streamliners on both Pico and Jefferson. The “W” cars were sort of OK. Naturally, I preferred the walk up West Boulevard so I could peer over the railing on the viaduct to watch the stream of red car traffic.

  • Bob Davis
    Reply

    Good point, Ralph. When the transit fans comment about wonderful new cars or exciting new paint jobs on buses or trains, my thought is that the typical passenger doesn’t care what the ride looks like, just as long as it’s reasonably comfortable, relatively clean, and runs reliably and often.

  • Riley G.
    Reply

    On PE’s Long Beach line, the Los Cerritos stop was by Bixby Knolls, a wealthy area. One afternoon near the end around 1960, I saw a limmo dropped off an elderly well-dressed woman, who got on the red car to LA. She had to climb the high car steps, but on board could relax in a big green velour seat.

  • Duncan Still
    Reply

    Regarding the “well-to-do” aspects of the 3 line, there was also a movie studio connection. The wye at Larchmont and Melrose was a very short walk from the RKO studios on Melrose.

    Also, now we have established that PCC’s turned on the Melrose/Larchmont wye. How were they turned at the other end of the 3 line (this was near the 7th and Central carbarn)-was there a reversing loop or was there a wye or else something else?

  • Ralph Cantos
    Reply

    Duncan, there was a loop across the street from Div.1. The cars turned off of Central Ave onto Wilde St. one short block to Kohler , then one short block north on Kohler to 6th St. and then back to Central. The rails on Wilde St. remained in service as a “Y” until the end, and was used from time to time for turn backs, and no fan trip ever passed up a chance to back up a PCC into the “Y” on Wilde St.

  • Duncan Still
    Reply

    Thank you for the information, Ralph. I believe that when the PE’s SP Station-Edendale line was in operation, the PE cars ran on 6th St. and then turned onto Ceres, with the line terminating at Ceres and Central. I don’t know if the short section of LARY track on 6th between Kohler and Central could have been dual gauged and shared with the PE.

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