LATL 5 Line Abandonment: After 60 years, rail service returns (in part)

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

These 2 photos from different angles were taken on an over cast morning at 67th Street and Crenshaw Blvd. The date is Sunday, May 22, 1955, “the morning after the night before.”

Rail service on LATL car lines 5-7-8-9-F and the northern end of the W line had ended in the early morning hours on this date. Officials of the LATL invited Civic leaders of Inglewood for a photo op to celebrate a “new era in transportation” for Inglewood by staging the “old and new” modes of transport for photos.

It was a massive abandonment of 5 profitable car lines.

LATL management would have probably preferred to keep the 5 cars line in operation and leave the dirty deed of killing off LA’s city streetcar system to the forth coming LAMTA. But the construction of a one-mile stretch of the Harbor Freeway built OVER the rails of Grand Avenue between Jefferson and Santa Barbara Boulevards doomed the car lines. Grand Ave was used by the 5-F and 9 lines, but the loss of this track cut off access to Division 5 located at 54th St and Second Avenue.

It was the same dirty tactics that ended PE’s Northern District when a one-mile stretch of Aliso Street was condemned for the Hollywood Freeway construction.

But the long-gone rail service is being vindicated all over greater Los Angeles.

Sixty years after these photos were taken, construction is now under way to return rail service to the EXACT location. The new METRO RAIL – CRENSHAW -LAX rail line will follow the route of the old 5 line for several miles in South West LA.

As a final note to history, after the abandonment of the 5 Line, business at the Chili Dog stand went to hell. Revenues of the penny scale out front of the stand also fell off drastically. The cars had stopped in front of the Chili Dog stand for decades, but the new bus stop was located one block south of the private right-of-way, leaving the Hot Dog stand high and dry.

Within a year, the stand, along with the once profitable penny scale, were history, the last dirty deed of the May 22, 1955 abandonment had been done!

Ralph Cantos Collection

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Showing 5 comments
  • Robert R. Peterson

    I cannot remember the number of times my grand mother and I waited for a streetcar at that location. However, I never had one of the chili dogs from the stand. I do remember that it was always quite busy.

    I worked on the Harbor District of the ATSF in the early 80’s and remember that the car tracks were still in the pavement on two crossings where the car line paralleled the railroad. Maybe they are still visible after all these years.

    • Ralph Cantos

      Robert, I was down that way last week. There are still 5 line rails on the Brynhurst Ave crossing. These rails are just 50 feet from the former Santa Fe rails. When the new construction reaches this point, the 5 line rails may be removed as part of the new METRO RAIL crossing street improvment. These rails have now been out of service 60 years !

      • Robert R. Peterson

        Ralph, Thanks for the information. I did not realize the new light rail line would follow the old right of way of the 5 Line. Although faded over the years, I still have many memories of the 5 line, especially the portion from Jefferson and Grand to Avenue 40. Your commitment to this site helps to keep my fond memories of Los Angeles vivid. Thank you for your work
        Bob Peterson

  • Duncan Still

    Going back further in time, this part of the “5” line was built and operated by the Los Angeles & Redondo.

  • Al Donnelly

    Other photos are calling the turnoff to be at 54th & Crenshaw. Same Magnavox sign up the roadway. What location is correct? BTW..topo maps show that just below the convergence of Liemert and Angelus Mesa (pre-Crenshaw), there was a junction with a short segment that ran back up toward Liemert Park. What was this?

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