Los Angeles Icons: City Hall and the PCC

Ralph Cantos Collection

Ralph Cantos Collection

By Ralph Cantos

From 1953 until 1958, and for endless decades of reruns, Los Angeles City Hall was know to millions of people around the world as “The Daily Planet Building” in the fictional city of Metropolis.

Along with the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the US Capitol Building in Washington DC, LA City Hall is known the world over.

The Adventures of Superman was just one of many appearances LA City Hall has made on both the small and large screens. It was blown to pieces in the 1953 movie War Of The Worlds.

What better way to show off this iconic building in a tourist postcard then to have a “state of the art,” world-class transit vehicle to pose front and center in the classic photographic composition?

Taken sometime around 1956, an unidentified LATL P-3 all-electric waits for the green light and its chance to accelerate away at a pace that will leave most of the autos in this setting, “in the dust.” Unlike the LARY-ordered prewar PCCs that were “stripped to the bone” of available accessories such as rear marker lights, heaters, window shades, and crank window lifts, the LATL ordered P-3s were deluxe in every way. They were “fully loaded.”

And so just moments after this photo was taken, the P-3 will dash off to the East end of the P-line and into history. Who would ever have believed at the time, that just 7 years later, an inferior, non-descript GM bus will dominate this very same location, and these Cadillacs of city rail transit will be sold off to a fourth-world country?

Ralph Cantos Collection

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Showing 5 comments
  • Bob Davis

    Some years ago I took my wife’s cousin for a ride on the Gold Line. We transferred to the Red line and got off at Civic Center so I could show him Disney Hall and other downtown sights. At one point we had a clear view of City Hall, and he intoned “Dum Da Dum Dum”–the intro to Dragnet. “This is the city…”

  • Larry Blodget

    Hi Ralph – I’ve really come to appreciate your dedicated research and appreciation of Los Angeles in its better days! Gawd, how I remember you always had so much fascinating information, and that you’re still actively enjoying it all… congratulations!

    • Ralph Cantos

      Hi Larry. are you the same Larry that I knew from the Fab.50’s FORD Club ?? Ralph

  • Al Donnelly

    Is that a civil defense siren on top of the traffic signal (left)? Preparations for the invasion of the flying saucers?

  • Jason Houston

    Hi, Ralph: Yep – same one. So glad you’re still among us, and keeping The Great Stuff alive! Larry

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