50 Years Ago: Last Evening of Operation, March 31, 1963

Bruce Ward Photo, Bruce Ward Collection

Bruce Ward Photo, Bruce Ward Collection

A moody, somber image by Bruce Ward captures the pathos of the last evening of operation of streetcars in the city of Los Angeles, March 31, 1963, as the Metropolitan Transit Authority (the predecessor to today’s MTA) prepares to shut down the entire remaining rail system. Here, MTA PCC no. 3155 rests at 7th and Broadway on the P Line as the motorman and a passenger stare out the windshield toward Bruce’s direction.

Bruce Ward Photo, Bruce Ward Collection

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Showing 5 comments
  • Steve Crise

    Note the bus in the background barking at the heels of the trolley.
    Removal and the subsequent dismantling of the remaining electric lines was an incredile short-sighted decision by our civic leaders.
    Makes you wonder, doesn’t it.

    • Ralph Cantos

      When you look at the EXCELLENT condition of the #3155, you have to give the MTA (Many Trolley Abandonments) credit for one thing , they kept up the excellent maintainence program of predecessor LATL (National City Lines). On the bad side, the LAMTA just picked up the relentless march to do away with all electric powered transit in Los Angeles. No one at the first LAMTA had anything to do with public transit. Those in charge like Martin Pallard, owned and operated a Chevrolet dealership in the San Fernando Valley. A.J. Eyraud owned trucking companies and had interests in small bus operations. Max Gilliss had personal interests in highway construction. Walter Briggs owned parking lots in the LA area. Mark Boyar was a big real estate delevoper. These were the socalled “experts” that made up the the first LAMTA. Can anyone out there tell me just who the HELL put these “experts” in charge of LA’s transpotation needs. Talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house, here we had the FOX INCHARGE OF THE DAMN BARN YARD!!!!! I often wondered if real estate delevoper Mark Boyar had anything to do with the sale of the Division #20 PCC storage yard. I am sure that when the PCC’s arrived in Cario, transit officials there looke st the A-1 condition of the cars, looked at one another and said aloud “what the Hell is wroug with those stupid Americans”

  • Mike Marincovich

    Along with the first two comments, another thing that helped with the demise of the PE was the fresh styling of cars starting in the mid 50’s-notice the 1955 Chevy Bel Air two door hard top parked in front of the Gallenkamp shoe store. Too bad that the leaders back in the day couldn’t see a future with cars and the PE coexisting side by side.

  • Bob Davis

    We should also remember that the 55 Chevy in the photo was 8 years old at the time, and may have been on its second or third owner by then. Each successive owner would be taking advantage of the depreciation and paying far less than the new car price. In those days, one could buy a serviceable used car for a few hundred bucks, fill the tank and have change left over from a five-dollar bill, and never worry about passing a smog check.

  • Bernard Samstag

    Shortly after the date on the picture I worked the late shift at The Times and sat briefly in my parked Ford Falcon on Spring Street just a few feet north of First Street. I watched as men atop the Big Bertha truck reached up and pulled down the wires that were the life blood of the Pico line. I did not realize that I was watching the end of an era. The following years were punctuated by eye-stinging smog created by the gasoline-driven vehicles that replaced the smooth, efficient, quiet, comfortable electric streetcars. And now, years later, some of what we once had is coming back . . . at greatly enhanced COST.

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