Two Los Angeles Icons
By Ralph Cantos
Several great cities in North America, 27 of them to be exact, had one thing in common: state of the art city rail transportation – the PCC streetcar!
Los Angeles was the 4th city in America to join the “PCC PARADE OF PROGRESS” in March 1937. Always in the forefront of street railways latest developments, the Los Angeles Railway along with the City was very proud to be host to the “latest thing on rails.” What better way to show off this new asset in urban transit, but to showcase a PCC on the main boulevard of this great city? From 1937 until the outbreak of World War II, many post cards, both black & white and color, always included a Los Angeles Railway PCC gliding up or down Broadway.
In this 1938 post card, a new LARY PCC rolls south bound on Broadway at 9th Street against the back drop of one of the most beautiful buildings in LA. The Eastern Columbia Department Store. Any person listening to a radio in LA during the 1940s-50s and early 60s will recall with fondness the jingle “Eastern Columbia, Broadway at Ninth.” That slogan was right up there with “Coast Federal Savings, 9th and Hill on the ground floor.”
LARY PCCs would be a part of the LA cityscape for 35 years. In later years, color postcards featured LATL P-3 all-electrics, showing the world that LA was still a high water mark in city transportation. All of LA’s world class city rail transit came to an end, first in 1955 when MCL scuttled the Glendale — Burbank Line and its revolutionary MU PCCs — and later in 1963 with the premature retirement of the finest street railway system in America and its PCCs. From that sad day until the opening of the METRO BLUE LINE, LA was just another dusty hick town with hordes of buses providing inferior transportation to a traffic-choked city.
Ralph Cantos Collection
It would be interesting to go back in time and interview the LARy passengers whose lines didn’t get PCCs, but were still running cars with wooden seats and solid iron wheels that were in service when Henry Ford rolled out his first Model T.
Oh, I thought the second icon was the United Artists building that is seen holding up the Texaco sign.
I used to ride the “A” line getting on at west blvd and Adams. Very disappointed in having to continue to ride the old cars whereas the lucky ones lived near pico. Occasionally I would walk all the way up west blvd to watch the P.E. Venice/San Vicente action from the viaduct and then continue on thru sears to the pico/rimpau terminal to be able to ride the “Streamliner” into downtown.
Anyone old enough to remember -“Eastern Columbia, Broadway at 9th” on the radio? Eastern Columbia is the green bldg. left center. Is it still there? Is it still green?
Next time I’ll read the caption b-4 opening my mouth
Ralph, I’m still with ya buddy!
This beautiful building has been converted into high end apartments and condos. There is an out door swimming pool on the roof just below the big clock.
Not only do I remember “Eastern Columbia Broadway at Ninth” on the radio, the waiting bench at the PE stop on the other side of the fence from our house (at 5th Ave. on the Monrovia-Glendora Line) was painted turquoise and had an ad for Eastern Columbia.
The Eastern Columbia jingle has been stuck in my brain for decades. I remember it started, “Tick tock, tick tock, the mouse ran up the clock,” or something like that. And then it ended with “Eastern Columbia, Broadway at Ninth, Eastern Columbia, Broadway at Ninth.” The ad agency certainly created a memorable jingle. The other one that is embedded in my mind began, “Muller Brothers Oldsmobile on Sunset Boulevard” and it ended “Again and again, rely on the men who put Hollywood on wheels, they put Hollywood on wheels” and then that iconic horn sound “da da da dah.”