Pacific Electric Hollywood Cars: Doing What They Did Best
By Ralph Cantos
These two photos, taken about ten years and ten thousand miles apart, are remarkably similar in the fact that they both show the fantastic ability of PE’s Hollywood cars to move vast amounts of commuters in “comfort-speed-and-safety.” The photo on the left shows the inaugural rush hour run of the first set of second-hand PE cars in Buenos Aires in early 1953. The photo on the right shows a three-car rush hour train of Hollywood cars at the Subway Terminal in 1943.
In the Buenos Aires photo, the man in the tie looking at the camera is very smug and proud of this train. He must have wondered how those stupid Americans could have let such excellent commuter rail cars slip away. The Hollywood car would serve the commuters of Buenos Aires well into the 1970s.
Back here in Los Angeles as the decades passed, murals of Hollywood cars would dot the landscape as traffic chocked freeways became the norm.
Then in the late 1980s LA City planners finally “bit the bullet” and decided it was time to put the PE back together again — in short, one HELL of a Humpty Dumpty. So now, at a cost of hundreds of billions of our tax dollars, rail service is being restored to areas of Southern California once served by not only the PE Hollywood cars, but rail cars of the LARY / LATL. In every case, the public officials tout the fact that “superior rail service returns once again” One can only wonder if rail service was so good in the first place, WHY THE HELL did LA City officials sit on their asses while the likes of Metropolitan Coach Lines and California Division of Highways (today’s CalTrans) were allowed to destroy the original rail system in the name of “progress.”
Ralph Cantos Collection