PCC on Brand Boulevard in 1955
A photo postcard from 1955 depicting a Pacific Electric PCC on Brand Boulevard in Glendale.
From Ralph Cantos:
955 POST CARD of Beautiful Brand Blvd. GLENDALE, CALIFORNIA: A city. any city, is only as great as the rail system that serves it! Glendale WAS such a great city until June 19,1955. On the black day, Glendale went from being a great city , to just being another town without a commuter rail service. The populace of Glendale lost one of the finest rail lines in the entire State Of California. Any city that is worth a damn, usually warrants electric rail transportation. So important was the Glendale / Burbank line, that the Pacific Electric spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade the infrastructure of the line in early 1940. The massive amount of private capital that PE pored into the Glendale / Burbank was done to prepare the line for the arrival of the most revolutionary PCC streetcars that were to grace the rails of ANY city in America. PE’s PCC cars were the first double enders, the first multiple unit. and the longest PCC car built up to that time. And if I am not mistaking, they were the first PCC to be equipped with Westinghouse dual trumpet air horns. In my opinion, the PE PCC’s WERE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PCC car, the world would ever see. The stage was now set for the Glendale / Burbank to operate for 50 years efficiently, with magnificent infrastructure and ultramodern streamlined PCC equipment. But because of selfish , greedy, backward thinking individuals who did not give a DAMN about anyone but them self’s, the Glendale / Burbank Line was struck down and demolished literately in its prime. It was an inexcusable act of SELFISH GREED.
I spoke to the man who produced this post card. It was taken in April of 1955. The Line had just weeks to live. He wanted to record Glendale’s Brand Blvd. on film, before its downfall . HE WAS NOT A RAIL FAN. He was a concerned citizen. He was in disbelief that the abandonment petition had been granted. He waited until a PE PCC came into view and recorded the last great moments of Brand Blvd. In his opinion. this abandonment was A MONUMENTAL ACT OF VANDALISM, as the years pasted, he would be proven correct.
Ralph Cantos Collection
Thanks for the wonderful commentary on the Glendale/Burbank line. I was born and raised in Glendale and was 10 years old on that awful day in 1955. I think it was the greatest rail ride in southern California, down Glenoaks and Brand Blvd, over the LA River on that scary bridge, thru the hills, past Echo Park and into the subway. What a trip!! When that line ended so did my mother’s shopping trips to downtown LA. The driving and parking was terrible and the bus ride even worse.
In total agreement.
I believe this is the corner of Brand and Wilson. I grew up on Wilson St. and would go to the Woolworths on the corner to buy my army men. Also, notice the Alex Theater. It’s the tall sphere with the ball on top. Great photo.
I was a senior at Hoover when this was taken. So many memories of taking the RedCar to Los Angeles with my Mother and Grandmother as a child and preteen. To live in Glendale when it was so wonderful and have access to everything in Los Angeles through the trolley……….what can I say – it was a great time to grow up.
I agree with what Mr. Cantos has written regarding the greed of the ownership and management of the LA transit properties as they eliminated rail services. In addition, rail service was also torpedoed by the local politicians. These politicians somehow believed that trolleys were anachronisms. They wanted their cities to have a modern image, and they equated a modern and progressive image with buses, traffic signals, and parking lots. I imagine the bus salesmen and the traffic signal salesmen put in a lot of effort to influence these politicians, the politicians pressured the transit companies to remove the trolleys, and the trolleys were removed as a result.
One other factor worked against trolleys. I recall that in LA in the mid-1950’s, an ethnic newspaper complained that LATL discriminated against their people by operating older trolleys in their neighborhood (specifically, the LATL H-4’s operating on the “S” line). They wondered why their neighborhood was served by these older trolleys while other neighborhoods with other ethnicities were served by the more modern PCC’s or buses.
We can wonder how these politicians and newspaper editors might think once they experienced traffic congestion and the air pollution caused by the “modern” buses? (Anybody recall sitting behind a GMC bus and ingesting the smelly exhaust? Did your eyes water?)
For anyone who is interested in General Motors Bus propaganda films, go to YOU TUBE -enter: General Motors film “Lets Go to Town” and “Give Yourself The Greel Light”. Here is bus and highway,anti rail “BS”, and the city planers ate it up.
If you want to see a more rail transit friendly film produced by General Electric in 1952, go to You Tube enter: General Electric film “Going Places-1952” some nice shots of PCCs encluding LATL P-3 leaving Rimpau Loop
What a great picture! Like onlyonejudy I too was a senior in high school back in 1955. The photo brought back good memories of growing up in Glendale and Burbank in the 40’s and 50’s and many trolley rides.
On photo page “J” , in Perry & Parcher’s Glendale Area History 1974, there are two photos to compare 1912 (PE r.o.way) and 1974(center median) on Brand Boulevard. Penny’s has moved across the street before the 70’s (I remember getting clothes there). In my own collection, there is another postcard of the very corner above with Woolworth’s still there in about the 60’s. Kress stayed on, but the opening of the nearby big Kmart may have brought its closure in the early to mid 70’s. Didn’t take long for everything to change with the Galleria-era coming on.
And it wasn’t just the busses propagandized by General Motors. During WWII, after the government decrees in 1942 over prioritizing the useage of materials for the war effort, GM was printing literature favorable to diesel locomotive technology. (So much for paper drives for the nation!) This has always been a sore point as GM was positioning to kill off steam along with several other old locomotive builders who were their competition. Arguments about effiiciency, power, and what not don’t ever seem to mention the fact that diesel fumes gave cancers and other ailments to hoards of the members of train crews and its still playing out…something GM never put in their pretty brochures. Probably should rename themselves General Morgue.