PE 656 At Work
By Ralph Cantos
Pacific Electric Hollywood car no. 656 heads up a 2-car morning rush hour train at Vineyard Junction. It’s a cold, overcast February morning, and these World War II Los Angeles commuters will board this train for a smooth and warm trip to downtown LA. The Hollywood cars were just a year or two out of a major rebuilding and modernization that made them attractive and comfortable. They were as good or better in performance as the newest PCCs. The Hollywood cars did the PE proud.
Vineyard Junction was a very busy place on the Western District. It’s difficult to believe now, that in little more than eight years after this photo was taken, all this commuter rail infrastructure would be scrapped and sold for junk in favor of buses, road widening and freeways.
The September 17, 1950, abandonment of the world-famous Venice Short Line marked the real “beginning of the end” for what we knew as the Pacific Electric Railway. From that day in 1950 until April 9, 1961, a vast and viable interurban rail system would virtually disappear as though it never existed.
Today, the West Boulevard bridge still stands, its future uncertain. The bolts that once held up the wood trolley wire guards remain as a reminder of what was once the Pacific Electric that served LA so well in a time of transportation desperation brought on by the Second World War.
Ralph Cantos Collection
The West Blvd Bridge that was built in 1933 now faces an uncertain future. Los Angeles City Engineers are looking at the bridge, but not with any kind of admiring eyes. The City of LA has this bridge on its “hit list.” The City feels that the bridge would not hold up in the event of a 12.5 earthquake, and so it must come down and be replaced by some type of multi-billion new bridge, perhaps something resembling the Vincent Thomas suspension bridge. The City is looking for donations. After the 6th Street bridge is rebuilt, the days for the West Blvd. Bridge will be numbered.
This photo was taken just before the bridge was open to auto traffic. I am not sure, but I think the car is a 1933 Chrysler.