Friday, February 26, 2016

The Tracks are Back!

Metro Expo Train in Santa Monica. Photo by Irfan Kahn, L.A. Times

The Metro Expo Line will begin service to the City of Santa Monica on May 20, 2016. Yippee! The train will run down the tracks closest to Exposition Boulevard, then swing diagonally north toward Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica, with the last stop just blocks from the Santa Monica Pier. This makes me very happy. I will be able to take the train from our home in Mid-City Los Angeles to my office near 26th and Broadway at least a few times a week.
The tracks for the Expo Line once were the Pacific Electric Railroad tracks. The Red Car ran along these tracks, as well as other tracks throughout suburban Los Angeles from 1901 through 1961. The final freight run on these tracks was in 1988 from Fisher Lumber at the corner of Lincoln and Colorado in Santa Monica. Fisher Lumber is still there.
Click on photo to make larger

I have friends who lived in the Rancho Park area of Los Angeles, just south of Exposition Boulevard near Overland Avenue in the 1980s. The tracks ran behind their house. Once in awhile you would hear the clang of the bells and the freight trains rumbling down the tracks. Eventually, after 1988, the land around those WLA tracks was used for parking lots and temporary businesses. An entire art gallery colony sprung up in the abandoned train yards at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.  
Red Car Trolley at Venice & Robertson, 1953

I vaguely remember the Red Car Trolley running down Venice Boulevard when I was a VERY small child. I was amazed to see this big red train in the center of the street with these sparking wires attached! You will notice that there are many wide medians in the center of major streets in Los Angeles. At one time, these were probably tracks for the trolley.
Most of the old red cars were scrapped. Some were saved. Here is a photo from 1953 of F.H. Markley, Superintendent of Rail Equipment at the Pacific Electric Company as he makes one last test of a car to be hauled to Travel Town in Griffith Park.

Herald Examiner Photo Collection, 1953. Red Car moves to Travel Town, Griffith Park
I look forward to riding the Metro Train westbound!

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At 8:19 AM PST, Blogger Harry Mcarthur said...

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At 11:17 AM PST, Blogger ken bloom said...

I clearly remember trolly cars going down Santa Monica Blvd when I was a kid. By the time I was in high school we road the bus down to the beach. The trollys weren't running any more. For someone like me, much of California is unrecognizable now. Thanks for putting these photos up Ell. Brings back some very pleaant memories.

At 11:19 AM PST, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Next time you visit L.A., Ken, we'll have to take a Metro Train ride!


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