Photos of the Expo Line through history

Santa Monica Railway Station, Los Angeles & Independence Railroad, 1880. Photo: Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Today’s Expo Line has its origins in a railroad between Los Angeles and Santa Monica that went into service in 1875. The Los Angeles & Independence Railroad later became the Air Line, the direct ancestor of the Expo Line.

The Los Angeles & Independence was sold in 1877 to the Southern Pacific, which built a half-mile wharf north of Santa Monica Canyon to provide ships with a place to unload their freight. At this point the Los Angeles & Independence Railroad became an important freight and passenger rail line.

The following photos show the rail line in its many incarnations over the decades.

Los Angeles & Independence Railroad Terminal at Fifth Street and San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, 1895. Photo courtesy of University of Southern California, on behalf of the USC Special Collections.

 

Santa Monica Long Wharf, Los Angeles & Independence Railroad, late 19th Century. Once a breakwater was built in San Pedro, freight ports in Redondo Beach and the Long Wharf were pretty much doomed. Photo: Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

 

Map from 1912 of the Pacific Electric Railway. The Air Line, the forerunner to Expo, is highlighted in blue. In 1908, Southern Pacific leased the railroad line and the wharf to Los Angeles Pacific, which electrified the portion between Sentous -- east of Culver City -- and the Long Wharf. The remainder of the line was electrified three years later. Photo: Special Collections, UCLA's Young Research Library.

 

Santa Monica Air Line, 1940. Photo via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Jim Stubchaer took this photo looking over the motorman's shoulder while riding the Air Line in the late 1940s. Photo courtesy Jim Stubchaer; click on the photo to visit his website.

 

 

 

This was a fan trip taken along the Santa Monica Air Line in 1950. Photo by Alan Weeks, via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

 

A Pacific Electric car in Culver City in 1950. Photo via Metro Library and Transportation Archive.

 

Air Line Excursion Car 5028 heading east on Exposition Boulevard in front of USC in 1953. Photo by Alan Weeks, via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

 

Westbound Santa Monica Air Line at Jefferson & Main Street in 1953. The above photo was taken on a part of the alignment no longer being used by trains -- it's east of the 110 freeway and the old right-of-way can clearly be seen on Google Maps. Photo by Alan Weeks via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

 

The Santa Monica Air Line, near Crenshaw Boulevard in 1953. Photo by Alan Weeks, via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

 

The Pacific Electric on part of the alignment that will be used in the second phase of the Expo Line between Culver City and Santa Monica. Photo courtesy of Friends 4 Expo Transit.

 

A freight train at Venice and Robertson in the 1980s; the line was abandoned shortly thereafter. Photo by Darrell Clarke, via Expo Line's Facebook page.

 

In 1991, transit officials proposed an electrified busway for the then unused Exposition rail right-of-way. Second from right is Art Leahy, now Metro's CEO. The busway never happened and activists continued to push for light rail along the right-of-way. Photo by Alan Weeks via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

 

Alternatives considered in a 2000 study on transit options in the Expo Line area. Light rail along the old rail right-of-way eventually prevailed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The old tracks at 2nd Avenue -- obviously before construction began. Photo by Darrell Clarke, via Expo Line's Facebook page.

 

 

This is what the alignment looked like in 2007 near La Cienega -- at this point it had been 20 years since freight trains used the tracks. Photo by Alan Weeks via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

Work on the La Cienega station in August, 2010. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Night-time work on the junction at Washington and Flower where the Blue Line and Expo Line tracks converge. Photo by Expo Line Construction Authority.

 

Another view of work on the junction in 2010. Photo by Expo Line Construction Authority.

A great view of the new rail bridge over Ballona Creek, just west of the La Cienega/Jefferson station. Photo by Darrell Clarke, via Expo Line's Facebook page.

 

 

Clearance testing along Flower Street in 2011. Photo by Alan Weeks, via Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announces the opening of the Expo Line on the La Cienega/Jefferson platform last month. Photo by Metro.

An Expo train at La Cienega/Jefferson station with the downtown L.A. skyline in the distance. On clear days, the platform at La Cienega and La Brea offer views of Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriel Mountains. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Elevated portion of the Expo Line, Culver City. Photo by Joel Epstein/Metro.

A rendering of the Expo Phase 2 tracks in the trench just east of Overland Avenue. Phase 2 is now under construction and has a completion date of late 2015. Rendering: Expo Line Construction Authority.

10 thoughts on “Photos of the Expo Line through history

  1. I grew up here so I can’t wait to share this ride with my friends. Be so nice if you guys bring back the old cars like those that now run on the “F Market” in San Francisco

  2. The black-and-white photographs show that the predecessor rail lines had only a SINGLE track for running trains in both directions! Interestingly, this original right-of-way easily accommodates TWO tracks for the Expo Line!

  3. What is the exact time the ExpoLine will be open to the public on the 28th?

  4. Does the Expo Line leave Union station? When you get to the last stop, what connection would someone make to get to Sepulveda and Wilshire to get to the Federal Building?

  5. Bruce
    Nobody has answered your questions from the 25th so here are some answers. From Union Station you will have to take the subway to 7th St /Metro Center where you can change to Expo. At the last stop of Expo, for now, the best way to the Federal Building would be to take the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Line 12 heading for UCLA / Westwood and get off at Westwood and Wilshire and walk a few blocks west. Hope this helps.
    Larr

  6. OOPS. Got ahead of myself and realized maybe you meant the last station which for now is at La Cienega. The directions I just posted wont work until Culver City opens. For now you would exit Expo at La Cienega and take the 105 or 705 north on La Cienega to Wilshire and then change to the 20 or 720. Exit at Westwood and walk a few blocks west.

  7. Very nice article. My grampa and me love it. Cannot wait for tomorrow. Nick N.

  8. Pingback: Expo Line grand opening at noon hour on Friday | LA News Talk Radio

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