Then & Now: a streetcar and a bus in Highland Park, 1955 and 2013

Photo by Alan Weeks, via Metro Transportation Library & Archive's Flickr stream.

Photo by Alan Weeks, via Metro Transportation Library & Archive’s Flickr stream.

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Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The top photo was taken in the afternoon on May 21, 1955, by Alan Weeks at the corner of Avenue 61 and Monte Vista in Highland Park (or Mount Angelus). I took the bottom photo last Friday, Aug. 16th, in the afternoon trying to match the telephone pole shadow in the bottom left of the 1955 photo.

Yes, I’m that much of a geek.

Very little has changed. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power substation is obviously still there. The telephone poles are mostly still there. The stop sign and street sign got an upgrade or downgrade depending on your love of old signs. The Mount Angelus sign is also a new addition.

The brick street has been paved over. My hunch is that given the decades between paving in the city of L.A., the brick isn’t that far below the asphalt.

There is no tree shadow at bottom right in 1955; the tree was either planted or has grown considerably judging by the shadow in 2013. The bus these days takes a wider turn than the streetcar did in 1955, making for an additional challenge in getting matching photographs.

The small sliver of building that can be seen in the right part of the frame is still there, now a different color and the awnings and businesses are gone:

Photo by Alan Weeks, via the Metro Transportation Library & Archive's Flickr stream.

Photo by Alan Weeks, via the Metro Transportation Library & Archive’s Flickr stream.

The building at right as seen last week in this iPhone pic. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The building at right as seen last week in this iPhone pic. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Bottom line: Highland Park, like many other parts of the Los Angeles area, is the land that time has forgot. 

About the photography

Alan Weeks, 81, is a retired transit scheduler for the RTD and the MTA. He is still shooting transit photographs — lately he’s been documenting construction of the Gold Line Foothill Extension project. Many of his photos can be seen on the Metro Transportation Library & Archive’s Flickr stream.

Alan used a 35mm SLR in the 1950s with a 50mm Zeiss lens and Kodachrome slide film. Kodachrome is no longer manufactured or processed.

I shot today’s photo with a Nikon D5100 digital SLR with a 35mm lens — which on my cropped frame camera (i.e. the sensor is 24mm wide) is almost equivalent to a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera. Even with computer-aided processing, recapturing the wonderful colors and crispness of Kodachrome is nearly impossible.

For this photo, I used the Visual Supply Company’s slide presets presets for Adobe Lightroom, specifically the Kodak 100G preset with many smaller adjustments. The processing helps the digital look more film-like but it pales in comparison to the simple slide film technology of the 1950s.

RELATED:

Two photos of Florence Avenue: a streetcar in 1955 and a bus this afternoon 

Then & Now: streetcars along the Crenshaw/LAX Line alignment in the 1950s and those places today

12 replies

  1. Wonderful photo(s), excellent work with the “exact” timing of the telephone pole shadow. I love stuff like this. I can not stop going back and forth to compare the differences and the “still the same.” I am 38 years old, moved to L.A. (Burbank) in 1978 from Adena Ohio. I must add that I have a huge addiction to Adam-12 and Chips so I can see L.A.’s past. The really sad thing is the bars in the windows of the 2013 picture, which is common in today’s Highland Park homes and businesses. Thank you so much, I will now take a gander at your other “art.”

  2. Just a guess but the bricks in the street may have been where people got on and off the streetcar. Consequently, they may indeed be gone.

  3. Interesting how in these photos and the earlier sets you see happy pedestrians as well as motorists sharing the road with the streetcars. Some rail obstructionists claim that this is impossible.

  4. Great series Steve I also grew up in the central part of Los Angeles Mid Wilshire district Arlington Heights area.I want to know extremely more on the Washington Blvd Route 12 and did it run out of the same bus divisions as Venice Blvd Pico Blvd Route 28. The Wilshire line number 20 all the way up to Hollywood Blvd see iam also a history buff on transportatiin especially in southern California when it was southern California rapid transit district RTD. MTA and what division did route 5 now number 40 work out of I use to also take extremely that one a lot to Hawthorne plaza in Hawthorne and when did limited bus service start it would be great to get an old bus schedules from routes 28 40 30 33 after they changed the numbers in 83 as well as before. Email me at jamietaramore@yahoo.ca to send that info thanks

  5. I’ve never seen a detailed street map showing exactly where streetcars once ran. I’m often on a wide street and wonder if tracks once ran there.

  6. Go to Pacific Electric Railway
    Historical Society(PERYHS.ORG)website.
    Or type “Yellow Car” L.A.rwy map.