The Metro Transportation Library & Archive is participating in a landmark joint exhibit of the Getty Museum and Getty Research Institute.
Overdrive: L.A. Constructs The Future, 1940-1990, which runs from April 9 through July 21, 2013, is part of Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture In L.A.
The exhibit is the first major exhibition to survey Los Angeles’ complex urban landscape and diverse architectural innovations. Drawings, photographs, models, films, animations, oral histories and ephemera illustrate the complex dimensions of L.A.’s rich and often underappreciated built environment.
Library & Archive staff has been working with the Getty for the past year in preparation for this exhibit. Several historic items from the Archive have been lent to the Getty for display, along with additional items for the exhibit catalog publication as well as film footage that runs in the Overdrive exhibit.
The exhibit moves on to the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. later this year.
More information on the exhibit and Metro’s contributions to it can be found on the Research Library’s Primary Resources Blog.
Very few people likely remember when “The Big One” struck the Los Angeles area. Not an earthquake, but a storm against which all others are measured.
In the first week of March, 1938, an already wet winter was capped off by a deluge previously unseen in the area.
More than 11 inches of rain in downtown Los Angeles (and more than 30 inches at Lake Arrowhead) washed out countless roads and bridges, as well as streetcar and rail lines.
For a short time, Los Angeles was even cut off from the outside world and the damage was the final straw for proponents of flood control on the Los Angeles River.
The full story is over at the Metro Library's Primary Resources blog with links to numerous photos, maps and stories in a 1938 publication from the California Department of Highways and Public Works.
The Metro Transportation Library & Archive have been hard at work producing two new tools that explain Los Angeles transit history dating back to 1874.
This week, the Library unveils an interactive timeline allowing users to better understand the 140-year evolution of local transit from numerous private street railroads into publicly-governed agencies.
Earlier this month, the timeline was chosen from the 100,000 TikiToki timelines developed so far to be the inaugural “featured timeline” on the TikiToki Blog.
A complementary tool serves as a “family tree” organization chart, explaining the complex history and relationships of Metro’s predecessor agencies.
The images above and below are linked to these new resources. More information on how to use these tools can be found at the Library’s Primary Resources blog.
Today is the 50th anniversary of one of the most important speeches in local transit history.
Rendering for proposed rail to Century City
It involved a 1963 vision for the future of local transportation that even included TAP-like “magic eye” machine-readable fare media…and a subway to Westwood by 1968 by the Executive Director of Los Angeles’ first MTA.
Smart-card fare collection and subterranean transit to the Westside obviously would not come to fruition for decades.
But the inability of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMTA) to levy taxes and its Board to build broad public support or acquire real property through eminent domain set the stage for the creation of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, in 1964.
The speech was part of ”Rail Rapid Transit: A Reality,” a proposal for ”a new 58-mile regional rapid transit system” to begin construction by 1964.
Ironically, it proposed four corridors for transit — to Long Beach, North Hollywood, El Monte and West Los Angeles — all of which were eventually constructed through public support and funds (with West L.A. on the way).
The speech is a fascinating look back at the future of transit as forseen in 1963. The full text of it can be found on the Metro Library’s Primary Resources Blog.
Transit and transportation planning, construction and operations must take into account numerous interdisciplinary fields.
These include urban planning, geology, law, sociology, demographics, engineering, hydrology, sustainability, cartography, history and other disciplines.
Metro’s Library & Archive collects, preserves and provides access to a wealth of information related to these subjects. Perhaps surprising to some, paleontology also intersects with transit.
Local subway tunneling has yielded a wealth of fossils which have shed light on prehistoric Los Angeles.
Mastodons on the Red Line?
The Library’s Primary Resources Blog takes a closer look at the fossils found through subway construction and how they give us a better idea of what L.A. looked like millions of years ago
Check it out here.
The Olympics may be coming to a close in London, but the Metro Library’s Primary Resources Blog is serving up a local double-header of Olympics history.
Back in 1932, Los Angeles welcomed the world to a much smaller affair during the Great Depression. (Only 1,500 athletes from 37 nations took part, with the Olympic Village in Baldwin Hills).
The Metro Library’s Primary Resources blog explores in depth how the the city moved athletes and spectators around 80 years ago — when L.A. was criss-crossed by the streetcars and interurban rail lines of one of the largest transit systems on the planet.
Fast forward a half-century: Los Angeles welcomes the world back, despite that rail system having been completely dismantled for more than two decades.
How did Los Angeles transport athletes, spectators and millions of local residents through the first Olympics staged in a city without a rapid transit system since 1960?
Primary Resources takes an extensive look at how L.A. managed to pull off a Olympic-sized feat in 1984, greatly reducing traffic and smog throughout the region thanks to a comprehensive transportation plan built entirely around a fleet of buses.
This past weekend, the Metro Transportation Library & Archive logged its 2,000,000th view of its online Flickr photo collection.
Since launching less than four years ago, the Library has become a national leader in the early adoption of social media, including resource sharing such as Flickr.
The collection now numbers more than 8,000 and spans all of Metro’s predecessor agencies dating back to the 1870s.
This post explains the value of providing digital access to our transportation legacy and highlights some of the more recent additions to the collection, many of which have never been seen before.
They include early 20th century views of the Mount Lowe Railway, renderings from early Metro Rail planning (anyone for overhead rail lines through Hollywood?), Los Angeles’ 1970′s exploration of People Mover personal rapid transit, opening day for the Cahuenga Pass Freeway in 1940, and much more.
The entire story and links to the images can be found at the Library’s Primary Resources blog.
Bus rapid transit in Los Angeles began with the El Monte Busway, which broke ground 40 years ago this week.
Today BRT in L.A. has expanded to several other transportation corridors, but this is the original, the grand-daddy of them all: The first multi-modal system in California and the first dedicated BRT station in the world.
While some things have changed (the draft environmental impact statement was only 17 pages long, and the El Monte Busway is now part of Silver Line service), the busway is as popular as ever.
Forty years later, daily ridership has grown from 12,000 to an estimated 40,000 as new terminals are planned for both El Monte and downtown Los Angeles.
The story and images of this historic transit line are up on the Metro Library’s Primary Resources Blog.
Plans for a Westside subway go back — way back.
On January 12, 1962, ground test drilling for the subway portion of the proposed Backbone Route between downtown and yet-to-be-built Century City got underway.
Governor Pat Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ernest E. Debs were all on hand.
Two weeks later, Beverly Hills Mayor Jack Freeman oversaw groundbreaking for soil tests near Wilshire Boulevard and Linden Drive.
The subway was obviously never constructed, so head on over to the Metro Library’s Primary Resources Blog to find out why — and discover the related nuclear fallout shelter plan and large-capacity helicopters that were on the drawing board as well.
Saturday marks one of the more interesting anniversaries in local transportation history. Forty-nine years ago this weekend, C.M. Gilliss, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority, outlined his plan for comprehensive rapid transit in L.A. at the downtown Statler-Hilton Hotel.
His vision included individually-coded credit cards, “magic-eye” fare computers, rail cars with 1960s tailfins bound for planned and soon-to-be-built Century City, and a system reaching all the way to Westwood…to be completed by January, 1968.
The fascinating story, complete with rail station and other futuristic renderings, unfolds on the Metro Library’s Primary Resources blog.