Then & Now: streetcars at 6th & Main in downtown Los Angeles



Brian Hsu was gracious enough to allow us to run this Then & Now he ran on his urban diachrony blog.

The top photo is looking north on 6th & Main in 1941 with a streetcar heading out of the Pacific Electric Building — once a major depot in downtown Los Angeles. The bottom photo was taken from the same location in 2012. Three of the big buildings on the east side of the street remain!

Brian has more Then & Nows — check them out here.

If you’ve enjoyed our Then & Now posts, then you are morally obligated to check out the Metro Library’s Historypin page, a sophisticated mapping tool that allows you to overlay historic photos with current street views. It is, trust me, epically cool. Here’s a Source post from last week explaining Historypin; check out the photo from Crenshaw and 60th on Historypin. Very cool.


Photo gallery: streetcars in Los Angeles in the 1940s in glorious black and white

Then & Now: downtown Sierra Madre

Then & Now: In L.A. getting rid of streetcars easier than getting rid of billboards

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

Then & Now: streetcars along the Crenshaw/LAX Line alignment

Then & Now: a streetcar and a bus on Florence Avenue in Inglewood, 1955 and 2013

Photo credits: Top photo from the Metro Transportation Library & Archive Flickr stream. Bottom photo: Brian Hsu.

Calling all transit and history fans! Hundreds more “Then & Now” historic L.A. transit photos available here!

Broadway at 6th

Broadway at 6th Street, 1938 vs. today (Click for more information)

It’s a beautiful thing when Southern Californians take pride in their fascinating and diverse history.  This past weekend the Metro Transportation Library & Archive logged its 3,000,000th view on our online Flickr photo gallery (yes, three million in less than five years).

Over here at The Source, the reaction to “then and now” photos has prompted the Library & Archive to share its own version of historical images compared to the street scene today.

Our Library has selected and uploaded over 200 photos to Historypin, a social media site that maps images and mashes them up with a chronological data layer so you can view photos of a particular place AND time.  With the local transportation conversation ramping up month by month, we know this is a great way to engage our community in the past AND present.

Most of our images on Historypin and concentrated in and near downtown Los Angeles.

Metro Library on Historypin

Zoom in or click a photo cluster to see more detailed photos

Fortunately for us, most of our photos are of streetcars and buses.  Good thing: Historypin has partnered with Google to leverage powerful mapping tools with “street view” imagery.  This serves us well in providing an “augmented reality” effect — superimposing views of yesteryear on the streets of today. We have taken pains to position many our images onto Street View so they match up as well as possible.

Hollywood Boulevard Christmas decorations

Hollywood Boulevard, decorated for Christmas,1953 compared to today (The “fade” slider is below the historic image)

But Historypin isn’t limited to just our collection. Metro is a leader in helping other local archives and libraries in our LA as Subject network to get their photos digitized and onto Historypin.  Los Angeles Public Library’s collection is particularly interesting, as well as other transit agencies, including the wonderful history shared by San Francisco Muni.

Even better, Historypin images feature a slider at the bottom of the photo allowing you to fade in and out the historical image compared to today’s street scene.

When you find an image in our collection (or any other!) with the little yellow man indicating “Street View,” click “Street View” in the bottom right and then slide the “Fade” button below the centered historical image to see the effect.  Get ready to spend hours getting lost in historic Los Angeles…or elsewhere in the world!

1st & Alameda, 1918

Los Angeles Railway “P” Line, 1st Street at Alameda, 1918 with today’s view 95 years later

Historypin is also available as a mobile app, so you can check out historical views of your location wherever you go!

We were a global launch partner for Historypin when we began in July, 2011. But Historypin isn’t limited to just our collection. Metro is a leader in helping other local archives and libraries in our LA as Subject network to get their photos digitized and onto Historypin.  Los Angeles Public Library’s collection is particularly interesting, as well as other transit agencies, including the wonderful history shared by San Francisco Muni.

Still not sure what it is or how it works?  This video provides an overview of the Historypin concept in just over a minute:

Metro Gold Line celebrates 10 years of progress

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On Friday, July 26, 2013, the Metro Gold Line will celebrate 10 years of progress. Only 13.7 miles long at its inception, the Gold Line opened to the public on July 26, 2003, carrying riders from Los Angeles Union Station to Pasadena. The line was initially known as the Pasadena Blue Line. It wasn’t until November 2001, a little more than a year after construction began on the line, that the Metro Board changed the name to the Gold Line.

The Gold Line had more than 4 million boardings in its first year and by 2009 there were more than 7 million annual boardings. With the addition of the six-mile Gold Line Eastside Extension, the light rail line currently carries approximately 13 million boardings annually.

Over its 10-year existence, the Gold Line has carried nearly 81 million riders – about equal to the population of Germany! – and exceeded all expectations. Taking that many people out of cars is equivalent to removing 11,335 cars from the road, or eliminating 112,263 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Not too shabby for 10 years of work.

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One hundred years ago this week: What prompted Los Angeles’ streetcars to change forever?

Incident site near Vineyard Crossing

A little known incident occurred in Los Angeles’ Mid-City area on the evening of July 13, 1913.

When all was said and done, Pacific Electric’s rail network replaced all of its wooden streetcars and implemented automatic train control (a topic still in the news today).

If you had any doubt how extensive our inter-urban transit system was a century ago, consider the fact that Pacific Electric’s “Red Cars” logged than 78 million passenger boardings that year alone. That figure does not include Los Angeles Railway’s extensive “Yellow Car” system.

So what took place that night? The answer lies in the Metro Transportation Library, Archives and Records Management Center’s Primary Resources blog.

Metro Library debuts new interactive timeline and family tree for L.A. transit history

 Metro Library PeoplePlotr

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.

Metro Library TikiToki

20 years ago today: videos of the Red Line’s opening on Jan. 29, 1993

Here are a pair of videos on the opening of the first segment of the Red Line on Jan. 29, 1993 — so 20th century! Thanks to the Metro Transit Library & Archive on digging these up and for all the helpful information on the 20th anniversary of the Metro Red Line.

Please see Dave Sotero’s post earlier today on the big anniversary. There are a lot of interesting factoids about the original project along with a great photo gallery and more video.

50 years ago today: A preview of “magic-eye” fare-readers and a subway to Westwood

Today is the 50th anniversary of one of the most important speeches in local transit history.

Rendering of rail to Century City

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.