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.

Preview of October Service Council meetings

As we roll into fall (and isn’t it hard to believe it is already October), a new round of Service Council meetings are upon us. As usual, this month’s Council meetings begin in Van Nuys with the San Fernando Valley Service Council meeting on Wednesday, October 2. Please note that some of the presentations listed below are tentative at the time of this posting.

All October Service Council meetings will include a presentation on Metro’s Annual Customer Satisfaction On-Board Survey, and a report from Metro Service Council Director Jon Hillmer providing statistics on August ridership, performance and other measures of Metro service. Other agenda items at Council meetings include:

San Fernando Valley (6:30 pm, Wednesday, 10/2) – Report on Sepulveda Pass Bus Test Trip; Report on Proposed Minor December ’13 Service Changes (Lines 167 & 239).

Westside/Central (5 pm, Wednesday, 109) – Report on Proposed Minor December ’13 Service Changes (Lines 60, 83, 217, 256, 720, 760); Westside Region’s Corridor Study Update.

Gateway Cities (2 pm, Thursday, 10/10) – Swearing in of new Gateway Cities Service Councilmember Aja Brown, Mayor of Compton; Update on Gate Latching and ADA Access Issues; Report on Proposed Minor December ’13 Service Changes (Lines 60, 102, 105, 117, 120, 577, 760); Approval of Semiannual Evening Gateway Cities Service Council Meetings.

South Bay (9:30 am, Friday, 10/11) – Update on Gate Latching and ADA Access Issues; Report on ExpressLanes; Update on the Restoration of Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station Signage and Announcements.

San Gabriel Valley (5 pm, Monday, 10/14) – Update on Line 485 Regional Meeting (December); Presentation on Metro’s Service Change Process; Report on Proposed Minor December ’13 Service Changes (Lines 83, 256, 577); Approval to Reschedule or Cancel November 11, 2013 San Gabriel Valley Service Council meeting due to conflict with Veteran’s Day. The Director’s report will also include information on customer complaint types and a response to a request from last month’s meeting regarding Veteran’s fare programs.

For a detailed listing of all Council meeting dates, times and locations, click here. As always, the public is encouraged to attend and share their comments with the Service Councils on improving bus service throughout LA County. If you would like to provide input to a Council but cannot attend a meeting, you can submit your comments in writing through the Service Council web page or send them by email. If your comments are for a specific Council, please make sure to indicate which one you are addressing in your e-mail.

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

I had the pleasure of lunching earlier this week with Alan Weeks, the retired Metro employee who literally shot thousands of photos of the Los Angeles streetcar scene in the 1940s, ’50s and early ’60s.

Alan sent me the above collection of black and white photos the other day, most of them shot in 1948 and 1949. I definitely see a few “Then & Now” possibilities in the photos and I encourage you to give it a crack if interested and share with us via our Twitter page. Or if you manage to duplicate one of Alan’s shots, email me and maybe I’ll feature it on the blog.

His collection has gone a long way to helping all of us either remember or comprehend the vastness of the streetcar network which vanished for good in 1963 after a long decline. “At the time, there was a lot of us who never thought we’d see rail transit in this area again,” Alan said. “It seemed like everyone wanted a house, two cars in the driveway and a swimming pool.”

Alan is now busy on two fronts: documenting rail’s comeback in the area with construction of the Expo Line’s second phase and the Gold Line Foothill Extension. And he’s still plugging away, digitizing many of his old photographs and slides. Many of Alan’s photos can also be seen on the Metro Transportation Library & Archive’s Flickr page.


Metro Library’s Historypin page (it overlays historic photos with current street views) and post explaining Historypin

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



Metro’s 2013 Bus Roadeo winners

The 38th Metro Bus Roadeo finals took place this past Saturday, and the winning bus operator, Juan Navarro, hails from Division 3. By coming in first, Navarro will represent Metro at the Southern California Regional Bus Roadeo, which will take place next spring. Last year Metro’s bus operator placed first at regionals, and hopes are high again!

The winning maintenance team comes from Division 8 and will also be heading to the SoCal Regional Bus Roadeo.

Photo gallery: Los Angeles Union Station, once upon a time

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Los Angeles Union Station celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2014 — a nice milestone for the facility that Metro purchased in 2011. We’re digging through any archive we can find for historical photos and thought we would share a few today that date from the late 1930s through the station’s first decade.

The two gems in this bunch are the waitress in the Harvey House restaurant — perhaps at a front counter — and the image of Madame Chiang Kai-shek arriving at the station on March 31, 1943.

Union Station page now up on

In case you didn’t know, now has a page exclusively dedicated to Los Angeles Union Station. It’s got all the relevant information: available retail and dining, history of the station, transportation options, and event listing.

Go check it out and let us know what you think! More information will be added to the page in the coming months – especially with the station’s 75th anniversary happening next year – so make sure to check back often.

How do they do that? Dig a subway tunnel

How do they do that? is a series for The Source that explores the technology that helps keep Metro running and passengers and other commuters moving. Some of it applies directly to the trains, buses and freeways and some of it runs in the background — invisible to nearly everyone but essential to mobility in our region.

Lowering tunnel boring machine into the ground — Dec. 15, 2005 — for construction of Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension.

With the Crenshaw/LAX line, the Metro Regional Connector and the Purple Line Extension readying for construction, there will be plenty of digging going on in L.A.County. But how do you dig a subway tunnel? Dynamite? Giant corkscrew? Spoon?

In the U.S. we’ve been mining subway tunnels for more than a century. At first there were men and shovels and dynamite and excruciating physical labor. (Think Holland Tunnel under the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. Think pressurized compartments holding workers who had to be depressurized at the end of a shift to avoid getting the “bends.”) Fortunately, we now have machines to do the heavy work.

During the past 20 years Metro has constructed three sets of tunnels: one for the Metro Red and Purple lines, another for two stations of the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension and a third to carry the Expo Line under the busy Figueroa-Exposition Boulevard intersection.

Tunnel boring machine

Tunnel boring machine

For the Gold Line Eastside Extension, two tunnel boring machines nicknamed Lola and Vicki (see video above) were lowered into the ground in Boyle Heights to bore twin subway tunnels from First and Boyle to First and Lorena streets at a depth of 50 to 60 feet. Each TBM weighed more than two million pounds and was 344 feet long. Each built a tunnel that was 21 feet in diameter.

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