From the archives: L.A. transit meets ‘The Book of Eli’

1961 New Proposed Backbone Route Plan with Fallout Shelters

1961 New Proposed Backbone Route Plan with Fallout Shelters

Move over “Avatar,” “The Road” and “The Book of Eli.” When it comes to contemplating the demise of civilization, L.A. transit is way ahead of you with a subway plan including stations that double as fallout shelters.

L.A’s 1961 New Proposed Backbone Route Plan, which outlined elevated rail from El Monte to downtown and a subway from downtown to Century City, was to be 22.7 miles total, with 12 miles of subway along Wilshire Boulevard. The projected construction cost of $192 million would have been a huge investment in those days but the fallout shelter stations must have seemed worthy of the dollars — certainly reflecting the angst of the time. Maybe our time, too, if recent movie themes are any indication.

Public groundbreaking ceremonies for the Backbone Route Plan were held in 1962 in downtown Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, although no capital funding became available to begin construction. Here’s a segment of the rendering with a few details of the Wilshire corridor fallout shelter. Curiously, there appears to be only one entrance near Alvarado Street. Was that entrance to be limited to transit devotees in the know? (Not a bad idea.) Or maybe each of the diamond shapes on the plan was supposed to be an entrance. Does anyone out there remember what the deal was?

Here’s a link to the entire image, for greater detail and scope.