The art of transit

photo from Metro Transportation Library and Archive’s Flickr page

I thought we’d get historical for today’s photo. This is a view north of Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, taken from Olympic Boulevard. The photo was taken in 1940 and there are a couple of things interesting to me: the first is that even in those days there were off-street parking lots in downtown, taking up valuable space. It appears that parking cost only 10 cents in 1940. It’s not that cheap today, but it’s still cheap compared to other big cities.

The second thing is that you can see at least five streetcars in the frame — suggesting how frequent service was along Broadway. The streetcars may not have been fast and they got in the way of car traffic, but at this point there were certainly a lot of them trolling for business in downtown.

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3 replies

  1. I wonder what the drivers of the two cars stuck between the streetcars are thinking…

  2. Another aspect to notice is the space given to alighting from the streetcar. That bit of paint in the middle of the road was it. My uncle was selling newspapers on Figueroa around this time, and used a similar area to stage his sales. He says he sometimes felt like a toreador, dodging traffic all day.

  3. Looks like 9 streetcars working the street. It should be noted the photo was taken from the Los Angeles Railway headquarters building (Still standing) at 1060 S. Broadway. That continued to be the HQ building all the way through the SCRTD into 1976 when the move to 425 S. Main Street occured.