Red Line 20th anniversary video, part two: Is this what city planners had in mind?

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I love the question posed in the opening of this 1989 video, suggesting that city planners could not have possibly been thinking of what Los Angeles had become: TrafficVille.

My two cents: I think this video gives city planners too much credit. I’m not sure they were thinking of anything except, perhaps, how to cram a few more strip malls into L.A. Zing!

When watching the video, also take a few moments to enjoy the music. Memo to our younger readers: there actually was some very good music created in the 1980s. This just isn’t it. This is.

If you missed it earlier, here’s Dave Sotero’s excellent analysis of the Red Line’s 20th anniversary and what the subway has done for Los Angeles — and what it will likely do in the years and decades ahead. Also, here’s another pair of videos documenting opening day on Jan. 29, 1993.

7 replies

  1. The conceptual system-wide map at 1:37 is fascinating. So the initial plan was to extend the red line down the 5-freeway to meet with the eastern terminus of the green line. And look, the orange line is there and indeed it is orange. Curious about the spur going up to Glendale, and what looks like a rail version of the silver line. Then there is that weird Westside rail junction in… Marina del Rey? BTW Steve I was hoping your link would lead towards Devo, but it still ain’t bad for a municipal website hyperlink.

    • Hi Dr. M;

      LOL. I have no beef with Devo but they are not the Boss. Glad you enjoyed the website.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Also, there were plans for a lot of electric trolley bus serving most of the east-west lines or line serving residential neighborhoods, but that was killed by the 1990’s recession, as well. We need subway to sea ASAP. I also think an extension from Wilshire/Vermont south along Vermont to Expo line would be a great, affordable filling in a blank that would result in less travel time for some not having to go all the way downtown for the transfer.

  3. In the past I had seen part of this film, but not all of it. It was interesting seeing all the old vehicles and buildings in Downtown Los Angeles. I remember when they had the ground breaking with Mayor Bradley in the Civic Center. I worked in the Hall of Administration and I took time off to attend the ground breaking of the Red Line. When they first opened Phase 1 from Union Station to Wilshire/Alavardo everyone called it the subway to no where. Phase 2 opened to Hollywood & Vine; and then Phase 3 to North Hollywood. All of the upgraded Metro buses and trains have made Los Angeles the modern city it has. I also remember before the buses went on the freeways; it took almost 1 and half hours to take a local bus on Wilshire Blvd from Santa Monica to Downtown LA. In those days on the buses, they used to stop at certain intersections along Wilshire and take up zone checks. I am delighted that we have improved a lot since the 1960’s.

  4. If I remember correctly, revenue service did not begin until June, nearly 6 months after the “opening.” In fact, the Times reported sources saying that RTD, that had become MTA before revenue operations, was pushing too hard for the June revenue date (lost of Metrolink commuters having to use shuttle buses since October of the previous year) and that safety was being compromised. Fortunately, no mishaps.
    The intention of connecting to Norwalk and subway serving the east side, along with a lot of other rail projects was killed by the end of the “go go” 80’s and the subsequent recession of the 1990’s that brought us the phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid.” The plans before the recession were ambitious and LA really would have been a much different place because of rail serving so many parts of the county. But economics can be poison. It really was doable with the revenue from the transit taxes because the 1980’s economy was so hot, but once that bubble burst, buh-bye almost all the rail, including the Blue Line to Pasadena (soon built on the cheap by the Pasadena Blue Line Authority). My hear really sinks to think of it today.

  5. So when is the Subway being extended to Norwalk?
    (As promised at the end of the video?)