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.

2 replies

  1. The caption above is incorrect. PE did not “replace all of it’s wooden streetcars.” What they did was not purchase any more new wooden cars. Some of the wooden cars they already owned continued to operate until 1950, including on the Venice Short Line, where they provided the primary service up until their end. Only for it’s final year, 1951, was the Venice Short Line served by anything other than wooden cars.

  2. fascinating:
    “Indeed, during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1913, Pacific Electric Railway carried 78,796,000 passengers with only one fatality.”