Then & Now: Florence Avenue streetcar and bus

Photo: Metro Transportation Library & Archive's Flickr stream.

Photo by Alan Weeks, via Metro Transportation Library & Archive’s Flickr stream.

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

The top photo was taken in 1955 in front of Inglewood Park Cemetery on Florence Avenue. I took the bottom photo this afternoon from about the same spot, although I didn’t quite nail the exact framing as the ’55 photo.

What else is different? At some point the streetcar tracks were removed; there are still tracks on the north side of Florence (out of view in both photos) that will be rebuilt for the Crenshaw/LAX Line. The palm trees today are, as expected, much larger. The fountain and its lights are slightly different. The ugly power lines look to have been moved to the north side of the street. They’re still ugly.

This is the first in a series of such shots I’ll be taking — comparing old streetcar photos to contemporary times. I should have another decent one tomorrow. Stay tuned please — and let me know if you have any ideas for other photos!

20 replies

  1. Let us not forget it was the old MTA that put an end to streetcar service in Los Angeles. The last former Pacific Electric line was to Long Beach. Some 30 years later the Blue Line was built on much of the same right of way. And what took Henry Huntington’s P. E. to build in six months it took about three years for the former L. A. C.T.C. to build over the same right of way. I guess modern building methods are not always more efficient.

    • True enough! But at least the rebuilding of LA’s public transit is finally being done (albeit in odd form and at great expense.) For that we can be thankful!

  2. That’s a neat photo, It would be cool to have these type of pictures put up in the buses or trains. I’d like to see some like these of were rail was restored such as the blue or expo line.

  3. How about a Red Car and a Metro car on the same spot? As I recall, there is plenty of old PE right of way now being used by MetroRail.

    (Of course, probably the ideal would have been one of the two Metro cars in the commemorative throwback PE paint job, but they’ve, sadly, been repainted.

  4. Thanks Alan and Steve for the photos.

    It is nice that a few people like Alan Weeks did take these pictures of streetcars and buses decades ago and is sharing these pictures with us today.

    I could have been on that streetcar when Alan snapped the picture. Yes, we should have left our rail transportation intact, but ridership was dropping, even before WW-II, but WW-II extended its life. Us Angelenos after WW-II started buying cars and wanted all tracks removed from the roads. With our new freedom, those of us that had cars were glad to see the 5-car and others removed as well as we did not care about the Red Cars either.

    For the loss of the Red and Yellow cars, we have no-one to blame but ourselves, not GM or even Standard Oil like some like to blame.

  5. Two other contrasts:

    In the top photo, the land under the U.S made tracks are being charged property tax, contributing to the financial health of the coty. In the bottom one, the land is now untaxed, and is covered in impermiable & likely-foreign-petroleum-based asphalt which the city can barely afford to maintain.

    In the top photo, the clean-air electric transit vehicle is designed & made entirely in the USA from scratch with USA components by a company based in St. Louis, MO. In the bottom photo the Hungarian-designed & built product (widgets tightened in Alabama) is made by an company recently sold by Vulture Capitalists to a Canadian firm, and rides on latex-allergy-spewing tires and burns natural gas made cheap via fracking!

  6. Excellent idea! Is the bus actually longer (and can carry more passengers) than the streetcar?

  7. Street Cars more effective. LA messed up royaly by getting rid of all their old subways and street carts

  8. Great! We are actually using the “before” photo as part of a presentation about the Crenshaw light rail at Inglewood Public Library this Saturday, 11 AM!

  9. Quite sad to see those streetcars gone…
    Truly, the 1st picture looks much-much better. Hopefully they will come back!

  10. Sad the street cars were destroyed so long ago. Most do not realize the red car system went to all corners of the county but was totally destroyed in favour of automobiles #traffic