If you happened to be in downtown Sierra Madre on Friday afternoon and wondered who the idiot was stumbling around in the street juggling an iPad and Nikon DSLR, look no further. The idiot was me.
But I was there to serve a larger purpose: to try to update Alan Week’s 1950 photo of downtown Sierra Madre, which once upon a time had a streetcar and a depot as part of the old Pacific Electric system. The photo was taken shortly before this line was abandoned in Oct. 1950. I took a stab at recapturing the photo both in color and black and white, the second and third photos above.
The line branched off from tracks along Huntington Boulevard and ran along Sierra Madre Boulevard to the penultimate stop in downtown Sierra Madre and then one more at the Mt. Wilson Trailhead on Mira Monte Avenue.
What has changed? The depot is gone but the shortcut with parking between Baldwin Avenue and Sierra Madre Boulevard remains. The building at far left in Alan’s photo remains as the Shirley Hotel but the facade at top has been added. Alan’s photo offers a gimpse of a gas station at right along Sierra Madre Boulevard; there’s still a gas station there, but it’s one of those modern, lacking in character things. The San Gabriel Mountains, thankfully, remain.
And, finally, the tree in my color photo that is just left of the ‘Do Not Enter’ sign may be the same tree shading the old car in Alan’s photo. If I had a DeLorean and some asphalt, perhaps I could go find out.
This was a tricky one. I was obviously near the spot where Alan took his photo but I couldn’t seem to find the exact spot. I also had a hard time mimicking the focal length that Alan used on his camera with my cropped frame Nikon DSLR with an 18-55 lens.
About Alan: He worked for many years as a transit scheduler first with the RTD and later the MTA, now known as Metro. He is retired and very proud of his many years of public service — as he should be. Many of his photos of L.A.’s transit scene can seen on the Metro Transportation Library & Archive’s Flickr page, which as of this morning had 8,915 images and is still growing.
If you’ve enjoyed our Then & Now posts, then you are morally obligated to check out the Metro Library’s Historypin page, a sophisticated mapping tool that allows you to overlay historic photos with current street views. It is, trust me, epically cool. Here’s a Source post from last week explaining Historypin; check out the photo from Crenshaw and 60th on Historypin. Very cool.