Mapping the Historic Routes and Few Remains of Los Angeles's Massive Streetcar System
In just a few short months, Metro's Expo Line extension will begin operation, making it Los Angeles's one and only train line to reach the Pacific Ocean. The Purple Line, if it can get past Beverly Hills High School, might also make it to the sea in a few decades, as the second rail line to hit the beach. This sad state of rail transportation options in LA is particularly heartbreaking when you feast your eyes on what Los Angeles used to have. The Militant Angeleno has compiled an extremely cool interactive map showing where the famed Pacific Electric Red Car trolleys ran from 1901 until their final demise in 1953.
Back in the day, citizens of LA had no fewer than seven Red Car rail lines that could whisk them by trolley to a day at the beach (including the Air Line, the Expo's predecessor). Landlocked neighborhoods had plenty of options too—a vast network of trolley lines linked up Los Angeles with its surrounding communities, stretching far into Valley, both north and east of the city, with Red Car service reaching as far north as San Fernando and as far east as Redlands, a solid 80 miles from the beaches of Santa Monica. The map does not cover the Yellow Cars of the Los Angeles Railway system, which ran mostly around the urban core radiating out from Downtown.
The map also includes locations of remnants of the Red Car era that have survived into the modern age for those who want to catch a glimpse of what was. Still extant tracks, electric substations, and even repurposed train cars are still peppered throughout the city, but sadly exist only as fossils for what once was some of the greatest transportation infrastructure in the country. (There are less tangible remains too—the old routes still govern the city's patterns of density and walkability.)
Learn more at la.curbed.com