May 31, 1953: Pacific Electric Railroad makes its last run on Santa Monica Blvd

West Hollywood Pacific Electric Railways

Today in West Hollywood transportation history, on May 31, 1953, the Pacific Electric Railway West Hollywood Line made its final descent down Santa Monica Boulevard, reports Metro Primary Sources Libraries.

The Pacific Electric Railway Company, nicknamed the “Red Cars”, was a private Southern California public transit system consisting of electric streetcars, intercity cars and buses and was the world’s largest electric rail system in the 1920s. Organized around downtown Los Angeles and San Bernardino, it linked cities in Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County.

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The system shared a double track with the Los Angeles Railway narrow gauge 3 ft 6 in (1067 mm), “Yellow Car” or “LARy” system on Main Street in downtown Los Angeles (directly across from the 6th and Main Terminal), on 4th Street and along Hawthorne Boulevard south of downtown Los Angeles to the towns of Hawthorne, Gardena, and Torrance.

Pacific Electric Railway was established with Henry Edwards Huntington as major shareholder.

Electric carts first appeared in Los Angeles in 1887. In 1895, the Pasadena & Pacific Railway was created from the merger of the Pasadena and Los Angeles Railway and the Los Angeles Pacific Railway (to Santa Monica). The Pasadena & Pacific Railway boosted tourism in Southern California. , true to its motto “from the mountains to the sea”.

The former Pacific Electric Mission Trolley made a stop at Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, 1905.

Pacfiic Electric was sold to Southern Pacific in 1910.

In 1911, Southern Pacific combined Pacific Electric with nearly every intercity railroad in a four county region of Southern California, which continued to operate as Pacific Electric.

Its passenger operations (rail and bus) were sold to the new Metropolitan Coach Lines in 1953.

The last Pacific Electric Railway was converted to a bus in 1961. Parent company Southern Pacific ended Pacific Electric’s existence in 1965, folding the few remaining freight operating miles into its own operation.

Check out photos of the Pacific Electric Railway via the Metro Library Archive:

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