Situated next to the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge are the Red Car Pylons, support structures built in 1929 that allowed the Red Cars of the Pacific Electric Railway to shuttle busy passengers between Silver Lake and Atwater Village along its route, which extended into Glendale and culminated in downtown Los Angeles.
According to “Images of America: Atwater Village,” the line boasted a fleet of Presidential Coach Cars (PCCs) which promised, “to meet every travel need between the hearts of Glendale-Burbank and Los Angeles.”
Today, these five concrete relics of Los Angeles’ transportation heritage emerge staunchly from the soft-bottom section of the L.A. River downstream from the Glendale-Hyperion bridge, reminding residents of a time their still-blossoming metropolis had an extensive passenger rail network.
Current Mayor and former District 13 Councilman, Eric Garcetti set out to bring Angelenos back to the river and their Red Car River Pylons eight years ago. In 2005, with the help of Friends of Atwater Village, Garcetti designated the Red Car River Park a pocket park that serves as the only river access point from Atwater Village.
According to the Electric Railway Historical Association of Southern California, the Red Car crossing at the park’s edge transported Eastside commuters until 1955 when the line was shut down, and the tracks dismantled in favor of the burgeoning freeway system. Today, all that remains of that crossing are those Red Car Pylons.
As Los Angeles once again turns to the rail lines with planned expansions of the Blue, Gold, Green, and Purple lines, Atwater Village residents find new relevance in their beloved Red Car Pylons.
So what will become of these historic pylons as the Hyperion Bridge retrofit and restoration project continues on its course? Will they become a part of the effort for a more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly retrofit of the corridor? Can these relics of the railways once again rekindle their usefulness, transporting residents from Atwater Village to Silver Lake and back?
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Marni Epstein is an entertainment, music, and lifestyle Journalist and resident of Echo Park. She has previously worked in the film and digital media industries with FOX and Sony Pictures Entertainment. She is currently also pursuing a Masters in Historic Preservation.