Thursday, October 20, 2016

Echo Park road work reveals possible reminders of the Red Car

Rusty metal plates, spikes and wooden ties uncovered by Glendale Boulevard road work | Scott Fajack

ECHO PARK —   Some recent road work on Glendale Boulevard revealed some splintered railroad ties and rusty spikes and brackets that appear to be part of the former Red Car street car line that traveled down the same street.

Scott Fajack of Echo Park snapped photos of the ties and metal pieces that had been removed and piled on the side of the street after L.A. Department of Water Power workers dug up Glendale Boulevard near Montrose Avenue  along Echo Park Lake.  The last of Los Angeles’ famed Pacific Electric Red Cars were put out of service  decades ago but the tracks were simply covered up with a layer of asphalt.  The metal rails on which the Echo Park Avenue street car traveled were briefly revealed a few years back when the street was resurfaced.

It’s not known for sure whether the  railroad ties and spikes found on Glendale Boulevard were part of the Glendale-Burbank line, which operated from about 1904 to 1955, according to the Electric Railway Historical Assn.  More items could be found when the DWP crews return to work on the street.

Metal plate and spikes | Scott Fajack

Ties and metal pieces piled off road work on Glendale Boulevard | Scott Fajack

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  1. I think it is absolutely asinine that our city “leaders” don’t put our red cars back in place. Bring some desperately needed character and graceful beauty to this city; not to mention transportation functionality with our old red car system.

  2. Eh… blame the people, not the politicians.

    The red cars were run by the private sector, at a loss, to sell houses in deep suburbia (yes, LA was sprawling long before we built the freeways.) However, once that real estate was sold, those companies had little interest in spending a fortune upgrading their antiquated mass transit system for a growing city, as it would surely run at a loss (the true value of infrastructure is very difficult to capture at the source.)

    So they sold all those ROW’s to the MTA and the state in the 50’s. And there were several attempts over the next 3 decades by the MTA to build a modern mass transit system, and they all failed at the ballot box until 1980. And since then, NIMBY’s have fought each and every line with lawsuits, delaying construction by many years.

    Nowadays, it’s very expensive to build mass transit and thus requires significant federal funding. But since congress refuses to raise the gas tax to match inflation, or implement a new tax based on milage, or allow cities to toll the freeways, it’s nearly impossible to build these projects in a timely manner (and in California, prop 13 raises the bar pretty high for raising taxes locally.)

    • The best explanation of LA’s failure to maintain it’s rail system as I’ve ever read. So many folks buy into the “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” explanation that the big, bad auto and tire companies got together to screw LA out of its trolley system. Post-war Angelinos LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the automobile and didn’t want to ride around on circa-1920 trolley cars to get around. Soldiers coming home from the war wanted big, fast cars, and they bought them up in record numbers in the first five years after WWII. Unfortunately, the buying habits of our grandparents ended up screwing us all by the 1970s, and we’ve been trying to rectify the problem ever since.

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