Map of Southern Pacific Company and Pacific Electric Railway Company Lines (1910)

Like Chicago, the greater Los Angeles area was served in the late nineteenth century by a number of streetcar systems with separate fares and often uncoordinated lines.  This map, appearing in the 1910/1911 Annual Report of the Southern Pacific Company, documented the merger of these lines into the regional utility known as the Pacific Electric Railway. A privately owned utility, it remained profitable for several decades by offering frequent and affordable service around the region in its trademark red cars.  It also helped to accommodate urban expansion across the low land in the Los Angeles and Santa Ana Basins, along the Coastal Plain, and into the San Fernando Valley.  Indeed, this network map, though it omits explicit topographic references, contains topographic information that can be deduced by studying where the lines ran and where they did not.  As such, it also offered a portrait of the extent of urbanization in the Southland before the automobile boom of the Postwar years.  The automobile, increasingly accessible to middle-class families in the Postwar years, would ultimately offer greater flexibility in how and where neighborhoods could be developed, but it also offered less of the permanence suggested by visible transit infrastructure.  Unlike in Chicago, Cleveland, or New York, the Pacific Electric Railway system was not transferred to public or quasi-public ownership when it became unprofitable as a private venture.  By the early 1960s the entire system was gone, some of its right-of-ways converted to freight use, its service replaced by diesel or gas powered buses, with routes that could change easily as demand shifted, on roads that would also be maintained for automobiles.

 

PRINT

Crump, Spencer, Ride the Big Red Cars: How Trolleys Helped Build Southern California. Los Angeles: Crest Publications. 1962. 

Crump, Spencer, Henry Huntington and the Pacific Electric: A Pictorial Album.  Los Angeles: Trans-Anglo Books, 1970.

Roth, Matthew William, Concrete Utopia: The Development of Roads and Freeways in Los Angeles, 1910-1950. PhD. Diss., University of Southern California, 2007.

Thompson, Gregory Lee, The Passenger Train in the Motor Age: California's Rail and Bus Industries, 1910–1941. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1993.

 

WEB

Electric Railway Historical Association of Southern California: http://www.erha.org/

The Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society: http://www.pacificelectric.org/

Southern Pacific Company, “Map of Southern Pacific Company and Pacific Electric Railway Company Lines in the Los Angeles Region of Southern California,” In Twenty-Seventh Annual report of the Southern Pacific Company and Proprietary Companies, 1910/11, vol. 2, p. 26.  The Newberry Library, 5A 7267