Pacific Electric Railway and the Exposition Line

Sunday, September 9, 2012

“Almost 60 years after the Pacific Electric Railway stopped running trains to Santa Monica, the resurrection of passenger rail service to the Westside will begin with the grand opening of the $930 million Expo light rail line.” (from “Expo Line Launches Rail Service Push to Westside,” Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2012, Dan Weikel and Ari Bloomtekatz)

N-Line-South-At-9th-Spring-Sts (From the Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society)

Exposition Light Rail Line to Culver City (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

The Exposition line finally opened for service on April 28, 2012. The route starts from 7th/Metro stop in Downtown Los Angeles and ends in Culver City.  This is Phase I and construction on Phase II of the Exposition line will begin soon stretching the rail line from Culver City to Santa Monica. The light rail train has made its come back at a good time for me since I started my internship at the Wende Museum on May 1st.

Through the Los Angeles Metro’s public art program, every stop on the Exposition line (and other Metro rail lines too), riders can view unique art works created by local artists.  The art on the Exposition line integrates neighborhoods and communities with civic pride.  Daniel Gonzalez’s linoleum prints, “Engraved in Memory,” are displayed at the La Cienega/Jefferson station where I usually get on and off the Expo train. Below are photos I took of Gonzalez’s prints at the La Cienega/Jefferson station.  To read more about the artist and his statement, please click here.

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Daniel Gonzalez’s “Engraved in Memory” (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

While riding on the Exposition line, I also notice on every stop, including the La Cienega/Jefferson station, archival images of the original Pacific Electric Railway throughout the platforms.  The Pacific Electric Railway was one of the original light rail trains in Los Angeles that followed along the same route as the Exposition line to Santa Monica. The Pacific Electric Railway also traveled throughout the Los Angeles area. Every now and then, my Mom would share with me her memories as a kid riding on the Pacific Electric with her family.  Her Mom, my Grandmother, never drove and took all of five kids with her on the Pacific Electric to run errands, buy groceries or take the kids to the beach.  My Mom loved it.  For her, it was nice to sit and watch the people and the changing landscape as the train moved along.  She told me the trains then were not as fast as today’s local rail lines, but it was really nice and got the family from Pasadena to Downtown Los Angeles and to the beach.

Los Angeles Transit Lines (ex-LA Railway) car no. 611 is just out of the paint shop and rolling along the 5 line at Inglewood cemetery in this 1947 Art Alter shot. (From the Pacific Electric Historical Society)

7th-and-Broadway (From the Pacific Electric Historical Society)

My Mom will tell me that Los Angeles had a good thing going with its train network throughout the city.  The Pacific Electric Railway era ended in 1957 (or 1958).  By this time, the automobile was popular and the car companies took over, making sure the car was number one in mode of transportation in Los Angeles.  Over the years, the original train tracks of the Pacific Electric Railway were ripped up.  As a kid, I remembered seeing some the original tracks – or what was left of them – located in deserted, narrow spaces, slightly smaller than an alley way, in between buildings in Old Town Pasadena with overgrown weeds surrounding the tracks. When the Gold Line light rail train was built over 10 years ago, those remaining old tracks were ripped up too.

With rising gas prices, environmental concerns, and bottleneck traffic, Los Angeles is bringing back the light rail starting with the Red Line twenty plus years ago and continually laying down new tracks spreading out throughout the city.  Presently, Metro is in preparations to begin phase two of the Exposition Line stretching it to Santa Monica. Metro is also laying down tracks to extend the Gold Line from Pasadena to go eastward to Glendora. Right now the Gold Line travels from Pasadena to East Los Angeles.

Exposition Light Rail Line to Culver City

Below are photos I took of the archival images at various points on the La Cienega/Jefferson platform honoring the Pacific Electric Railway.  These images are representative in bridging the past with the present and hopefully the future of the local rail line in Los Angeles.

1908: Two homes a week start construction on Crenshaw Blvd. between Exposition and Santa Barbara. (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

1911: Once free of Los Angeles, it makes almost a straight line to the beach city of Santa Monica.

(Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

1912: Wide Parkways planted with Palms and Acacias…a lot for $550.00

1913: A new and modern housing community to be developed along Exposition around Dorsey High School. (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

1913: You will find three intersecting electric lines – the logical center to develop a townsite (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

1921: A Golden Haze crowns the Western Horizon under a slowly setting sun as your train travels on towards Santa Monica.

1947: The train of tomorrow will be shown on Exposition Blvd. (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

1949: Business owners in the Hayden Tract gave easements on their properties. (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

(Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

View of Downtown L.A. from the La Cienega/Exposition platform. (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

Another view from the La Cienega/Jefferson station platform. (Photo taken by Nicole Murph, 2012)

The other side of the La Cienega/Jefferson station. The white building below is the headquarters and factory of See’s Candy. As a kid, I remember taking two school field trips to the factory. Now, during my walk to the station, I can smell the sweet smell of chocolate in the air.

Website to Check Out:

Pacific Electric Historical Society (www.pacificelectric.org)

***With regard to copyright, all images belong to me (NicolesArtsResource) unless otherwise stated.  Be kind and give credit where it’s due.***

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