January 12: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History

Pacific Electric Terminal on “V-J Day,” 1945 (Click to enlarge)

1905:  At 6:00am, Pacific Electric Railway officially opens the Los Angeles Interurban terminal station.

The building cost $1.7 million to construct and is the largest of its kind in the United States, the “only electric terminal station of any size” on the Pacific Coast, and the biggest building of any kind in the Western U.S.

In the first day of service, 276 streetcars arrive and depart carrying over 30,000 passengers.

Besides Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Interurban Railways, the building will also house the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake railroad and offices of other transportation companies who have applied for office space.

The Los Angeles Times proclaims it “the handsomest trolley railroad station in the United States and the following day’s edition of the Los Angeles Herald recounts the opening day’s activities.

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1962:  The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (1951-1964) holds a press event and groundbreaking ceremony for the downtown portion of its proposed Backbone Route at First Street and Broadway.

Governor Pat Brown declares that “the proposal for this Backbone Route is too sound and too necessary to remain just a plan. Let’s start drilling!,” and launches drilling for core samples while news photographers and film crews document the event.

However, the project (map) never comes to fruition, doomed without any local, state or federal funding mechanisms for public transit construction.

1984:  The Southern California Rapid Transit District officially applies for federal funds to construct the Metro Rail subway system.  Groundbreaking occurs 20 months later on September 29, 1986.

2011:  Metro retires the last diesel bus in its 2,228 vehicle fleet, becoming the world’s first major transit agency to operate only alternative-energy clean-fuel buses.