May 1: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History

1918:  A manpower shortage triggered by World War I leads Los Angeles Railway to recruit its first woman to work on the streetcar system.

Moving from the railway’s office to operating as a streetcar conductor, she also collected fares and made change.

The experiment of a female conductor was short-lived. Privately run electric railway companies across the country adopted “only as a last resort” or “emergency only” policies when it came to hiring women.

The Amalgamated Association Of Street And Electric Railway Employees Of America openly stated that “it wasn’t time yet” and “streetcars were no place for women.”

However, union policy noted that if it did become necessary to hire women to replace men drafted into the military, women working on streetcars must have exactly the same entitlements, pay and treatment as the men they replaced.

It took until World War II for the door that opened just a crack in 1918 to finally open wide.


Conejo Grade dedication

(Click for more information)

1937:  The Conejo Grade Realignment between Thousand Oaks and Camarillo in Ventura County is dedicated.

California Director of Public Works Earl Lee Kelly, acting for Governor Frank F. Merriam, personally operates a huge power grader which pushes as boulder off the traveled way, symbolizing the removal of the last obstruction to traffic on the new highway.

The $570,000 project eliminates one of the most dangerous stretches of the “old coast highway” in its entire length.

This segment of U.S. 101 was originally constructed in 1914-1915.

More information about the construction and ceremonies surrounding the Conejo Grade can be found in the May, 1937 issue of California Highways.


Los Angeles Motor Bus

Double-decker Los Angeles Motor Bus on Wilshire Boulevard, 1920s (Click for more information)

1949:  Los Angeles Motor Coach Company is dissolved as a business entity and its lines are divided between Los Angeles Transit Lines and Pacific Electric Railway.

Los Angeles Motor Coach Lines was originally a joint venture of Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railway founded August 1, 1923.

It began as Wilshire Boulevard’s transit service from the MacArthur Park area to La Brea Avenue and was extended further down Wilshire as the service gained popularity.

Wilshire Boulevard holds the distinction (and still does) of city legislation banning streetcar service, as the early 20th century homeowners were Los Angeles’ first “NIMFY”s (“Not In My Front Yard).

1974:  Southern California Rapid Transit District opens Park n Ride Facilities at the La Mirada Drive-In and the San Gabriel Drive-In in the San Gabriel Valley.