75 Years Ago This Week: 10,000 Turn Out As Shirley Temple Inaugurates New PCC Streetcar Service In Los Angeles

The third week of March, 1937 had been designated “National Transportation Week” and Los Angeles was ready to roll out its new streetcars.

10,000 cheering spectators celebrated the arrival of two Presidents’ Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars at City Hall.

Crowds swarm the unveiling of Los Angeles Railway's new PCC Streetcars, March 1937 (Click to enlarge)

It was an exciting time for California transportation, as the Golden Gate Bridge was set to open in less than two months.

The city scored a publicity coup in getting the biggest little film star in the world to assist with the ceremonies:  Pint-sized child actress Shirley Temple was on hand to help Los Angeles Mayor Frank L. Shaw inaugurate the new PCC streetcars.

When the cars were unveiled on March 22, public reaction was very favorable.  These particular streetcars were initially assigned to Los Angeles Railway‘s Pico Boulevard “P” Line, the system’s busiest.

Crowds at Los Angeles City Hall watch Los Angeles Railway unveiling (Courtesy UCLA Digital Archive, Click to enlarge)

Los Angeles Railways purchased eventually purchased 165 such streetcars over the next 11 years — the largest such order in the world.

As more PCC cars were added to the fleet, other lines were converted to PCC service.

The PCC streetcars’ name comes from the design committee formed in 1929 representing the presidents of various electric street railways.

The Committee was tasked with producing a new type of streetcar that would help fend off competition from buses and automobiles.

The streetcars were known for their streamlined design, smooth acceleration and braking, and noise reduction.

Twenty-six years later to the week, the last of them disappeared from Los Angeles streets forever.