At Last: All Of Los Angeles Transportation History Explained In Interactive Timeline & Interactive Organization Chart

[Above: Metro Library’s new interactive timeline for Los Angeles transit history. “X” out the introduction box and move the chronology slider along the bottom to reposition the timeline. You may click on each transit operator for more information and links to photos. You may also access a full-screen version here]

We are proud to present two new historical resources for public consumption:  a comprehensive, interactive timeline for Los Angeles transportation agencies dating back to 1874 along with an organizational flow chart explaining their relationship to one another.

These two new resources which will help everyone understand our complex and often confusing legacy of over 220 transit agencies during the last 140 years.

We previously featured a flowchart on our webpages which contained links to various photo collections on our Flickr photo site.

Last summer, intern Kelly Minta began revamping these resources using new, robust social media tools to convey this complex information more clearly while continuing her work on other projects.

Kelly explains that:

The most interesting part of researching the timeline was discovering how intrinsic transit was to Los Angeles History.

For example, the Los Angeles and Aliso Street Railroad Company (1877- 1899) added a second line because baseball was becoming a popular American pastime and fans needed ways to get to games in Los Angeles.

It’s really interesting to look at who the prominent figures were in creating some of these lines.  Judge Robert M. Widney, who was also a founder of USC, owned the Spring and West 6th Street Railroad and founded the East Los Angeles and Pedro Railway Company. Henry Huntington owned the Pacific Electric Railway. 

Because rail transit is publicly owned in Los Angeles today, it’s also interesting to think of a time when powerful businessmen or civic leaders would have owned urban rail lines. 

Because rail lines were owned by many different private companies, passengers would often have to transfer and buy new tickets on one rail line that ran different rail company cars on its tracks, in order to complete a trip.

Overall, I think that what the timeline does is illustrate the response of transit to what was going on at that point in history. 

As automobiles became more prevalent, funding was being directed towards building roads and freeway infrastructure and we see the rise of the bus as a means of public transit. 

Now that roads are congested, we see more funding for alternate means of transit like subways, light rail, and even dedicated bike lanes.

We have deployed Tiki-Toki timeline software and PeoplePlotr organization chart software to help explain the rich legacy of transit and transportation in Southern California as Metro continues to plan, construct and operate a growing network of multi-modal projects across Los Angeles County.

After more than six months, these tools are available for everyone to use, share and enjoy.

[Above: Metro Library’s new interactive “family tree” for Los Angeles transit history. Click the timeline tab to move the chronology slider along the bottom. You may click on each transit operator for more information and links to photos. You may also access a full-screen version here]

The finished product is so good that Tiki-Toki selected our History of Transit in Los Angeles to feature on their blog as their inaugural “Timeline of the Month.”  This is quite an honor, considering they had 100,000 timelines to choose from!

The abundance of free, flexible online software and social media tools are a boon for government agencies looking to communicate complex processes.

Over the past few years, we have dug into our archives to tell some of the less-known but fascinating stories from our past.

Digitizing our assets and disseminating them through new tools and technology ensures that there are many more to come.