Decorated Cable Cars Of 1892 & Other Notable 4th Of July Anniversaries From Early Los Angeles Transit History

Los Angeles Cable Railway's University Line, July 4, 1892 (Click to enlarge)

The upcoming holiday prompted us to share this rarely-seen image of a Los Angeles cable car decked out for the 4th of July, 1892.

When you think about it, the photograph was taken nearly midway between the founding of the United States and today:  The image is 119 years old, taken on the holiday celebrating the nation’s 116th birthday.

Many people remain unaware that Los Angeles enjoyed a brief cable car era during the late 1880s until they were replaced by electric rail.

We will  be taking a closer look at Los Angeles’ cable car era in the future, but for now, coincidentally, other major events took place on the 4th of July in local transportation history.

The Mt. Lowe Railway, seen here in 1910, opened July 4, 1893 (Click to enlarge)

The following year, Thaddeus S.C. Lowe opened “The Great Incline” from Rubio Canyon to the top of Echo Mountain on July 4, 1893.

The trip up the mountain became one of Southern California’s main tourist attractions.

The rail line was eventually purchased by Henry Huntington and Pacific Electric, operating it as “The Mount Lowe Line” until a fire and flood spelled its demise in the early 1930s.

A decade later, Huntington and Pacific Electric opened the Long Beach line from Los Angeles to Long Beach on July 4, 1902.

Passengers board the train to Long Beach, first day of operation, July 4, 1902 (Click to enlarge)

We covered that story in depth in our post looking back at the precursor to the Blue Line on its 20th anniversary last year.

The entire story of Los Angeles public transportation was almost born on the 4th of July as well.

It was July 2, 1873 when David V. Waldron applied for the first franchise for a line from Main and Alameda Streets south to Washington.

The franchise was never used, but within a decade, several small transportation companies sprang up and began providing service.