It operated on 3 foot, 6 inch (1,067 mm) narrow-gauge tracks and connected the city center to neighborhoods in about a six-mile radius of downtown.
The system was informally known as the “Yellow Cars,” similar to the Pacific Electric Railway’s “Red Cars” which served more outlying areas.
However, the Yellow Cars always carried many more passengers than the Red Cars, since the system was located in densely populated central Los Angeles and surrounding neighborhoods.
The Los Angeles Railway and the Pacific Electric Railway shared some dual gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) / 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) track along Hawthorne Boulevard, on Main Street and on 4th Street.
The system was purchased by railroad and real estate tycoon Henry Huntington in 1898.
At its height, the system contained over 20 streetcar lines and 1,250 trolleys, most running through the core of Los Angeles and serving such nearby neighborhoods as Echo Park, Westlake, Hancock Park, Exposition Park, West Adams, the Crenshaw district, Vernon, Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights.
The system was sold by Huntington’s estate in 1945 to National City Lines and renamed Los Angeles Transit Lines.
National City Lines was already under scrutiny for the practice of purchasing streetcar lines and replacing them with buses.
In a rare reversal, National City Lines actually invested not only in improved rail lines, but electric trolley buses as well, with the first group of 40 ACF-Brill coaches having been ordered by Oakland’s Key System, which itself was purchased by National City Lines who transferred the coaches to Los Angeles.
The last streetcar lines of the Yellow Cars were taken over by a government agency, the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (not to be confused with the current Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority) in 1958.
The agency removed the remaining five streetcar lines on March 30, 1963.
List of Routes
2 Line – Filipinotown to Montecito Heights; by way of Belmont Avenue, Loma Drive, 3rd Street, Flower Street, 5th Street, Broadway, Pasadena Avenue, Avenue 26, and Griffin Avenue.
3 Line – Skid Row to Hollywood; by way of 5th Street, 6th Street, private ROW, 3rd Street, and Larchmont Boulevard.
5 and 6 Lines – Hawthorne to Eagle Rock; by way of Hawthorne Boulevard, private ROW, Crenshaw Boulevard, Leimert Boulevard, Martin Luther King Boulevard, Grand Avenue, Jefferson Boulevard, Main Street, Broadway, Pasadena Avenue, Avenue 20, Figueroa Street, Cypress Avenue, Eagle Rock Boulevard, and Colorado Boulevard.
7 Line – South Los Angeles to Los Angeles Plaza Historic District; by way of Broadway, Main Street, and Spring Street.
8 Line – Leimert Park to Los Angeles Plaza Historic District; by way of 54th Street, Broadway, Main Street, and Spring Street.
9 Line – Leimert Park to the Wholesale District, by way of 48th Street, Hoover Street, Grand Avenue, Pico Boulevard, Broadway, and 2nd Street.
10 Line – Leimert Park to Lincoln Heights; by way of Vernon Avenue, Dalton Avenue, Martin Luther King Boulevard, Grand, Pico Boulevard, Broadway, and Lincoln Park Avenue.
A Line – Mid City to Echo Park; by way of Adams Boulevard, Kensington Street, Venice Boulevard, Broadway, Temple Street, Edgeware Road, and Douglas Street.
B Line – Nevin to City Terrace; by way of Ascot Avenue, Hooper Avenue, 12th Street, Main Street, Brooklyn Avenue, Evergreen Avenue, Wabash Avenue, and City Terrace Drive.
D Line – Westlake to Skid Row; by way of Bonnie Brae Street, 3rd Street, Alvarado Street, 6th Street, and 5th Street.
F Line – Athens to Boyle Heights; by way of Vermont Avenue, Hoover Street, Santa Barbara Avenue, Grand Avenue, Jefferson Boulevard, Main Street, 3rd Street, 4th Place, 4th Street, and Fresno Street.
G Line – Nevin to South Park; by way of McKinley Avenue, Jefferson Boulevard, Griffith Avenue, Washington Boulevard, and Main Street.
H Line – South Los Angeles to East Hollywood; by way of San Pedro Street, 7th Street, Broadway, 6th Street, Rampart Boulevard, Beverly Boulevard, Heliotrope Drive, and Melrose Avenue.
J Line – Jefferson Park to Huntington Park; by way of Jefferson Boulevard, Central Avenue, Vernon Avenue, and Pacific Boulevard.
K Line – Nevin to South Park; by way of Naomi Avenue and Olympic Boulevard.
L Line – East Hollywood to Mid-City; by way of Lexington Avenue, Madison Avenue, Temple Street, Broadway, and Olympic Boulevard.
N Line – Koreatown to South Park; by way of 8th Street and 9th Street.
O Line – South Los Angeles to Lincoln Heights; by way of Main Street.
P Line – Mid-City to City Terrace; by way of Pico Boulevard, Main Street, 1st Street, Gage Avenue, Hammel Street, and Record Avenue.
R Line – Hancock Park to East Los Angeles; by way of 3rd Street, Vermont Avenue, 7th Street, Boyle Avenue, and Whittier Boulevard.
S Line – Watts to East Hollywood; by way of Central Avenue, Florence Avenue, Avalon Boulevard, Vernon Avenue, Vermont Street, 3rd Street, and Western Avenue.
U Line – Nevin to West Adams; by way of Central Avenue, Jefferson Boulevard, Vermont Street, and 27th Street.
V Line – Nevin to East Hollywood; by way of Santa Fe Avenue, 7th Street, and Vermont Street.
W Line – Mid-City to Highland Park; by way of Washington Boulevard, Figueroa Street, 6th Street, Broadway, Avenue 20, Figueroa Street, and York Boulevard.