December 26: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History

1917:  President Woodrow Wilson proclaims presidential control of all rail and combined rail and water transportation to create the United States Railroad Administration.  Federal control takes place beginning two days later.

President Woodrow Wilson, 1919. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Shortly thereafter, the United States Railroad Administration issues an order for the unification of railroad facilities, including terminals, where possible, in response to pressures from World War I.

As the California Railroad Commission’s study was already underway in Los Angeles, the Director General of Railroads, William Gibbs McAdoo, notified the California Railroad Commission of his desire to push a unification of the terminal facilities and to inform him of their progress:

“Am having investigation made of terminals at Los Angeles with a view of unifying them in line with similar policy through country with view to increasing the public convenience and economizing in cost operation. I also desire, if possible, to reduce existing traffic on Alameda Street. Shall be glad if the California Commission will look into this situation and give me the benefit of its views on proposed changes. Mr. Sproule [District Director] will gladly co-operate with you and supply all available information.  The Engineering Department of the Railroad Commission filed a report on September 7, 1918 titled, “Immediate Unification and More Economical Operation of Railroads with Resulting Betterment of Grade Crossing Conditions in Los Angeles and Vicinity.” This report, submitted to McAdoo on September 16, 1918, recommended some changes in railroad operations, but most notably recommended unifying all passenger facilities at the Santa Fe Station.”

More information can be found in the 2007 Master’s Thesis by Holly Charmain Kane, Arriving in Los Angeles: Railroad Depots as Gateways to the California Dream.