December 3: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History

1885:  Col. Charles H. Howland applies for a franchise for Los Angeles’ first electric railway line.

Advertisement from Los Angeles Daily Herald, June 3, 1886 (Click to enlarge)

The purpose of the franchise is to promote sales of lots in the Electic Railway Homestead Tract (bounded by Pico Boulevard, Vermont Avenue, San Marino Street and Serrano Street).

The trolley line opens in January, 1887 on Pico Street (now Boulevard) between Main and Harvard Boulevard. The first electric railway west of Denver is soon extended north to The Plaza and out Maple Avenue to 32nd Street.

However, the technology developed by inventor Leo Daft was inadequate for the demands of regular and growing service, and the powerhouse boiler exploded in June, 1888.  Sporadic operation with horses continued as late as early 1889, but the company went bankrupt.