May 1: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History

1899:  Groundbreaking for the California Cycleway, the “world’s first elevated bikeway,” in Pasadena.

Pasadena Cycleway looking north from the Raymond Hotel, 1900 (Courtesy of Pasadena Museum of History)

Horace Dobbin’s project was envisioned to speed travel between Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles.  It was demolished by 1907.

Horace M. Dobbins in his Oldsmobile on Pasadena Cycleway, circa 1902 (Courtesy of Pasadena Museum of History)

More information can be found in the June 27, 2019 post on Curbed LA.

1918:  A manpower shortage triggered by World War I leads Los Angeles Railway to recruit its first woman to work on the streetcar system.

Moving from the railway’s office to operating as a streetcar conductor, she also collected fares and made change.

The experiment of a female conductor was short-lived. Privately run electric railway companies across the country adopted “only as a last resort” or “emergency only” policies when it came to hiring women.

The Amalgamated Association Of Street And Electric Railway Employees Of America openly stated that “it wasn’t time yet” and “streetcars were no place for women.”

However, union policy noted that if it did become necessary to hire women to replace men drafted into the military, women working on streetcars must have exactly the same entitlements, pay and treatment as the men they replaced.

It took until World War II for the door that opened just a crack in 1918 to finally open wide.

1921:  Large letter signs indicating the routes of different lines are placed on top of Los Angeles Railway streetcars.

The signs are also illuminated at night.  The concept is “similar to the plan followed in many large cities of the country and everywhere it has been found a great help to the public.”

More information can be found in the May 2, 1921 issue of Two Bells, the Los Angeles Railway employee news magazine.

1937:  The Conejo Grade Realignment between Thousand Oaks and Camarillo in Ventura County is dedicated.

California Director of Public Works Earl Lee Kelly, acting for Governor Frank F. Merriam, personally operates a huge power grader which pushes as boulder off the traveled way, symbolizing the removal of the last obstruction to traffic on the new highway.

The $570,000 project eliminates one of the most dangerous stretches of the “old coast highway” in its entire length.  This segment of U.S. 101 was originally constructed in 1914-1915, and work commenced on the new “modern” highway on December 11, 1935.

More information about the construction and ceremonies surrounding the Conejo Grade can be found in the May, 1937 issue of California Highways and Public Works.

1940:  The first major substitution of motor coach service for rail service on Pacific Electric streetcar lines begins.

The new bus service runs between downtown Los Angeles and Redondo Beach via two different routes.  One service is along Venice Boulevard, following the route of the original Redondo Del Rey Line to Playa del Rey, then through Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach to Avenue “I” (Clifton) in Redondo Beach.

The second route is from the Subway Terminal south on Figueroa Street, then along La Tijera boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard into El Segundo, where it continues along the other route to Redondo Beach.

More information can be found in the April, 1940 issue of Pacific Electric Magazine.

1949:  Los Angeles Motor Coach Company is dissolved as a business entity and its lines are divided between Los Angeles Transit Lines and Pacific Electric Railway.

Los Angeles Motor Coach Lines was originally a joint venture of Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railway founded August 1, 1923.

It began as Wilshire Boulevard’s transit service from the MacArthur Park area to La Brea Avenue and was extended further down Wilshire as the service gained popularity.  Wilshire Boulevard holds the distinction (and still does) of city legislation banning streetcar service, as the early 20th century homeowners were Los Angeles’ first “NIMFY”s (“Not In My Front Yard).

More information can be found in the May-June, 1949 issue of Pacific Electric Magazine.

1974:  Southern California Rapid Transit District opens Park n Ride Facilities at the La Mirada Drive-In and the San Gabriel Drive-In in the San Gabriel Valley.

More information can be found in the May 15, 1974 issue of Headway, the Southern California Rapid Transit District employee news magazine.