November 7: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History

1899:  Los Angeles Railway opens Division One, still in operation today.  On its opening day, the division was equipped with ten tracks capable of holding 210 streetcars.

Horse-drawn tower wagons at Los Angeles Railway Division One, circa 1899 (Click to enlarge)

On August 23, 1900, the first air brake car ran out of Division One.  By 1920, 400 conductors and motormen operated 125 rail cars from the site.  In 1940, the Division ran a dozen lines covering more than half a million miles each month: B, D, G, H, R, S, 2, 4, E, Gage, Indiana and Mateo (named lines were shuttles).  On August 3, 1947, the first 40 trolley coaches were assigned to the Division in conjunction with rail service.  By 1948, likely the peak year for the Division, 2.6 million rail miles and nearly 2 million trolley coach miles were traveled.  Rail service was discontinued in 1951.

Division One, 1909 (Click to enlarge)

During 1959, Division One operated 2,246,915 service miles.  A new complex of buildings funded with grants from the Urban Mass Transportation Administration on July 11, 1987.  By 1990, it was estimated that more than 1 billion passenger trips had been made by vehicles operating out of the Sixth & Central Yards.

That year, Southern California Rapid Transit District General Manager Alan Pegg said:

“I consider it highly dramatic that Division 1, which began as a base for electric streetcars, is today the base for the largest fleet of methanol-powered buses in the world.”

Today the division operates hundreds of natural gas powered Metro buses for the Gateway Cities Service Sector.  The original address for the site was 648 South Central Avenue, but was later changed to 1130 East Sixth Street.

1988: A 200-foot tunnel-digging machine is lowered into the 60-foot excavation pit at Union Station.

The machine is the same kind used to tunnel a path from the site of the Wilshire/Alvarado Station to the 7th/Metro Station.

Tunneling machinery lowered (Click to enlarge)


Hoisted off its wideload carriers and lowered into the pit, a construction crew begins reassembling the machine to begin tunneling from Union Station to 4th and Hill Streets.

The January, 1989 issue of Headways, the Southern California Rapid Transit District employee newsmagazine reports that:

Because the soil quality in this area is of a silt quality, that is, 20% Los Angeles River sediment and 80% claystone, the tunnel borer can cut through the earth with the seeming ease of a biscuit or cookie cutter.

The cutting edge or shield of the boring cylinder is thrust forward while a hydraulic back-hoe device dislodges the earth captured in the core so that it can be hauled out on the conveyer belt and muck train.

Workers guide the shield (Click to enlarge)

The shield is jacked forward four feet at a time with a thrusting force of six million pounds.

A three-inch diameter probe hole is drilled 100 to 150 feet ahead of the shield of the tunneling machine and a magnetometer is inserted which determines the presence of any metals in its path.

Two tunnels, approximately 40 feet apart, are to be dug.  After the first is completed, the machine is returned to the start and digging begins on the second tunnel.

Three shifts will begin operating daily during the six months estimated to complete the one-mile tunnel, requiring about 3,000 hours of machine time.



At the bottom of the pit, crew lines the shield on the tracks (Click to enlarge)