My dad sitting in the drivers seat of a Yellow Car at the end of the “J” line in Huntington Park.
One of my dad’s earliest, most exciting memories was taking the Los Angeles Railway Yellow Car (LARY, or LA Yellow Car) with his mother from their house on 53rd Street in South Central to downtown LA. There they’d eat at Clifton’s Cafeteria (home to the world’s longest continuously lit neon light). So when the LA Yellow Cars made their final run on Sunday, March 31st 1963, a 16-year old Jim Seal grabbed his Argus camera and took the following photos.
LA’s streetcars clearly captured my dad’s imagination at an impressionable age. Now an independent transportation consultant for private rail and bus operators nationwide, he says he was “enthralled by the architecture of LA’s narrow gauge streetcar network and extensive infrastructure”.
Whether you’re passionate about light rail or not, it’s hard to look at these photos and not curse the Great American Street Car Scandal that helped dismantle the most extensive interurban rail system in the world at the time. Many of these trains, made in the Los Angeles Railway’s own shops in south LA, ended up stacked on top of each other on Terminal Island, in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, or – strangely enough – in Egypt and Chile. The Cairo Transport Authority bought over 133 Yellow Cars in 1965 and used them until 1984 while the Chile Mining Company bought 25 of the cars to be used for transporting miners.
- The “J” and the “R” lines at the west end of the “R” line at 3rd Street and Highland.
My grandma, Grace Seal, at the end-of-the-line loop in Huntington Park.
Grace, poking her head out of a Yellow Car.
Looking down Broadway in Downtown via the “P” line. Ending at Rimpua Ave, this was the most heavily traveled streetcar line in the system. Its high patronage helped all the other lines survive as long as they did.
This car ran as a “Special” charter on all routes for the last day of operation of MTA’s Yellow Car streetcar lines.
The Georgia Street car barn where all the streetcars were dispatched out of everyday. The LA Convention Center is now located here.
Broadway and 7th Street in Downtown. Side note: this Bank of America sign can be seen in the background in the 1950 Film Noir classic DOA.
The “J” Line ran from Jefferson Park to Huntington Park by way of Jefferson Boulevard, Central Avenue, Vernon Avenue, and Pacific Boulevard.
Vernon and Long Beach Avenue. These tracks were originally used for LA’s Red Car which was abandoned two years prior to this and then used by Union Pacific freight trains which still run today. These tracks run alongside today’s MTA Blue Line – the most heavily used light rail line in America.
Time traveling hipster?
Central Ave and Florence heading south to Manchester Ave on the “S” line. This line served Good Year Tire factory employees. The cars would line up at shift breaks for workers to use.
The tower in the background is what remained of the Richfield Tower. It was completely demolished 6-years later in 1969.
Nope, that’s not San Francisco, it’s LA in 1963.
After their final run, the Yellow Cars are being put into dead storage in the Vernon Yard never to operate again on LA’s streets.
You can see more of these photos of the LA Yellow Car here. Get in touch with the author @JeffOSeal. Read more from the Untapped Cities LA Spotlight.