Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
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.

Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car

The “J” and the “R” lines at the west end of the “R” line at 3rd Street and Highland.
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
My grandma, Grace Seal, at the end-of-the-line loop in Huntington Park.
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
Grace, poking her head out of a Yellow Car.
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA 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.
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
This car ran as a “Special” charter on all routes for the last day of operation of MTA’s Yellow Car streetcar lines.
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
The Georgia Street car barn where all the streetcars were dispatched out of everyday. The LA Convention Center is now located here.
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
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.
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
The “J” Line ran from Jefferson Park to Huntington Park by way of Jefferson Boulevard, Central Avenue, Vernon Avenue, and Pacific Boulevard.
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
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.
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
Time traveling hipster?
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
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.
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
The tower in the background is what remained of the Richfield Tower. It was completely demolished 6-years later in 1969.
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
Nope, that’s not San Francisco, it’s LA in 1963.
Untapped Cities - Vintage Photos of the LA Yellow Car
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.

 

4 thoughts on “Vintage Photos of the Last Day of the LA Yellow Car

  1. I think you confused with Yellow cars system — originally Los Angeles Railway, then in 1947 sold to L A Transit Lines, then in 1958 acquired by LA Metro Transit Authority — with the much larger Red car system — he originally Pacific Electric Railway, then in 1911 acquired by Southern Pacific Railroad, then in 1953 sold its passenger business to Metropolitan Coach Lines, then in 1958 acquired by LA Metro Transit Authority. LA TRANSIT LINES was part of National City Lines, the major part of the so-called General Motors consortium conspiracy. Pacific Electric, under SP ownership in the 20s-30s-40s, converted many rail lines to bus and was NOT part of the GM consortium. However, I’ve read that Metro Coach Lines, while not a part of National CIty Lines, was somehow connected to the GM consortium; it did convert many rail lines — eg, the Hollywood, Glendale-Burbank, and Bellflower lines — to bus. Please read Wikipedia on General Motors Streetcar Conspiracy, and the Electric Ry Hist Assn site, erha.org.

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