1920-1930 Henstell 1984

Bruce Henstell Sunshine and Wealth: Los Angeles in the Twenties and Thirties, Chronicle: San Francisco, 1984. 132 pp. 1924, 1920s,

     "The Pacific Electric. A visitor arriving in Los Angeles in the 1920s would have been immediately impressed by the size of the Pacific Electric, Southern California's streetcar system. Biggest in the world! some native was sure to boast, with 1,000 miles of track connecting cities from San Fernando to Balboa. In 1924, 109,650 passengers rode the rails. Via a PE Big Red Car or a Yellow Car of the Los Angeles Railway, which operated within L.A. city limits, it was only an hour from the surf at Santa Monica to downtown and another forty-five minutes to Pasadena. There was a subway, and there was Mt. Lowe, the magical incline railway behind Pasadena that lifted you up the sheer face of a mountain and then twisted around until you reached the summit and the Alpine Tavern. You could see clear to Catalina and everything in between.

     "The native was sure to suggest to the tourist that the best and cheapest way to see Southern California was aboard a Big Red Car. There were 6,000 trains each day over 115 different routes, and the basic fare was five cents . . . Or the beach cities, Hollywood and Beverly Hills along the Balloon Route . . .

     "In 1915, the president of the PE called Los Angeles an "electric railway paradise." It was. Graceful new cars glided over miles of unobstructed right of way, past spectacular scenery, delivering passengers in, as the company boasted on its logo, speed, safety, comfort. Yet, by 1920, for all its apparent health, the system had begun to die. Its death throes were spasmodic and ultimately irreversible.

     "Los Angeles was growing up too fast. There were too many people to serve and they were taking up residence in places increasingly distant from the tracks the PE operated. . . . " p. 23

[p. 27 photo of the Ocean Park Beach ca.1920?]

     "The Beaches . . . On the July 4 weekend in 1925, for example, three-car streetcar trains arrived every four minutes through the day and every one was jammed . . . " p. 27

     " . . . Now, on the night of June 30, 1919, [U.S. enacts National prohibition] . . .

     "A long line of cars crowded the roads to Venice and special three-car trains of the Pacific Electric were in service to convey the estimated 100,000 drinking men and women who wanted to bid farewell to inebriation while at the sea. At the Ship Cafe alongside the Venice pier, tables were $300 each. Harlow's, the Strand, the Ocean Inn and every other watering hole in Venice and neighboring Ocean Park locked their doors by 10:00 p.m. against the endless crush of revelers." pp. 58, 59

     ". . .

     " . . . The Ocean Park or Fraser Pier burned twice in the 1920s." p. 106

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 Kelyn Roberts 2017