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The Trolley Took Us There 01.21.11

January 21, 2011

The Pacific Electric Red Car heads east towards Baldwin Park out of Downtown Los Angeles through Boyle Heights on October 31, 1943. (Note the once omnipresent gas tanks along the LA River in the background.) Photo via the Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

It was my father’s generation that rode the Big Red Car to and from downtown. Around the time the photo above was taken things were quickly changing. In 1940 the world’s first true freeway, The Ramona Freeway began with the rebuilding of the Aliso Street bridge over the L.A. River. Seen in the photo above is some of the tunnel-work being done to bypass the Pacific Electric tracks. Eventually the tracks themselves would be removed and replaced with the Ramona Freeway, later the name would change to the San Bernardino Freeway. It would be that freeway my father and his peers traded their seats on the trolley for, it would be that freeway, that ribbon of congested concrete connected in grid-like form that would be their legacy. A legacy we in 2011 are trying to replace with the lost rail lines from their past.

The San Bernardino & Hollywood Freeway transition. Where the Big Red Car was, is where lots of little cars are today.

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