Did you know that in the 1950s a Houston businessman named Murel Goodell proposed building a bitchin’ 60-mile monorail system that would have traveled from the Valley to Long Beach by way of downtown, but that Beverly Hills, which wanted a subway instead, rejected the project? That’s the same Beverly Hills now begging Donald Trump to stop a subway from being built under the city.
L.A.’s transit history is chock-full of depressing and hilarious (but mostly depressing) missteps, encounters with myopia, and instances of sabotage, none more notable than the destruction of the Pacific Electric Railway System. The 1,000-plus-mile network of streetcar lines, which stretched from the ocean all the way to Redlands, was gradually dismantled, either by a nefarious cabal of pro-automobile interests or because of Americans’ changing transportation preferences, or some combination of the two.
A designer and former Angeleno named Jake Berman has made a cottage industry of making maps of transit systems of the past, present, and future. “I got the idea to make these maps when I was stuck in traffic on the 101,” he says via email. “I lived in Koreatown at the time, and was fed up with the fact that Los Angeles didn’t have better mass transit.” Inspired by Who Framed Roger Rabbit and a natural interest in infrastructure, he started doing research at the Los Angeles Public Library and making stylized maps of transit systems.
A couple of years ago, we featured a map Berman made of what the Metro system could look like in 2040 (Metro reblogged it on its Tumblr and had to clarify that it was a “dream map,” not an actual, funded plan). Since then, the agency announced its intention to complete 28 transit projects before the 2028 Olympics. If all goes as planned, Berman figures the Metro network (complete with the lines’ new letter designations) will look something like this …
Transitwise, the 28 by 28 plan includes three phases of Purple Line (aka D Line) extensions (it’ll reach the VA Hospital in Westwood), a light-rail extension to the South Bay, the Crenshaw Line, and an extension of the Gold Line (A line) that’ll go out to Montclair (one station past Claremont). The transit plan, as it’s rendered on Berman’s map, sure is robust, colorful, and, even a decade out, ambitious—there’s certainly a chance all the projects won’t be completed by the time the Olympics come to town.
But even our wildest transit fantasies can’t hold a candle to a map of the Pacific Electric Railway circa 1926. Berman made that map, too.
He made a third map, one that captures L.A.’s transportation present: a transit-style map (designed to mimic the London Underground) of L.A.’s freeways. Next time you’re sitting in rush-hour traffic on the 10 and internally screaming, picture this and imagine if we’d built rail instead of roads.
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