L.A.’s Hidden Past: Where to Find Signs of Our First Lightrail


In 1950, 800 miles of track for Pacific Electric Railway’s Red Cars crisscrossed L.A. By 1960, there were 20 miles. The following year, on April 9, a teenage train enthusiast named Ralph Cantos was aboard the Red Car’s final run. Cantos is still crazy about trains. Here are his favorite places to see artifacts of L.A.’s first lightrail:

  • The Glendale-Burbank line used to emerge from the subway near Beverly Boulevard and 2nd Street. From Toluca Street, the sealed portal and a concrete P.E. power station are visible at the back of the apartments.
  • On the west side of Fletcher Drive at Riverside Drive, the steps to nowhere once led to a trestle. Across the street the trestle’s concrete pilings dot the hillside.
  • The submarine-like concrete abutments in the L.A. River at Hyperion Avenue and Glendale Boulevard once supported a Red Car bridge.
  • Near Culver and Venice boulevards, the 1907 Ivy Substation now serves as a playhouse. Another on Venice Boulevard east of Burlington Avenue houses an auto upholstery store.