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Lines Of The Northern District

Los Angeles Terminal District:
 The Los Angeles Terminal District included tracks located within the area of Valley Junction on the north, Main Street on the west, 6th & San Pedro Streets on the east, and and Adams Street & Long Beach Avenue on the south.

 This trackage was subject to joint operation by trains of all Districts and trainmen of all Districts were required to be conversant with rules and instructions governing the Terminal District if their duties involved rail services within the District.

 The focal point of the Terminal District was the 6th & Main Station, built by Henry E. Huntington and opened for service on January 15, 1905. This building was the first "skyscraper" in Los Angeles and started the trend of business away from the old city center at First and Spring Streets.

 The story of how Huntington got standard gauged electric cars into downtown Los Angeles is an interesting one. The original Pasadena Main Line (South Pasadena Line) entered the downtown section via narrow-gauged lines of the Los Angeles Railway on North Broadway, Main & Spring Streets. The route was changed about 1900, running the cars down Daly, Mission Road and Macy to Main. When Huntington opened his first Northern District standard-gauged lines in 1902, (Alhambra and Pasadena Short Lines), the broad-gauge cars entered Los Angeles via Mission Road, terminating at a point opposite the General Hospital; there passengers had to transfer to narrow gauge cars to complete their journey into Los Angeles. In 1902, Mr. Huntington purchased the Brooklyn Avenue car line from Los Angeles Railway and turned it over to the Pacific Electric to be standard gauged. he route took the red cars along Mission Road to Gallardo Street then to Aliso and thence via Aliso and Los Angeles Streets to First Street where they terminated. Considerable agitation against the laying of a third rail for standard-gauge operation on First Street, Main Street and Ninth Street developed, but on April 13, 1903 Huntinton was sucessful in obtaining the vital franchises. Construction of the standard-gauge line to 6th & Main was thereupon pressed and standard-gauged cars were running to the site of the Pacific Electric Station by late 1903.

 Traffic congestion caused by the changing of ends of interurban cars within Main Street Station grew so bad that an elevated line was decided upon to enable trains to loop through the Station and thence via San Pedro Street on trackage to return to their destinations. The elevated structure was constructed and opened for service on December 3, 1916. The trackage on San Pedro Street was built by the City of Los Angeles as a part of its projected Municipal Railway to San Pedro; it was leased to the Pacific Electric. On February 11, 1917, the stub tracks on the elevated structure were opened and immediately were used by trains of the Monrovia-Glendora, Pomona, San Bernardino and Riverside Lines. Northern District trains used San Pedro Street between the elevated and Aliso Street, while Southern District trains used it between the elevated and Ninth Street. Looping through the station during most of the years were trains of the Pasadena Short Line, Oak Knoll Line, Alhambra Line, Sierra Madre Line and Sierra Vista Line.

 The most notable structure of the Terminal District, aside from Main Street Station, was the bridge crossing the Los Angeles River. The original Aliso Street Bridge was constructed in 1904-05 jointly by the City of Los Angeles and the Pacific Electric. It was a steel through girder bridge with a roadway seventy-eight feet wide, the center twenty-seven feet of which was used for Pacific Electric's double track. Outside of this there were two twenty foot roadays and two sidewalks. The bridge had four seventy-five foot spans, supported on concrte piers. Neither of its approaches was elevated, and its crossing of both the Salt Lake and Santa Fe Railroads at grade was a constant source of delay and danger. Due to this bridge, Pacific Electric trains were limited to three cars. On June 9, 1940 the bridge was closed for demolition and PE trains were rerouted over a shoo-fly which crossed the Macy Street Viaduct; a detour of .18 miles with heavy grades and sharp curves complicated by the joint use by cars of the Los Angeles Railway. By Sunday, July 18 1943, the outbound track over the new Aliso Street Viaduct was ready for use and the inbound track followed it into service on July 22. The new viaduct not only eliminated grade crossings with the steam railroads, but was part of the Ramona-Santa Ana Freeway project. Its total cost was $3,604,496 of which PE's share was $231,000. Although it provided PE with relief from delay caused by steam railroads such an influx of automobiles and trucks was funnelled upon the viaduct that instead of speeding up interurban service it served only to cause severe delays.

 That section of the Terminal District between Gallardo Street and Valley Junction was obtained by PE from the Southern Pacific. This strategic right-of-way was first used by the San Gabriel Valley Rapid Transit Company, a narrow gauge steam railroad built in 1888 from the east bank of the Los Angeles River opposite Aliso Street to Arcadia and Monrovia with a branch to Pasadena. The SP purchased the company in 1895 and proceeded to rehabilitate that portion between Shorb and Pasadena and between Shorb and Monrovia. The railway between the river and Shorb was not used until SP turned it over to PE in 1902. In 1906 the PE, through the Los Angeles Interurban, built a double-track standard-gauge electric line from the river through what later became Macy Street Yard and Valley Junction to a juncture with the Pasadena Short Line at Indian Village. This "Shorter Short Line" entered service in late 1906. The remainder of the old SGVRT right-of-way was immediately used by PE from Valley Junction to Raymond Avenue as its new Covina Line route.

 In 1917 the major repair facilities at Macy Street Yard were constructed. These included a car inspection house, 246' x 85', a repair shop, 160' x 150', a two-story trainmen's building, 32' x 32' and a storehouse, 22' x 25'. These improvements cost $150,000 and made the Northern District independent of the main repair shops at Torrance except for the very heaviest repairs.


6th & Main to 1st & Main.64
1st & Main to Aliso & San Pedro.40
Aliso & San Pedro to Enchandia Junction1.34
Enchandia Junction to Valley Junction.73
(via Main Street) Total3.11
(via San Pedro Street) Total3.37

 Trackage of the Terminal District in the streets of the City of Los Angeles was all of 128-lb. girder rail. From Mission Road and Aliso to Enchandia Junction the main line was laid with 75-lb. rail, the local with 60-lb. rail and from Enchandia Junction to Valley Junction the double track was laid with 90-lb. rail.

Freight Operations:
 State Street Yard at Valley Junction served as the marshalling point for freight to and from the Northern District. It has a capacity of 225 cars, smallest of PE's five freight yards.

 Due to franchise restrictions and to short radius curves, PE was unable to operate freight service over San Pedro Street or Main Street. The considerable number of cars destined from or received by the Southern District had to be handled by SP. This bridge arangement began in March, 1920. It provided that SP would make the transfer between PE's yard at 8th & Alameda Streets and Macy Street via SP rails on Alameda Street. SP charged PE 90 per car for this service. In October 1929, the bridging between 8th Street and Macy Street was discontinued on account of restrictions imposed on the movement of SP trains on Alameda Street and the present bridging between Butte Street Yard and State Street Yard began. This haul is 4.29 miles in length and is over rails of the Union Pacific, for the use of which SP has to pay an average of 35 per car.

Main Street Abandonment:
 PE's last cars to run on Main Street in regular service traversed the thoroughfare on October 21, 1950 — the Watts-Sierra Vista Line. There followed a short period wherein a daily franchise car ran, but this ended on December 28, 1950. The official abandonment of PE trackage on East Ninth Street from San Pedro Street to Main Street, Main Street from Ninth to First, First from Main Street to Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles Street from First to Aliso Street and Aliso Street from Los Angeles Street to San Pedro Street took place at 12:01 AM December 29, 1950.

Macy Street:

Aliso Street:
 More than any other street, Aliso Street was the throat of the Northern District. From Aliso and San Pedro Streets to Aliso and Mission, every train and car on the Northern District was funneled through this narrow seven blocks of congested street running. Pacific Electric tracks actually reached as far west as Los Angeles Street but the short blcok from San Pedro Street to Los Angeles Street was a part of the loop through the downtown district formed by San Pedro Street, Sixth Street (or the elevated tracks through Main Street Station), Main Street, First Street, Los Angeles Street and Aliso Street.

 Not only did all Northern District equipment have to traverse Aliso Street, but such rolling stock as was stored at Macy Street during the day for other than Northern District lines had to deadhead through this vital link. In addition, freight motors bridging the gap between Butte Street Yard on the Southern District and/or Eighth Street Yard could only reach State Street Yard via San Pedro and Aliso Streets.

 Thus Aliso Street was usually a beehive of activity insofar as Pacific Electric was concerned. No other single street offered a better display of so many different types of equipment, which in the course of almost any short period of time ran the gamut from city car to heavy interurban train, from box motor to electric locomotive.

 Progress came early to Aliso Street in the shape of the multi-million dollar Union Passenger Terminal opened by the three steam railroads (Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, Union Pacific) in May, 1939. This brought a heavy addition to the vehicular traffic using this throughfare and heightened the red cars' battle for street space.

 Next came the freeways with Aliso Street picked as the connecting link between the Hollywood Freeway on the west and the Santa Ana-San Bernardino Freeways on the eaStreet First step was the construction of a huge new viaduct over the Los Angeles River and Mission Road. Pacific Electric participated in the cost of this mammoth structure paying $350,000 as its share of the improvement. With the opening of the first segment of the San Bernardino Freeway (then called the Ramona Freeway), in August of 1943, a flood of autos and trucks descended upon Aliso Street. The Santa Ana Freeway added still further astronomical increases to the traffic flow in August, 1949. With each new freeway extension, more and more autos and trucks entered Los Angeles via Aliso Street further hampering Pacific Electric's use of that street. One by one interurban lines were abandoned and buses appeared in steadily increasing numbers. The final act occured in July, 1950 when the State of California notified Pacific Electric that is was ready to rebuild Aliso Street itself to conform to freeway design. Pacific Electric could not (or would not) pay the costs of relocating its tracks so the stage was set for the disappearance of the big red cars from the street whereupon they had been seen for almost fifty years. On Sunday September 30, 1951 (the day after abandonment of the last two lines on the Northern District) PE cars ran along Aliso Street for the last time; Pasadena Short Line and Sierra Vista cars deadheading back into the city.

Edited by Ira L. Swett, April, 1953, Associate Editor Lazear Israel, Editorial Assistant RE Younghans, converted to web format by John Heller, August, 1996.

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