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The block in the rear of the PE Building---that block bounded by Los Angeles St., 6th St., Maple Avenue, and 7th St., was occupied by the Maple Ave. School and private dwellings at the time the building was constructed. The evolution of the district from residential to business was sufficiently advanced by 1905 to persuade the Board of Education to consent to the closing of the school and the sale of the property to Mr. Huntington. Old records indicate that it was Mr. Huntington's long-range plan to add a second depot building on this property at such time as the Main St. Station was outgrown. However, such a depot was never built; instead, the block (apart from small parcels retained on 7th St. by private owners) figured prominently as the important adjunct of the Main St. Station from 1905 until final closure in 1964.
In order came these projects: the Santee St. Spur, the bridge over Los Angeles St. and its accompanying train platform, the surface terminal for Southern District cars, and elevated tracks and stubs in connection with the leased municipal railway line on San Pedro St., and the bus deck, with its Los Angeles St. motor coach depot. In addition, Glendale Line cars used a portion of the property as a terminal in the Teens, a substation was built on the Maple Ave. side, facilities for express and mail handling were added beneath the elevated structure, and miscellaneous storage tracks(converted in 1952 to bus parking areas) made the block a vital operating center for more than half a century.
SANTEE ST. SPUR: Intense congestion on Main Street caused by PE and LARy cars in rush hours became serious as early as 1905. Several suggestions were advanced to reroute PE cars and of these the one which most appealed to Mr. Huntington was the Santee Street Spur.
This plan envisaged the building of a double-track electric railway from a connection with the Long Beach Line at Ninth & Santee Streets. over Santee St. to Eight St., where Santee St. ended, then by private way due north parallel to Los Angeles St., crossing 7th St., entering the surface property then curving west into the basement of the Main St. Station. PE and its affiliate, the Los Angeles Interurban Railway, moved to effectuate this plan.
The work of constructing the Santee St. Spur was begun by the construction department of PE under LAIU's Work Order 241, dated February 26, 1906. The city at the time had approved plant to pave Los Angeles St., so work was started at that end of the spur to save the expense of opening the pavement later. A double-track was constructed from the east property line of the PE Building across Los Angeles, St., then it curved to the south to Seventh St.
Work on the Santee St. Spur was then suspended. The incomplete project was taken out of the hands of the Construction Department. by Management, and held in suspension by that department for several years, the completed portion unused and rusting. It was not until PE Auditor A.D. McDonald(later to become president of SP) billed Management on December 31, 1910, for $482 in interest due on the amount expended for the Santee St. Spur that Management turned over the small, unconnected piece of trackage to the Operating Department, more to save future interest costs than to permit possible use. This transfer occurred on March 6, 1911, but the changes due to the Great Merger made immediate action undesirable.
To this day rails remain embedded in the sidewalk at the rear of the PE Building, mute evidence of the Santee St. Spur.
THE TRAIN PLATFORM: The Santee St. Spur was succeeded in Huntington plans by a novel scheme: the construction of a steel double track of Main St. Station. The work order file and correspondence regarding this train platform have been made available to INTERURBANS and excerpts follow:
"July 2, 1909---President Huntington to PE General Manager J. McMillan: 'Referring to the work back of the building: The plan as submitted is simply a plan of the bridge across the street. Will you please send up to me a plan showing the complete track layout, not only across the building, but its extension over the property east of L.A. St.'
"July 3, 1909---McMillan to Huntington 'So far as I know such plans have not been made...However, I am having a sketch made showing the proposed structure of wood, as suggested by Messrs. Herrin and Randolph for tail room and a little storage room for a few extra cars, and will have an estimate of the cost thereof made up.'
"August 9, 1909---Private Engineer Edwin S. Cobb to McMillan: 'I am sending herewith blueprints showing the design for the Train Platform on the lot on the east side of L.A. St., in the rear of PE Building. The scheme provides for a double track, running east from LA St. with a double crossover at the westerly end of the structure. You will notice that the bridge included to connect this with the PE Building is also shown. In the layout of this train platform attention has been given to the probability of construction of a large building on this lot at some future date, and we have endeavored to arrange the columns so that other columns may in the future be placed among those whose on the drawings in such a way as to support such a building without interfering with this proposed construction and leave this train platform both mechanically and electrically independent of any building that may be built. All of this work is designed to properly support two cars, each weighting 50,000 pounds, in any position in which they can be placed upon the structure. It will weigh less than 156 tons and should not cost in excess of $17,200 including the wooden platform but not including rails and ties.'
"August 7, 1909---Cobb to McMillan: 'Am sending you blueprints showing complete drawings for steel girder bridge across LA St. and an elevated train platform extending from east end of same. Bridge along about 105 tons(bid), $12,800. Train platform 156 tons, estimated, $17,200.'
"Augusts 9, 1909---McMillan to Epes Randolph(Ed: Formerly Huntington's right hand man, forced to retire to Arizona for health reasons) at Tucson: 'I am sending you by this mail the blueprints and drawings referred to. You will understand this is simply the train platform on the lot on the east side of LA St. in the rear of the PE Building but does not include the viaduct over LA St. This for the reason that after correcting Cobb's plans and drawings for the viaduct as to grade, 15'6" at the building and 16'6" over the curb line on the east side of the street, Mr. Huntington stated the same was entirely satisfactory and instructed that I tell Llewellyn Iron Works to go ahead on the work, but he did not want to authorize him to proceed on the elevated structure over the lot until you have personally approved those plans also. As I do not want to ask for bids on this further extension until I am satisfied the plans are satisfaction and have been approved by you, I will be obliged if you will look them over at once, and if satisfactory, write in red ink somewhere on the face of the blueprint Approved, Epes Randolph. As soon as these drawings have been received back with you approval, Mr. Huntington has authorized the letting of the contract to Llewellyn.'
"August 11, 1909---Randolph to McMillan: 'I have yours of the 9th and have examined the blueprint of your track and viaduct layout. The track layout is all right. The details of the structure are also good. The tails of the structure are also good. The unit stresses to which he proposes to work his metal are entirely satisfactory. His load, however, is too light. You will note he uses two cars, each weight 50,000 lbs. If I remember correctly, our large cars are 65,000 lbs. empty. Sometimes they will carry 200 people. This will add 20,000 to 25,000 more. In determining these stresses he ought to use two cars each weighing 100,000 lbs. He should also assume a live load for his platform of 100 lbs. to the square foot. There is likely at any time to be a jam of people on the platform standing as thick as they can wedge together. Please ask him to revise his figures on this basis. The present live load is clearly too light, and the tendency will be to increase rather than diminish the weight of cars.'
"August 13, 1909---Cobb to McMillan: 'Referring to the criticism contained in Mr. Randolph's letter asking for live weights used on train platform construction, I beg to state as follows: Referring to my letter to you of August 9th, the words reading 'each weighing 50,000 lb.' should have been followed by the words 'per end'. By some oversight the words 'per end' were left out of the letter. Consequently the drawings are all correct and right for the inspection and criticism of anyone'.
"August 13, 1909---McMillan to Randolph: 'Cobb simply made a mistake in the dictation of his letter. His load weight figures should have read for 100,000 lbs. I am returning to you the blueprints by this mail as you omitted to place your approval upon them so that HEH can see it. I know it is entirely useless for me to go to Mr. Huntington's office with the bids, which have been received and which I am holding, until your personal approval upon the blueprints can be shown him at the same time, as he informed me positively he would not let the contract or consider any bids until he is shown your full approval of the plans.'"
And so the approved plans were delivered to Mr. Huntington, the contract was awarded to Llewellyn for the steel bridge and train platform and work began. Work Order No. A-137 was assigned to the total job, which would cost a total of $45,854. Apparently things did not run smoothly, as witness the following:
"November 25, 1909---McMillan to Llewellyn: 'I feel compelled to again call your attention to the dilatory and apparently careless and indifferent manner in which the work in the rear of the building is being handled. It is disgusting to say the least of it. We were very anxious to get the viaduct and switching room on the elevated tracks in service by the beginning of the holidays and from the way the work is proceeding it is evident it will not be completed for at least sixty days more, if then. Will also give you notice in this connection that I do not feel I can ever consent to awarding you contract for doing another job of this kind under my jurisdiction without providing for time forfeiture penalty under a good and sufficient surety bond to guarantee proper and satisfactory performance and completion of the work.'
"December 23, 1909---PE Engineer Barnard to McMillan: 'The track work on elevated structure in rear of PE Building will be completed and ready for operation by noon today. For the present it will be necessary to have the rear switches handled by a switchman.'
"December 23, 1909---McMillan to PE Superintendent Thomas McCaffery: 'Relative to the completion of elevated structure in the rear of building, do not make any arrangements in regard to operating on this structure without first taking the matter up with me personally.'
"December 23, 1909---PE Electrical Engineer S.H. Anderson to McMillan: 'This is to advise that the overhead over the elevated structure out of the PE Building is completed and turned over to the Operating Department at 5:00 PM this date.'
December 24, 1909, Los Angeles Times:
"The overhead runway on which heavy beach two and three car trains will be switched is nearing completion and will be placed in commission in a few days. The crossovers are laid and yesterday workers were busy putting the last of the flooring in place and making ready for operation. The buttress guards at the end are in position and only a day's work at most remains on the exposed portion of track. This elevated structure is quite imposing and extends from the PE Building across Los Angeles St. back to the alley between Los Angeles St. and Maple Ave. South Division cars will be switched here and a large amount of this work now being done on Main St. will be taken care of on the elevated tracks, eliminating the present congestion at 6th & Main Streets."
"January 18, 1910---McMillan to Llewellyn: 'I wish you would advise me about when you expect to finish your work on the elevated structure or train platform in the rear of the building. The company has some few improvements and some finishing work to be done back there which I would like to get done if possible before the first part of the work is worn out---You will remember you were to finish the hand railings in the proper manner, extending the same across the rear of the structure and over the girder bridge.'"
So the bridge over Los Angeles St. and the train platform entered service. It was soon learned that, aside from providing a little car storage space, the train platform was of dubious value in alleviating congestion---all cars from the North and South Districts still had to fight their way through the two-tracks of Main St. Station. So the need for additional terminal trackage was a vital problem immediately after the Great Merger of 1910, just as it was before.
INTERLOCKER: The switches and signals at 6th & Main Terminal were controlled by an interlocking machine located on the second floor of the PE Building overlooking the el deck. To activate this interlocker, 47,000 feet of heavy electrical cable was required. By 1926 the old rubber covered cable had deteriorated badly and it was replaced by an intricate network without interrupting service; cost about $3,600 at that time.
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