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Hill Street Station
The original Hill Street Station was constructed in 1908 by Los Angeles Pacific as a standard-gauge terminus for its lines to the west beaches via 16th Street. LAP's narrow-gauge lines to Hollywood continued to use the old Fourth Street Station, midway between Hill Street and Broadway on the south side of Fourth.
The Hill Street Station in 1908 consisted of a wood-stucco lean-to structure adjoining the old Masonic Temple, purchased by LAP previously and which served as that company's office building until the Great Merger. The lean-to station building fronted on Hill Street and to its north was a small surface yard in which cars entered, changed ends, and loaded. Standard gauging of LAP's Hollywood lines had proceeded apace and in 1909 the Hill Street Station received those lines; none too soon, for the old Fourth Street Station had burned in November, 1908, and Hollywood cars had had no downtown terminus other than sidewalk benches since.
Investment in the Hill Street Station up to the 1911 Great Merger amounted to about $32,000 whcih consisted of $7,000 for the lean-to station building, $2,000 for equipment, $1,000 for supervision, $10,000 for excavating, tracks, and specialwork, $2500 for a motor-generating set to light the depot and offices, $1,000 for overhead trolley, bonding, etc., to bring Hollywood cars into the yard, $9,000 to make track changes and additions for handling standard gauge cars from Hollywood and Colegrove.
PE took over Hill Street Station in 1911. At that time the small depot already was becoming congested. It had but four gates; of these, Gates 1 and 2 served all lines except the Venice Short Line; Gate 3 was exclusively for the VSL; Gate 4 was also during the rush hours, Sundays, and holidays---and it also served special movements or whenever it was desired to load in the rear of the depot.
By 1916 the congestion had reached a point where the city of Los Angeles, through its board of Public Utilities, asked PE to show cause why its trains should not be made single car trains on Hill Street, thus avoiding traffic delays caused by three-car trains waiting in the street for yard space. At the that time, 475 cars and trains per day left Hill Street Station. The waiting room, the ticket office, concessions, etc., were all crowded within the temporary lean-to depot,, whose dimensions were 153' by 31'. Minor improvements had been made from time to time but conditions could only be met satisfactorily by the entire rearrangement of trackage and the providing of additional station room space. PE was reluctant to provide an entirely new facility on the surface as it hoped to construct its western subway with accompanying subway terminal on this site. However, in PE's own words in 1916: "In view of the fact that there is now no early possiblity of the subway being built, it is necessary to meet their (the city's---Ed.) quite insistent demands.:
So in 1916 approval was granted for rebuilding the north side of Hill Street Station yard. This work consisted of installing new tracks (400' of new double track, 150' of new single track, three new crossovers, one new turnout), a new waiting shelter 35' by 100', at a total cost of $28,000. This new north yard was for Hollywood traians and by it, PE saved $200 monthly from elimination of deadhead car mileage for the new yard gave PE car storage room for the first time at this location. The enlarged yard and new Hollywood shelter went into service in late 1916.
Congestion was aided somewhat by the new Hollywood yard, but Hill Street Station continued to be a source of grave concern to city traffic authorities. One possible answer was advanced by PE in October, 1920: a tunnel to Figueroa Street from the Hill Street Station surface yard; this tunnel would have been a thousand feet long, would have brought Glendale-Burbank trains into the station and would have given Hollywood trains a shortcut via the Glendale Line to Sunset Boulevard. While this would have improved congestion greatly, a much greater plan was in the offing; The mile-long tunnel to Beverly & Glendale Boulevards. The story of this undertaking is told on page 42F; it afected the old Hill Street Station thusly:
Inasmuch as the new Subway Terminal would occupy all the yard area of the old Hill Street Station with the exception of the land directly to the rear of the lean-to building, it would be necessary to construct a new yard for west beach trains as well as a new depot to serve them. This necessitated the razing of the Hill Street Station and the Masonic Temple; on the site of the Masonic Temple would be erected the new Hill Street Station.
The first step was the wrecking of the Masonic Temple; the historic structure, a proud landmark for almost thirty years, was replaced by the new Hill Street Station, built in record time. Before the new depot was finished, the old lean-to station disappeared, laving passengers without a waiting room for a time. Trains continued to operate in and out of the yard, both to the beaches and toHollywood, although at quite a handicap, being forced to vie with dump trucks and steam shovels for space. The new Hill Street Station yard was built without interrupting use of the old one---the work was so planned that operation over the old tracks was continued until all that remained to do was the connecting up of new lead tracks in Hill Street. The turnouts to the south were connected on the morning of May 31, 1925, after the last car pulled out. On the morning of June 2, 1925, the lead tracks to north for the Holywood-Valley cars were installed and connected. With north and south turnouts connected to the new track layout, full use of the new station began; the contractor, P. J. Walker & Company, immediately tore down the Hollywood passenger shed prepatory to beginning additional steam shovel operations for the foundations and bsement rail terminal of the new Subway Terminal.
The new Hill Street Station's rail layout was composed of seven tracks, having a combined capacity of approximately 30 cars. Eleven switches of rather complicated design, owing to the restricted area of the yard, were necessary to permit the flexible movement and transfer of cars. Such of the special work as was not of standard stock was fabricated at Sherman in record time.
The new Hill Street Station was destined to serve patrons for but a short time. The $35,000 building, 108 feet deep and 60'9" wide, was discontinued as a passenger depot in 1926 when it was but a year old. There were three main reasons for this: (1) To consolidate all passenger handling in the Subway Terminal. (2) To eliminate a long walk from 5th & Hill into Subway Terminal for Glendale passengers returning from the west beaches (there were no unloading facilities at the surface station). (3) To make it possible to lease the surface depot.
To permit the abandonment of the Hill Street Station, the following changes in the trackage and overhead were necessary: Remove approximately 220 feet of track and one turnout, fill the old pit and provide a new pit, relocate tracks and change the overhead. In addition, umbrella sheds and a marquee were erected, and a acombination concourse and retaining wall were built at the rear, or Olive Street property line; to permit passengers to use the waiting room of the Subway Terminal, new doors and walkways were provided. This work was authorized on March 20, 1926 and construction began immediately. In November, 1926, it was decided to construct a rear entrance to the Subway Terminal waiting room from Olive Street; unless this were provided, the city would not approve abandonment of the surface station. This alone cost $9,000. With the substitution of the Subway Terminal for the Hill Street Station, the latter was remodeled into a large grocery store; it continued to serve in this capacity for thirty years, then was seriously damaged by fire. The building was torn down in May & June, 1957, and the site is a parking lot adjacent to the MTA Red Line Subway. The surface yard continued in use until the last run of the Venice Short Line franchise car on December 30, 1950. It, too, is today a parking lot.
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