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Lines Of The Western District

WThe Western District of the Pacific Electric Railway Company comprised the network of lines formerly belonging to the Los Angeles Pacific Company plus two major and one minor car lines; the Glendale-Burbank Line, the San Fernando Valley Line, and the 8th Street local line in Santa Monica.

WThe Western District was based on the Hill Street Station-Subway Terminal depots in Los Angeles and was virtually independent of PE's Northern and Southern Districts, which to a certain degree complemented each other.

WThe Western District (or Western Division as it was then known) was created in 1911 at the time of the Great Merger. This saw the modern Pacific Electric system created from these companies; Old Pacific Electric, Los Angeles Pacific, Los Angeles Interurban, Los Angeles & Redondo, Riverside & Arlington, San Bernardino Valley Traction, Redlands Central and the San Bernardino Interurban Railway. This consolidation became effective on September 1, 1911.

WAs of December, 1916, the Western District totalled 260 miles of trackage, divided into 12 lines over which operated 395 trains each day comprised of 566 cars.
Lines and Equipment:
WLines of the Western District may be said to have fallen into distinct groupings. The lines out West 16th Street (Venice Boulevard) to the western beaches form one group; the Hollywood lines form another; the Glendale-Burbank Line and the San Fernando Valley Line were quite distinctive, while the Lagoon Line, the Santa Monica Canyon Line and the Santa Monica local lines formed another geographic entity. And slashing across the Western District in dramatic fashion was the Santa Monica Air Line whic tied the the Western District to the rest of the system; only three switches wed the west to the North and South; one at 6th & Hill in downtown Los Angeles, one at Amoco Junction on the Long Beach Line, and one at Redondo Beach.

WJust as the Northern and Southern Districts boasted unique attractions, so did the West. From the Long Wharf north of Santa Monica Canyon to Cliffton, south of Redondo, PE rails armored the coastline but a scant few feet above high tide mark. Rock-ribbed Cahuenga Pass knew well the comings and goings of the Big Red Cars; were not 59,000 cubic yards of rock removed at the crest to make a 950-foot long cut 26 feet deep to give an easier grade? And what about the Hill Street Tunnels--546 and 975 feet long--which gave Hollywood cars a direct entry to downtown? And of course the West had the Subway--a mile of it, crowned with one of the Coast's largest office buildings.

WAs to equipment, the West did suffer in comparison; it had no steel interurban cars regur\larly assigned at any time--and not until the half-dozen Tens came over in 1946 did the West have cars larger then the 950's which opened the West's major interurban lines to standard gauge operation in 1907. True, the West enjoyed the system's only PCC cars--but there wre only thirty of them. Through the years, the Western District relied on the 800s and 950s for interurban service, and on the 200, 400, and 600 classes for surburban and city service. Minor types filling out the picture were Birneys, steel 100s and the steel 170s, inherited from Southern Pacific.
WIn the freight picture, the West did not loom large. The western Los Angeles area was a consuming section by nature; it had no large industries other than motion picture studios and aircraft plant, neither of which seemed to need much freight service from PE.
WCar maintenance was centered at Sherman, today known as West Hollywood. Here, Los Angeles Pacific maintained large car repair shops which were at once closed by PE upon the Great Merger's taking effect. Sherman remained active as a car house and minor repair point until final abandonment, but all major work was performed at PE's 7th & Central Shops until Torrance Shops opened, when it was transferred to that point.

WAs of 1927, the Western District had ten interurban lines (Inglewood Line, Glendale-Burbank Line, Redondo via Playa Del Rey, San Fernando Valley Line, Santa Monica Air Line, Brentwood (Westgate) Line, South Hollywood-Sherman Line, Hollywood-Venice Line, Santa Monica via Sawtelle Line, and the famous Venice Short Line, per of them all). It also had six local rail lines; Edendale Line, Vineyard-Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Park Avenue, Subway-Hollywood, Western-Franklin, and Lagoon Line. This tabulation, from a California Railroad Commission report, may be open to question; of the ten interurban lines, the South Hollywood (Santa Monica Boulevard)-Sherman Line would certainly seem to be more of a local operation, while both the Inglewood Line and the Santa Monica Air Line would seem to fall far short of what would ordinarily be required of a true interurban line; regular service on a fairly frequent basis.
WHowever, and here is the main point, by 1942 all remaining Western District rail lines were classified by PE as local lines. What happened to downgrade the West's interurban lines: Tremendous population growth strangled the rail lines. Their private rights of way, once free and clear for high speed operation, became cut by grade crossings at frequent intervals if not lost completely as cities established new streets. The entire area between western city limits and the ocean became one great community. Gone forever wre the open fields and gone, too, was population dependence upon the red cars for transportation. As early as 1915 a cmpeting busline opened from Los Angeles to Venice via Washington Boulevard, paralleling the Venice Short Line all the way to the beach. Autos began crowding the red cars; numerous grade crossing tragedies caused PE to curtail car speeds; expensive grade separations were tried but proved too costly for a long range program. The greatest automobile population in the nation, combined with excellent major highways, brought about the downfall of the Western District. In 1940 a "modernization" eliminated the Redondo via Playa Del Rey and the Santa Monica via Sawtelle Lines. A scant few years later the Venice Short Line went, and finally the Hollywood Boulevard Line and the San Fernando Valley Line disappeared; only the Glendale-Burbank Line was left, and when this, too, vanished in 1955 the tragedy was complete.
WHow did the Western District compare with the rest of the system? Traditionally, the Hollywood Line was PE's heaviest in point of total passengers hauled. Of the system's ten heaviest interurban lines as of 1938, three were Western District's:
Comparative Statistics: 1938

Heaviest Interurban Rail Lines, PE System
1Santa Monica via Sawtelle2,438,994 Passengers
2Long Beach2,425,563 Passengers
3Venice Short LIne2,087,139 Passengers
4Pasadena via Oak Knoll1,665,852 Passengers
5Pasadena Short Line1,560,487 Passengers
6San Pedro via Dominguez1,484,042 Passengers
7LA-Riverside-San Bernardino1,229,712 Passengers
8Long Beach-San Pedro1,166,273 Passengers
9Alhambra-Temple City1,155,660 Passengers
10Glendale-Burbank1,049,668 Passengers

Above totals are for total passengers carried, including free. An interesting comparison is obtained by looking at revenue passenger totals for the war years:

Subway-Hollywood Boulevard-
San Vicente Boulevard Lines:

Western District Lines in 1923 compared as follows as to fare and transfer passengers:

Venice Short Line:4,887,575 (interurban)
Glendale-Burbank:4,301,437 (interurban)
Hollywood-Venice:2,405,530 (interurban)
Santa Monica:1,932,192 (interurban)
Redondo-Del Rey:1,009,190 (interurban)
Valley:898,720 (interurban)
Hollywood-Vineyard:12,106,498 (local)
Santa Monica Boulevard:6,525,655 (local)
Edendale:5,479,476 (local)
Echo Park Avenue:1,319,151 (local)
Western-Franklin:1,104,052 (local)

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