Downtown train service to Santa Monica, 1892

Downtown train service to Santa Monica, 1892This marvelous photo shows the arrival of a train from downtown L.A. into Santa Monica in 1892 (on what would have been the Los Angeles-Santa Monica Railroad, which later merged along with other lines to become the Los Angeles Pacific Railroad.) Given the huge success of the Expo line extension to Santa Monica, it seems there was a demand for public transport to Santa Monica beach right from the get-go.

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6 Responses to Downtown train service to Santa Monica, 1892

  1. Al Donnelly says:

    I think we are looking at the then Southern Pacific station here (printed at the bottom). The line would ultimately continue down through a tunnel to the station in Santa Monica canyon and on to the long wharf from there. Los Angeles & Pacific (or LAP) was a fore-runner of Pacific Electric western district lines, but the Espee line was turned over to PE operation as another matter. It was known as the Santa Monica Air Line. The LA County Railroad ran the route out of downtown through eastern Hollywood as the fore-runner of the main PE-Hollywood-BH-SM route. The earlier narrow gauge steam dummy line ran past Bimini through Colgrove (south Hollywood) to Hollywood, but was abandoned before the new route was established. LA Railway covered this section with their Vermont service.

  2. Al Donnelly says:

    Here’s the citation from Interurbans Special 16 (Ira Swett et al): “Built in 1875 as a steam railroad from Los Angeles to Santa Monica; name: “The Los Angeles & Independence Railroad.” First train ran on October 17th of that year. Sold to Southern Pacific on July 4, 1877. In 1891 SP built the Long Wharf half a mile to the north of Santa Monica Canyon and this line became a freight and passenger hauler of prime importance. The government’s decision to build a breakwater at San Pedro doomed both Redondo Beach and Port Los Angeles (the Long Wharf) and in 1908 SP leased the railroad line and the wharf to Los Angeles Pacific which electrified the portion between Sentous and the Long Wharf in that year; the remainder of the line was electrified three years later.” [That’s when the Great Merger of 1911 turned the Old PE into the New PE. There was a branch to Soldiers’ Home (Westwood). All electric was abandoned in 1953 and converted to diesel service.] You were right about LAP, but it was a subsidiary to Espee electric operation by then, with the Sherman and Clark era long out of the picture.

  3. Al Donnelly says:

    The left hand version of this view, shot from the tower of the Arcadia Hotel, was shown in Howard Gregory’s Then & Now Southern California’s Seacoast (HGA Redondo Beach, 1981). The area to the northside is an amusement park surrounded by an elevated miniature railway (an early Disneyland). The rail line drops into a culvert running below a north-south roadway bridge (out of view here), and heads to the right curving tunnel leading to today’s PCH alignment. The Santa Monica freeway was built over all of this. The area between the trains was planted as a multi-colored flower bed (seen in postcards). Santa Monica was the place to be in 1892.

  4. Al Donnelly says:

    A little more digging gets this…In 1875, the railroad ran into a stub end reserve just about where the station is on the left. To get to the original ocean pier, a curve track ran on the right, where we see the second train, and down to the beach. This was known as the “Shoo Fly” pier, a probable reference to the run around or shoo-fly track. The Espee condemed the pier (which was about 100 feet south of today’s Municipal Pier) and changed the route to the canyon and tunnel going north onto the shoreline on the east-side of today’s PCH. The small wooden building must be the Hotel Santa Monica (most likely the 2nd structure as the first had burned) as built before a remodelling. The station planter bed would soon recieve those classic palm trees that become the symbol of Southern California.

  5. Al Donnelly says:

    Martin, I have to ask where you found this shot. Comparing photos, I now believe this may date to c.1888. To cross the original rail line, one had to go as far east as Sixth Street. With a construction boom to the south at Ballona Creek in 1887, the effects spilled over to Santa Monica. The Arcadia (where the photo was set up) was built late that year by the owner of the Hotel Santa Monica. Ocean Avenue’s crossing seems to go with this period. The original Santa Monica burned in January 1889. This might be it, as the second hotel looks very different in an 1896 view. An 1892 shot (cited above) shows the plants have grown considerably by then. Espee construction through McClure Tunnel and on to Long Wharf ran from 1891 to 1893. For access, the rail line has turned to an alignment slightly north after passing the station in 1896. By then, the electric railway line coming in from the north begins to change the focus of arrivals to the city and sets the stage for a new era.