At last, some close up pictures of those TVs in Silverlake

When I was doing shows at ACME in Hollywood, I drove past those cool televisions at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Fletcher at least twice a week. I always wanted to stop there sometime and take a bunch of pictures, and though I never managed to do that myself, I saw that a guy called Rob, who posts pictures at MarilynCarolin.com had done just that. In addition to the nifty pictures, there’s also this interesting history lesson:

These recycled RCAs are sitting atop the ruins of Los Angeles’ first attempt at mass transit dating back to the turn of the century. The cement forms underneath the televisions were the footings for a railroad trestle that ran across Fletcher Ave. in Silverlake for the Pacific Electric Red Car line. Even though GM took apart the Red Cars in the ’50s to sell us all on buses, what is left here of the old run from downtown to Glendale has recently been declared a historical monument.

While you’re there, be sure to check out his pictures of the old Los Angeles Zoo, yet another one of those cool LA landmarks I’ve always wanted to visit, but never have.

2 Replies to “At last, some close up pictures of those TVs in Silverlake”

  1. GM did not “take apart the Red Cars.” That’s a frequently-repeated myth.

    GM had nothing to do with the conversion of the Pacific Electric Red Car lines to buses.

    Electric trolleys disappeared because everyone started driving cars on new roadways and freeways; because new trolleys and tracks and wiring cost far more than new motor buses; because the courts decided that electrical utilities owning electric-traction transit systems were a violation of antitrust laws; and because motor-bus franchises never had the historical street-maintenance requirements that were common in electric rail franchises.

    As most transportation shifted to cars and trucks on roadways, the remaining “public transit” function was largely converted to buses. GM and some other transportation-industry companies formed several holding companies, the most important of which was National City Lines (NCL), for the express purpose of buying up financially-failing transit systems and converting them to buses.

    There was nothing secret or conspiratorial about this – lots of trolley systems were being converted to buses even where GM et al weren’t involved – NCL was just GM’s way of making money from that trend.

    But neither NCL, GM, or any other GM-related holding company had anything to with the Pacific Electric Red Cars.

    NCL did buy the LARy “Yellow Cars”, the streetcar system – i.e. electric trains that ran in the street in mixed traffic, like buses – from the Huntington interests, but it was never involved with the heavy-rail interurban PE Red Cars at all.

    It makes perfect economic sense to replace mixed-traffic streetcar trolleys with buses.

    Interurban rail transit like the Red Cars disappeared because it was a money-losing business, and taxpayers – most of whom drove cars, anyway – refused to subsidize it for many years.

    And most of the need for it was obviated by freeways.

    It was only in 1978, when taxpayers finally agreed to subsidy, that plans for interurban rail transit reappeared, and that didn’t bear fruit until 1990.

    The demise of the Red Cars and the subsequent absence of interurban rail transit in LA had nothing to do with GM.

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