There is no denying that Los Angeles is a city shaped by the automobile. But before that, this was a city made by the railroad. Urban archaeologists can explore that history on Sept. 24 with a guided tour hosted by the Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation.
As foundation executive director Joe Lesser describes it, tour participants will “look for vestiges of a railroad that was.”
The Pacific Electric Railway, founded by Henry Huntington, began running its famous red streetcars in 1902. These distinctive cars connected Los Angeles and the outlying areas with downtown and kept the city humming with activity.
Traces of the line are still visible, from the paved-over tracks to the lampposts that held power lines--if you know where to look. Tour guide Ralph Cantos will point out these remnants of the past to participants.
Lesser says that the foundation understands “the importance of reaching out” to people, so the public can understand how it all happened.
The LARHF offers satellite displays at locations throughout the city, hosts a wealth of information at its Alhambra headquarters and conducts tours.
It was the rail lines that brought newcomers to Los Angeles and rail lines that knit the growing metropolis together. “It’s our history,” Lesser continues, “and to understand what we are today you’ve got to go back to the railroads.”
The tour leaves from Patsouras Transit Plaza at 9:30 a.m. aboard a chartered bus. For three hours, Cantos will show participants around the city, looking for traces of the railroads that once dominated Los Angeles. Historical photographs of different stops will be shown on monitors, to contrast the past and present.
Just 46 seats are available, and tickets are only $25. This includes the tour, validated parking at the station and a free copy of the book Destinations: How Trolleys and Postcards Helped Create the Southern California Dream, 1898-1950s.
Learn more and buy tickets at www.larhf.org.