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The Los Angeles Railway (also known as Yellow Cars, LARy, and later Los Angeles Transit Lines) was a system of streetcars that operated in central Los Angeles, California, and the immediate surrounding neighborhoods between 1901 and 1963. Except for two short, 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge[1][2] funicular railways named Angels Flight and Court Flight, it operated on 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) narrow gauge tracks. The company carried many more passengers than the Pacific Electric Railway's 'Red Cars' which served a larger area of Los Angeles. The two companies shared some dual gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) / 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge track along Hawthorne Boulevard, on Main Street and on 4th Street.

Los Angeles Electric Railway
LARy logo.jpg
Locale Los Angeles, California,
and its suburbs
Transit type Streetcar
Number of lines 20
Began operation 1901[citation needed]
Ended operation 1963
Operator(s) Los Angeles Railway
Reporting marks LARy
Track gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Minimum radius of curvature ?
Los Angeles Railway route map (cover), 1942
Los Angeles Railway (Yellow Cars) network (interactive version)



Early yearsEdit

The system was purchased by railroad and real estate tycoon Henry E. Huntington in 1898 and started operation in 1901. At its height, the system contained over 20 streetcar lines and 1,250 trolleys, most running through the core of Los Angeles and serving such nearby neighborhoods as Crenshaw, West Adams, Leimert Park, Exposition Park, Echo Park, Westlake, Hancock Park, Vernon, Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights.


The system was sold in 1945 by Huntington's estate to National City Lines, a company that was purchasing transit systems across the country.[3] National City Lines, along with its investors that included Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California (now Chevron Corporation) and General Motors, were later convicted of conspiring to monopolize the sale of buses and related products to local transit companies controlled by National City Lines and other companies[n 1] in what became known as the General Motors streetcar conspiracy. National City Lines purchased Key System, which operated streetcars systems in Northern California, the following year.

The company was renamed as Los Angeles Transit Lines.[4] The new company introduced 40 new ACF-Brill trolley buses which had originally been intended for the Key System streetcar system in Oakland which was being converted by National City Lines to buses in late 1948.

Many lines were converted to buses in the late 1940s and early 1950s.[4]

Public ownership and finaleEdit

The last remaining lines were taken over by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (a predecessor to the current agency, The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro)) along with the remains of the Pacific Electric Railway in 1958. The agency removed the remaining five streetcar lines (J, P, R, S and V) and two trolley bus lines (2 and 3), replacing electric service with diesel buses on March 31, 1963.[5]

Proposed developmentsEdit


In May 2011, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the city of Los Angeles, and several stakeholders began conducting studies and public meetings to identify the feasibility of restoring streetcar service downtown.[6] The streetcar restoration efforts will further support in revitalizing Downtown Los Angeles's historic core and connect people to employment centers, shopping districts, civic resources, cultural institutions, historic landmarks and entertainment venues within the project study area. A restoration of the streetcar service is anticipated to underscore the overall renaissance occurring in the downtown area of Los Angeles.

List of former routesEdit

Geographic map of the post-1921 numbered routes

Funicular railwaysEdit

The Los Angeles Railway also operated two short, 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge funicular railways: Angels Flight at 3rd Street between Hill and Olive (1901–1969; reopened in 1996 in new location), and the lesser-known Court Flight at Court Street between Broadway and Hill in the Bunker Hill neighorhood.

Court Flight opened in 1905 as part of a business venture by R. E. Blackburn and Samuel G. Vandegrift. It was unusual for funiculars in that it was doubled-tracked for its entire length. The Court Flight Incline Railway ran for a distance of 180 feet up a 42 per cent grade between Broadway and Hill Streets, in the middle of the block between Temple and First Streets.[7] A hotel was planned for the incline, but was never built. After a serious fire, Court Flight was abandoned in 1943.[8] Its site is now part of Grand Park.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Cable Car Guy - Los Angeles Area Funiculars
  2. ^ What was There - Court Flight
  3. ^ "Finding Aid for the Los Angeles Railway Corporation Legal Records and Correspondence". the controlling interest remained part of the Huntington estate until 1945 when the Fitzgerald Brothers purchased those shares. LARy became part of the National City Lines, was renamed the Los Angeles Transit Lines, and eventually the streetcars were phased out, replaced by motor buses. 
  4. ^ a b "Book Review: Los Angeles Railway Yellow Cars". By the end of World War II, the Huntington estate sold its majority interest to Chicago-based National City Lines. LARY became the Los Angeles Transit Lines, and bigger changes were in store. Many lines were converted to bus operation through the late forties and fifties. Never mind that NCL was partially owned by bus, tire, and gasoline suppliers. Though Federal anti-trust action was taken against NCL, the damage was already done. Los Angeles was officially in love with the automobile. 
  5. ^ "Streetcars Go for Last Ride". Los Angeles Times, March 31, 1963, Page N5. Link via ProQuest.
  6. ^ Possible restoration
  7. ^ Joe Thompson. "Los Angeles Area Funiculars". 
  8. ^ "Three Forgotten Incline Railways from Southern California History". KCET. 


  1. ^ United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (1951), para 33, "We have considered carefully all the evidence offered and excluded. We think that the court's rulings were fair, and that, having permitted great latitude in admitting testimony as to intent, purpose and reasons for the making of the contracts, the court, in its discretion, was entirely justified in excluding the additional testimony offered."

Further readingEdit

  • Bottles, Scott (1991). Los Angeles and the Automobile: The Making of the Modern City. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-07395-9. 
  • Copeland, P. Allen (2002). California Trolleys In Color, Volume 1: San Diego and Los Angeles. Scotch Plains, NJ: Morning Sun Books, Inc. ISBN 1-58248-076-1. 
  • Easlon, Steven L. (1973). Los Angeles Railway Through the Years. Anaheim, CA: Easlon Publications. 
  • Fogelson, Robert (1967). The Fragmented Metropolis Los Angeles: 1850-1930. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 
  • Freidricks, William B. (1992). Henry Huntington and the Creation of Southern California. Columbus, OH.: Ohio University Press. ISBN 0-8142-0553-4. 
  • Hendricks, William O. (1971). Moses Sherman: A Pioneer Developer of the Pacific Southwest. Corona Del Mar, CA: The Sherman Foundation. 
  • Longstreth, Richard (1997). City Center to Regional Mall: Architecture, the Automobile, and Retailing in Los Angeles, 1920-1950. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. 
  • Moreau, Jeffrey (1964). The Los Angeles Railway Pictorial. Los Angeles, CA: Pacific Bookwork. 
  • Perry, Louis B. & Richard S Perry (1963). A History of the Los Angeles Labor Movement, 1911-1941. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press. 
  • Post, Robert C. (September 1970). "The Fair Fare Fight: An Episode in Los Angeles History". Southern California Quarterly. Historical Society of Southern California. 
  • Post, Robert C. (1989). Street Railways and the Growth of Los Angeles. San Marino, CA: Golden West Books. ISBN 0-87095-104-1. 
  • Sitton, Tom (2005). Los Angeles Transformed: Fletcher Bowron’s Urban Reform Revival, 1938-1953. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. 
  • Sitton, Tom (1992). John Randolph Haynes; California Progressive. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 
  • Squier, Gerald (October 2013). "Los Angeles Railway". Motor Coach Age. Motor Bus Society. 
  • Squier, Gerald (January 2015). "Los Angeles Transit Lines". Motor Coach Age. Motor Bus Society. 
  • Stimson, Grace Heliman (1955). Rise of the Labor Movement in Los Angeles. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 
  • Swett, Ira (1951). Los Angeles Railway; Interurbans Special #11. Los Angeles, CA: Interurban Press. 
  • Swett, Ira (1952). Los Angeles Railway All-time Roster; Interurbans Special #12. Los Angeles, CA: Interurban Press. 
  • Swett, Ira (1962). Los Angeles Railway Pre-Huntington Cars 1890-1902; Interurbans Special #22. Los Angeles, CA: Interurban Press. 
  • Swett, Ira (1964). Die Day In LA; Interurbans Special #35. Los Angeles, CA: Interurban Press. 
  • Thorpe, James (1994). Henry Edwards Huntington: A Biography. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 
  • Walker, Jim (1977). The Yellow Cars of Los Angeles. Glendale, CA: Interurban Press. ISBN 0-916374-25-4. 
  • Walker, Jim (2007). Images of Rail Series: Los Angeles Railway Yellow Cars. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. 
  • Wilson, Jane (1990). Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Lawyers: An Early History. Torrance, CA: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. 

External linksEdit