The Palms Depot was built in 1887 when it overlooked a grid of new streets in the subdivision of Palms, which was the only urbanized area between Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica. A few years later the Palms Depot became a part of the Southern Pacific Railroad, it was electrified in 1908 and served passenger and freight traffic until 1933 when the railroad transferred its functions to Culver Junction. The Palms Depot continued to serve the Pacific Electric Railway’s trolly service for 20 more years, until terminated in 1953. The architectural style of the Palms Depot is Eastlake, and it served as a motion picture backdrop for Laurel & Hardy and Little Rascal films. The depot was moved to Heritage Square, Los Angeles in 1975, where it was restored and is used as the Visitor Center.
Please click on the image to view in high resolution. Click here to view the depot “back in the day”.
A typical baggage cart loaded with hand luggage and mail bags is on display at the San Bernardino Railroad & History Museum. The era represented could be the Roaring 20′s, the advertising card is for a rail excursion in 1923 from Venice, California to the 13th National Orange show in San Bernardino. The excursion was operated by the Pacific Electric Railway Company, which during its heyday had electric trolleys, popularly termed “red cars” criss crossing the greater Los Angeles area. The excursion from the beach at Venice inland to San Bernardino would have been roughly 100 miles if travelling by automobile, Pacific Electric offered a special excursion fare on Washington’s Birthday, February 18, 1928 for $3.25, round trip, via their electric trolleys
Pacific Electric’s operations began declining after the second world war, and most of the rail lines were eliminated throughout the 1950′s. The scandale that arose in the 1960′s was that it was widely thought that oil company and automotive manufacturing interests were responsible for the decision to replace the interurban rail transit system with freeways, cars and buses.
Ironically, local government and transportation authorities began championing interurban rail transit again in the 1980′s and the first Metro Blue Line rail transit (subway) line began operations in 1990 and later the Red, Green and Gold Lines were added, as was the Metrolink heavy rail system linking more distant exurbs. All of this work completed or still under construction in 2012, at considerable more cost to the taxpayers and environmental impact than would have accrued if the Pacific Electric Railway would never have been abandoned.
Please click on the image to view in high resolution.