The Los Angeles Railway (LARy) was the city’s local streetcar system. The streetcars used a yellow paint scheme, so they became known as the "Yellow Cars". Guided by real estate and utility tycoon Henry Huntington, the system grew rapidly through the first decade of the 20th century, when the population of Los Angeles more than tripled. After Huntington's death in 1927, LARy was owned by the Huntington Estate until its sale to National City Lines in 1944. To help its new owners de-emphasize the use of rail equipment, it was renamed Los Angeles Transit Lines (LATL).
During the 1940s about a million people lived within about a half mile of the bus and streetcar lines of LARY/LATL. By 1950 some LATL bus lines penetrated as far as Beverly Hills on the westside, and the 5 streetcar line — the longest line — reached 13 miles south to Hawthorne. But for the most part “Yellow Car” services were concentrated in the area that today would be called "central Los Angeles", and it covered this area fairly intensively.
Ridership declined significantly in the years following World War II. The public increasingly saw the private automobile and the expanding freeway system as the preferred method of travel. In 1958 LATL was sold to the newly formed Los Angeles MTA, which instituted a program of replacing the streetcars with buses. The final five streetcar routes were converted to bus in 1963, ending an era of more than 65 years of electric railway transportation within the city.
The Museum has a collection of over 25 streetcars from the Yellow Car system, spanning the history of the company from 1895 to 1963.