Yellow Cars – L.A. Railway

Yellow CarsThe 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.

Streetcars

Image No. Type Builder Built Retired Construction Notes
  1003 Type G Birney Car American 1920 – 1938 body only
  1069 Type G Birney Car American 1921 – 1946 body only
  1160 Type F-4 LARy 1923 – 1953 operational
  1201 Type H-4 St. Louis 1921 – 1955 operational
  1423 Type H-3 St. Louis 1924 – 1958 operational
  1450 Type H-3 St. Louis 1924 – 1958 operational
  1559 Type K-4 LARy 1925 – 1955 Operational
  2501 Type L-1 Experimental St. Louis 1925 – 1955 body only
  2601 Type M-1 Experimental St. Louis 1930 – 1950 restoration in progress
  3001 Type P-1 PCC St. Louis 1937 – 1963 Operational
  3072 Type P-1 PCC St. Louis 1938 1963 Complete Car
  3100 Type P-2 PCC St. Louis 1943 – 1963 Operational
  3165 Type P-3 PCC St. Louis 1948 – 1963 Operational
  525 Type BG Standard St. Louis 1906 – 1955 operational
  665 Type B Standard St. Louis 1911 – 1948 operational
  7 Type A-1 Maggie St. Louis 1895 – 1939 body only, on trucks
  744 Type B-2 Standard St. Louis 1911 – 1945 body only
  807 Type B-2 Standard St. Louis 1911 – 1945 body only
  836 Type B-2 Standard American 1912 – 1945 body only
  936 Type C Sowbelly St. Louis 1914 – 1945 body only, on trucks
  Descanso Funeral Car LARy 1909 – 1924 Complete car

Work Cars

Image No. Type Builder Built Retired Construction Notes
  9209 Power Car (motor flat) LARy 1913 – 1951 complete car
  9225 5-ton Derrick LARy 1912 – 1963 operational
  9310 Rail Grinder LARy 1925 – 1963 complete car
  9350 Tower Car LARy 1907 – 1963 operational
  9351 Line Construction Car LARy 1907 – 1954 operational
  9614 Flat Car LARy 1907 – 1955
  9615 Flat Car LARy 1908 – 1955