Before the Blue Line

The trip between Los Angeles and Long Beach has deep roots stretching way back before Metro Rail launched the Blue Line in 1990. This timeline covers some of the key events in the history of travel between the two largest cities in Los Angeles County, beginning in the earliest days of the 20th century.

1901-01-01 00:00:00

Long Beach Pike Construction

Long Beach attracted Southern Californians with the Plunge at the Pike, an elaborate seaside amusement park

1902-01-01 00:00:00

Long Beach Pike Opening Day

The Pike opened the same year as Pacific Electric service from Los Angeles to Long Beach

1902-07-04 00:00:00

Los Angeles and Long Beach are linked via rail

Long Beach locals gather in summer attire to celebrate the first day of Pacific Electric “Red Car” service between their city and Los Angeles. Long Beach’s population grew from just over 2,000 in 1900 to nearly 18,000 in 1910.

1910-01-01 00:00:00

Pacific Electric cars in Long Beach

Just a few years after rail between Los Angeles and Long Beach opened, traffic was bustling.

1920-01-01 00:00:00

Lynwood Pacific Electric Station

This structure was demolished in the late 1980s to make way for the I-105 “Century” Freeway.

1920-02-01 00:00:00

Lynwood Pacific Electric Station

This structure was demolished in the late 1980s to make way for the I-105 “Century” Freeway

1920-03-01 00:00:00

Ocean Boulevard Station

Pacific Electric’s Ocean Boulevard Station in Long Beach, later replaced by the Hotel Stillman.

1924-03-01 00:00:00

Population Boom.... And Traffic Along With It

Long Beach is growing, and so is its traffic. In ten years, more than 10 times the number of automobiles!

1925-01-01 00:00:00

Ocean Boulevard

Pacific Electric streetcar on Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach. Note the small child watching from the sidewalk.

1931-01-01 00:00:00

Early Highway Planning

By the early 1930s, planners began preparing the city and the public for an extensive network of highways.

1931-03-01 00:00:00

Ocean Avenue Park, Long Beach, circa 1930

Long Beach continued to grow as a city and recreational destination well into The Great Depression.

1931-04-01 00:00:00

Long Beach Continues to Grow

This aerial photograph shows a packed beach with considerable open land near the coast.

1931-05-01 00:00:00

Los Angeles Continues To Grow As Well

Los Angeles continues to grow as well, with population increases outpacing every other major American city.

1937-01-01 00:00:00

And Travel Times Grow Longer And Longer

Map illustrating average drive times from downtown Los Angeles. Downtown Long Beach is nearly an hour away on insufficient roads.

1937-02-01 00:00:00

Pacific Electric streetcar headsign

Close-up of Pacific Electric streetcar bound for Long Beach, taken by noted Los Angeles photographer Herman Schultheis.

1937-03-01 00:00:00

Red Line to Long Beach

Pacific Electric streetcar headed from Los Angeles to Long Beach.

1940-01-01 00:00:00

Los Angeles to Long Beach in the 1940s

As the two cities grew, the streetcars competed with vehicular traffic in moving people between the two biggest population centers in Los Angeles County.

1940-01-01 00:00:00

East Long Beach depot

Pacific Electric freight depot in East Long Beach, since demolished.

1940-04-01 00:00:00

Long Beach Station

Sailors outside the Pacific Electric and Southern Pacific Railroad Long Beach Station, since demolished.

1942-01-01 00:00:00

Watts Depot

Pacific Electric Watts Depot. Currently a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument and on the National Register of Historic Places.

1942-03-01 00:00:00

Watts Depot

Pacific Electric Watts Depot. Currently a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument and on the National Register of Historic Places.

1947-01-01 16:25:42

Express car to Long Beach

New, modern Pacific Electric “Red Car” stopping in front of a hotel. The line stopped running in 1963.

1961-04-09 00:00:00

End of the Line for Streetcar Services

In the final days of Red Car service to Long Beach, Alan Fishel filmed the route for posterity on March 31, 1961.

1980-01-01 00:00:00

LACTC Metro Blue Line Poster

The Long Beach/Los Angeles Rail Transit Project, Ride the blue line to the future.

1984-02-01 00:00:00

Rendering of proposed light rail vehicles

Two-car railcar as envisioned at Compton Transit Center on future Metro Rail Blue Line

1984-03-01 00:00:00

Restoring Rail Service to Long Beach

By the 1980s, plans were introduced to restore passenger rail between Los Angeles and Long Beach.

1985-10-31 00:00:00

Metro Blue Line Groundbreaking

Less than five years after Los Angeles County Transportation Commission officials break ground, passengers will once again be riding between Los Angeles and Long Beach Caption: Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley at Blue Line groundbreaking.

1989-01-01 16:25:42

Los Angeles County Transportation Commission prepares the public for light rail

The LACTC promoted the convenience and ease of light rail to Los Angeles County residents, and educated them on construction, access, safety, fares and other basic principles of public transit.

1990-01-01 00:00:00

Aerial photography of Metro Rail alignment between Los Angeles and Long Beach

The Metro Blue Line tracks are shows in the foreground snaking their way between Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles in the distance. Pacific Electric’s rail line from the early 20th century laid the foundation for the 22 miles of tracks.

1990-02-07 00:00:00

SCRTD Metro Blue Line Poster

Southern California Rapid Transit District promoted rail development with bus line connections.

1990-03-01 00:00:00

Mayor Tom Bradley and Supervisor Ed Edelman

Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley speaks to dignitaries and the public at the dedication of Metro Rail’s first project: The Metro Blue Line. He is joined at the podium by Los Angeles County Supervisor Ed Edelman. The Metro logo on the podium is for LACTC’s Metro Rail and predates the foundation of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority by three years. The LACMTA later adopts a modified “M” logo in use to this day.

1990-04-01 00:00:00

Dignitaries preside over dedication ceremonies

Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn and LACTC Chair Nick Patsaouras at dedication ceremony.

1990-05-01 00:00:00

Ed Edelman goes for a ride

One of the first riders of the Metro Blue Line is Los Angeles County Supervisor Ed Edelman who was integral to Metro Rail’s development and launch.

1990-06-01 00:00:00

Out with the old, in with the new!

A mock-up Pacific Electric “Red Car” streetcar makes way for sleek, modern light rail service in Los Angeles. The Southland returns to its proud transportation roots as new streetcars once again move people by rail.

1990-07-01 00:00:00

Metro Rail staff prepare the cars

A lot of work goes into launching new rail service. Maintenance workers ensure that everything looks and feels perfect on Metro Rail’s big day – the return of rail service to Los Angeles after more than 30 years.

1990-07-14 00:00:00

Frank Romero Metro Blue Line Opening Commemorative Poster

Poster commissioned as part of the Metro Blue Line Opening Arts Celebration by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission’s Art for Rail Transit program.

1990-08-01 00:00:00

The moment has arrived!

Five years after groundbreaking, the Metro Blue Line project comes to fruition as the first train rolls out just south of downtown Los Angeles and bursts through a celebratory banner.

1991-01-01 00:00:00

Metro Blue Line in the news

An article titled “Californian Change of Heart” trumpeted the debut of Metro Rail in Public Transport International, a leading global transportation publication.

Before the Blue Line

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