Pacific Electric Subway opens

Nov. 30, 1925: During opening celebrations, this 1800s era horse-drawn car, loaded with officials and guests, made the trip through the new Pacific Electric Subway.

This photo, published the next morning on the Los Angeles Times local news section front, accompanied a story that began:

Marking the beginning of a new era in transportation in Los Angeles, the city’s first section of underground electric railway was opened yesterday with appropriate exercises, including a luncheon given by the Chamber of Commerce at the Biltmore at noon, and the operation of the first train immediately afterward. The passenger list included many city and county officials, H.W. Brundige, president of the State Railroad Commission, heads of the different departments of the Pacific Electric Railway and the Chamber of Commerce and numerous other citizens of prominence.

Regular service on the new subway line will begin at 5 a.m. this morning, operating from the terminal on Hill street, with sixty-seven trains running daily over the underground line to Glendale and thirty-two to Burbank.

The completion of the new tunnel, which is one mile in length, terminating at First street and Glendale Boulevard, marks a triumph in construction of the character, only fourteen months having been required for the work. Work is still going forward on the terminal building, which it is estimated will be completed next July. The entire improvement, including tunnel and building, will represent an aggregate investment on the part of the Pacific Electric Railway Company and the Subway Terminal Corporation of $9,250,000.

Within months additional trains began service to Hollywood. Anticipated additional subway lines were never built. This subway line was a great success – especially during World War II –  but ridership dropped off quickly as freeways were expanded. In 1955, the subway line was closed and tracks removed.

In a Nov. 22, 1925, article the Times listed some facts about the new subway:

Los Angeles’ first subway is one mile long.

Begins at First street and Glendale Boulevard.

Ends at Hill street, between Fifth and Fourth streets.

Tunnel is twenty-eight feet wide and twenty-one feet high.

Thirty feet underground, downtown end; sixty feet some places.

Bore lined with steel-reinforced concrete, two to four feet thick.

New building to be thirteen stories high and contain 600 offices.

First construction work on subway began May 3, 1924.

In 2007 the Subway Terminal Building was renovated and renamed “Metro 417.”