Roundup: January 8, 2014

Almansor Court – 700 S. Almansor, Alhambra, CA.
Social Hour: 5:00 PM
Dinner: 6:00 PM

Speaker: A. C. W. Bethel, Ph.D. 
Subject:  Los Angeles Transit Planning in the 1920s

Click here to view photos from the event.

Corral member Walt Bethel will speak on a topic that still affects each of us who live in the Los Angeles area on a daily basis.  Early in the 20th century a network of fast, electric interurban railway lines, the Pacific Electric, linked most towns and cities in the Los Angeles metropolitan area with downtown Los Angeles. By the 1960s, nothing of it remained. Some writers have attributed this to a conspiracy by automobile-centered industries to replace rail transit with diesel buses, but the real explanation lies elsewhere. By the early 1920s Los Angeles was becoming a truly decentralized city, and any adequate transportation system would need to be able to take people from anywhere to anywhere else, not just deposit them in an increasingly irrelevant downtown. But when the Pacific Electric proposed a cross-town subway to connect its eastern and western lines, the City Council looked instead for an ideal urban transit system. The result was an unbuildable proposal, and the PE, sidelined, was never able to link its system together.

Walt taught philosophy for 40 years at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Now retired from teaching, with some regret, Walt has shifted to a new career focusing on California history. He has written articles, reviewed books, and delivered presentations on California’s rich and complex transportation history in several professional venues. Even before retiring from Cal Poly, he had reviewed history books for the Pacific Historical Review, California History, and Southern California Quarterly, in addition to our own Branding Iron. Since then he has published articles on California’s rich transportation history in these last three journals. He also edits the quarterly newsletter for the California Council for the Promotion of History and serves on the Council’s Board of Directors.  His paper tonight owes its beginnings to a fascination with rail transportation formed in his Hollywood childhood, when riding the Red Car downtown was an adventure.

Click here to view photos from the event.

Jim Macklin
Deputy Sheriff