Battle of Wilton Place Over “Trackless Trolleys” – 1947

WiltonPlace

Wilton Place was the scene of a “sit-down” demonstration against the Los Angeles Transit Lines in 1947 when residents, seen above on the 500 block of South Wilton Place, protested the installation of an electrical grid to run the trackless trolleys in a three mile loop that continued west on Third Street to Fairfax Ave.

“There is no reason why the Los Angeles Transit Lines has to mar the appearance of our street,” was the quote assigned to this 1947 photo in the Herald-Examiner Collection. Seated on the table is area resident Fred Underwood who must have led the charge.

LA’s public transportation at the turn of the century operated with multiple rail companies operating on two different gauge sizes of tracks, and moved from trains to trolleys to diesel buses to light rail to subways – all the time battling the automobile traffic that has had a growing presence across the southland. Details of the history of the trolley bus can be found on the Electric Railway Historical Association site for those interested in the evolution of public transit in LA.

The Wilton line was only the third, and became the last, trolley line to be electrified. It stayed intact when the LA Metropolitan Transit Authority unified the system in 1958 but was scrapped in 1963 when the LAMTA announced the end of all electric operations and the Wilton route became motorized.

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In the 'Battle of Wilton Place', residents watch as test shows how the trackless trolley would make turns on Wilton, under proposed new terminal. Photo credit: 1947 Herald Examiner Collection courtesy of LAPL.

In the ‘Battle of Wilton Place’, residents watch as test shows how the “trackless trolley” would make turns on Wilton. Caption and photo credit: 1947 Herald Examiner Collection courtesy of LAPL.
Residents at the corner of 5th Street and Wilton Place are shown protesting the erection of poles to be put in the ground by the Los Angeles Transit Lines. The poles will be used for a trackless trolley "loop." Photo credit: 1947 Herald Examiner, from LAPL collection.
Residents at the corner of 5th Street and Wilton Place are shown protesting the erection of poles to be put in the ground by the Los Angeles Transit Lines. The poles will be used for a trackless trolley “loop.” Caption and photo credit: 1947 Herald Examiner, from LAPL collection.

 

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About Julie Grist

Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

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