June 12, 1938


Dropcap_t_1901 he unidentified Times photographer who took this picture at Wilshire Boulevard and Alvarado Street in 1938  had no idea we would be dissecting it today. My best guess is that this is looking south on Alvarado rather than west on Wilshire, which has that gentle curve in it at MacArthur Park.

So what do we notice? Well, in 1938, there was curb parking in both directions … and there’s one 1902 model streetcar (1938 – 1902 = 36 years) in a line of vehicles. Realize that the streetcar would be stuck if the tracks were blocked by a stalled auto or an accident.

Now look at the modern picture from Google’s street view … There’s no parking allowed at the curbs — at least at the corner, although we have parked vehicles farther down the street.

And we have a bus, which can maneuver around a stalled vehicle or an accident because it’s not on tracks embedded in the street. What if we had a mass-transit vehicle on tires that was powered by an overhead wire? Well, we had a few of them after World War II. They were called the "trackless trolleys" and enjoyed a brief popularity in Los Angeles. 

As for The Times’ series on traffic, as you might expect, Part I states the problem: Los Angeles’ streets are congested. Compared with the 1938 photo, traffic on Alvarado today doesn’t seem so bad, does it? Of course, we don’t know exactly when Google cruised the streets, although it was apparently early in the morning. You might wonder whether our grandparents managed to solve Los Angeles’ traffic problem — or at least this particular traffic problem.

And in case you are wondering about the Earle Kynette case, it’s Sunday and the court is dark.

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About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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