Sunday, March 23, 2008

High Hopes in 1954 for a Monorail

Since describing the 1951 plan for a monorail a couple of weeks ago (here), I've come across a couple of 1954 articles rounding out the story. Why do we not have a monorail system in Los Angeles, since at one point all concerned officials gave it a big thumbs-up?

In early 1954, the Board of Supervisors spent $100,000 on a feasibility survey. The study reported that the proposed monorail could carry 70 million passengers a year, but advised that it should not be taxed, and that it should be kept out of the hands of the Public Utilities Commission.

The plan was for a 45-mile route with 16 stops, going from Panorama City to Long Beach. The cost at this point was guesstimated at a little over $165 million. A major part of the construction was an underground tunnel running from Sunset to Washington, under Hill Street. According to a map printed in the Times, the monorail would parallel Long Beach Blvd. north from Ocean, turn west on Florence, then north again at Main. Once past City Hall, it would jog west and north, following Ventura, Chandler, and Van Nuys boulevards.

Eliminating smog was part of the appeal. Police Chief Parker said, "Just look at the muddy, brown haze that hangs over our streets and in our tunnels during rush hours."

It would be operational by 1959. Just think, we could be planning an anniversary celebration next year. . . but the City Council refused to approve the plans. Exempting the monorail from taxation was a stumbling block, but other dialogue was interesting. Councilman Burkhalter of the San Fernando Valley said, "There will be a coast-to-coast monorail line in 20 years that will make possible a transcontinental trip in 25 hours."

That wasn't the end of the matter, but it'll do for this post.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

L.A. isn't alone in it's opportunity passing skills.

Over at We've been working on a project for the past couple of years to document a similar discussion in Seattle. In fact, Seattle put the matter to it's citizens, who voted 'Yes' 4 times, before the fifth vote, where they finally said no more.