VIDEO – Take a Ride on the Last Red Car! (1961)

People tend to glamorize the old Red Cars. It’s controversial to say this, but by the time they were shut down the trains were considered by a lot of people to be relics… loud, dirty, clunky, and outdated. The shame is that people didn’t fight to have them updated or replaced entirely right away. There’s no disputing that in the 1960s, freeways and cars were seen as far more exciting and glamorous. America wanted a Jetsons future, and the Red Car didn’t fit that fantasy very well.
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8 Responses to “VIDEO – Take a Ride on the Last Red Car! (1961)”

  1. Glenn says:

    Thanks for posting this, but I’m not sure what you mean that the cars didn’t help our air quality. They ran on electricity. If folks who would otherwise drive decided to take the train, that would reduce emissions.

    • lynnster says:

      The air quality comment was removed because I didn’t word it properly. I wasn’t referring to smog. There was quite a bit of added grime and dirt in the air at ground level due to the rail. Many people at the time thought cars were cleaner.

      • sinanju says:

        Subways are one thing but trolleys became fatally outdated in the mid-twentieth-century when buses became practical. Trolleys’ compete for the streets with cars and do not have the flexibility of buses. In addition, I’m guessing that as the lines were privately owned, the dedicated land that their right-of-way occupied became more valuable to sell off than use for a line that obviously was no longer making money.

        In that episode of Don Wildmon’s History Channel show “Cities of the Underworld” he floats the long-popular conspiracy theory that the eeeeevil automotive interests bought up the trolley lines to sell them off to force everybody to drive cars.

        Didn’t happen that way.

  2. Gene in L.A. says:

    Fascinating, but it would have been even better if the cameraman hadn’t thought the view of the engineer’s backside was so fascinating. People who weren’t there don’t know what it was like. Noisy? Of course, it was a railroad. Smelly? Perhaps. But it was a way of life less frantic than today and was worth more than some modern commentators might think.

  3. Ed says:

    I remember my aunt taking my brother and me on the red car, I believe out to Hollywood to see “Lassie Come Home.” Then another time she took us down to Long Beach or San Pedro to get on the S.S. Catalina to go over to the island of the same name.

  4. Tory says:

    What great footage! Thanks for posting this. I did get your point “considered” cleaner. The car was considered superior in every way as our U.S. cities did away with the lines, one by one.

    Also, as an end to end daily rider of the blue line for a time, I would sill say that the interurban light rail falls far short of being glamorous! (: But glad LA is working on putting back what should have been upgraded.

    I totally loved seeing the landscape along the old route. Totally cool footage of the single track across the LA river and the LB municipal auditorium at the end of LB Blvd.
    also interesting to see where the Newport and San Pedro lines separated.

    Thanks again for posting!!

  5. Jim says:

    This video brought back some great memories. My mom would use a ride on the Red Car as a treat for me. We would ride to downtown Los Angeles to see a movie (this was back in the days when downtown was loaded with first-run movie houses). I could listen to those units idle forever. Thanks for posting this video.

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