From Above The Air...

Pacific Electric Subway - Toluca Portal

1925 - 1955 - 2009

By the early 1920's, downtown Los Angeles traffic was already seriously congested. The 4300-foot "Hollywood Subway" was opened in 1925 in order to get PE's "Big Red Cars" out of the central city more quickly. Busses gradually replaced the trolleys, and the last train through the subway ran on June 19, 1955. The subway ran from Hill Street near 4th, to "Toluca Yard" near the intersection of Glendale Blvd and Second Street.

For a detailed history of the subway, see the Electric Railway Historical Society's
"Pacific Electric Hollywood Subway"


As Ira Swett described the following three pictures (from his Lines of Pacific Electric - Western District)

"Morning, noon, and night at Toluca Yard"

1925: Under Construction


1940: The Peak Years Are Approaching
Note the Beverly Blvd Viaduct under construction


1959: Night Has Fallen
Preparing retired "PCC" cars to go to Buenos Aires

After Ira passed away in 1975, I began making trips to "his" Emerald Street photo-spot

1980: Not much has changed
Toluca Yard is pretty much ignored by everyone


In 2000, the Subway's 75th Anniversary, I returned yet again

A rainy December Day, and but one hearty soul visits to look at the graffiti and "graf-art" that now adorns old Toluca Substation No. 51


2004: "The End is VERY Near?"

Suddenly, in early 2004, word spreads that a low-income apartment complex is about to be built on the site. Such housing is desperately needed in the area... but will all vestiges of the Hollywood Subway and Toluca Yard be obliterated?


April 10, 2004


That same day, April 10, 2004, a small group of diehard Pacific Electric buffs had made what
turned out to be the final "pilgrimage" to Toluca Yard as we knew it.

Click to go to the "Farewell Visit" photo gallery:


December 26, 2006

After the end
Construction has now obliterated the right of way and
blocked all access to the substation and portal


October 27, 2007

Now apparently at its full height, the building blocks any view
at all of the roadbed or the Beverly Blvd viaduct.
Or the sky, for that matter

Photo by, and courtesy of, Sergio Guerrero


August, 2008

With construction nearing completion, the owners have cleaned up the exterior of the substation, and stylized the subway portal. It's not 1925 or 1955 anymore, but it's something

Photos by, and courtesy of, Michael Ontiveros

My friend, artist Amy McKenzie's March 2004 Photos of the Tunnel, inside and out

To my "California Trolleys" Page, with a bunch of links

Elson Trinidad's Great PE Subway Page (defunct but thankfully archived)

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Copyright 1998, 2013 Harry Marnell