Looking east on Sixth Street from Flower Street, c. 1920-2011

c. 1920-2011

After the Second World War, the stretch of Sixth Street between Hope and Flower Streets lost its collection of ragtag commercial buildings as the budding Financial District grew into one of the Los Angeles’ prototypical modernist business centers. The two buildings on both sides of the contemporary view’s foreground, the Superior Oil Building and the General Petroleum Building, are aesthetic exemplars of mid-century corporate architecture.

Fittingly, Sixth Street was also one of the first major downtown thoroughfares to lose its streetcar infrastructure to automobile-oriented planning. Faced with the district’s increasingly snarled motor traffic in the mid-1940s, transportation planners launched an aggressive push for the creation of one-way streets within the central city. The primary obstacle to their implementation was of course the two-way track layout of the area’s many streetcar lines. In 1946, the city’s traffic engineers pursuaded the Pacific Electric Railway to replace its vehicles on Fifth and Sixth Streets with trackless trolleys running one way on each. The streetcar tracks were removed after trolleybus service began in the following summer, and both streets became fully one-way on October 7, 1947.

Correction, Oct 4, 2013: The streetcars substituted by trackless trolleys were operated by Los Angeles Transit Lines, not the Pacific Electric Railway. The Pacific Electric Railway was required to reroute several of its routes in the vicinity of its Main Street terminal.

1.”Downtown Fifth and Sixth Sts. to be one-way.” Los Angeles Times. 22 Mar. 1947. 1.
2. “Fifth, Sixth Sts. go on one-way traffic basis.” Los Angeles Times. 7 Oct. 1947. 2.
3. “One-way street, rapid-transit plans advance.” Los Angeles Times. 13 Dec. 1946. 1.
Original photo: “View of commercial Sixth Street near Grand Avenue, looking east, showing automobiles and streetcar tracks, ca.1920(?) – chs-m552.” Title Insurance and Trust/C. C. Pierce Photography Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/assetserver/controller/view/CHS-31151.

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