Much as it was a half-century ago, the eastern stretches of Santa Monica Boulevard are dominated primarily by the utility poles along its north side, made only more prominent by the gradual erosion of its street wall. Completed around 1937, the Ralphs supermarket in the top photograph occupied an L-shaped plot with frontages on both Santa Monica Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, wrapped around an older commercial building at the intersection’s northeast corner (pictured far left). Although increasingly designed to accomodate automobile parking, the grocery chain continued to build its new stores with at least one facade and pedestrian entrance along the sidewalk. The Santa Monica Boulevard store remained in operation through the 1980s, until all of the buildings in its vicinity were replaced by a sprawling, fully car-oriented shopping center.
The original photograph was taken shortly before the removal of the tracks and streetcar poles once used by the Pacific Electric Railway. During the early 20th century, the transit company’s Santa Monica Boulevard Line was the region’s primary transit route between West Hollywood and Downtown, and one of several lines which radiated from the Subway Terminal Building. Its relatively high ridership made it one of the last routes to succumb to the Pacific Electric Railway’s rapid dismantling of its rail network. Once its streetcars were replaced by buses on June 1, 1953, the transit corporation operated only six streetcar lines alongside 40 bus routes.
1. “Hollywood market evacuated.” Los Angeles Times. 30 Oct 1985. A31.
2. “PE displays air suspension motor coaches.” Los Angeles Times. 29 May 1953. A3.
3. “PE rail line will change to busses June 1.” Los Angeles Times. 20 May 1953. 12.
4. “Realty purchase heralds new activity.” Los Angeles Times. 3 May 1936. E2.
Original photo: “chs-m1361 – View of Santa Monica Boluevard, looking east of Vermont, showing Ralphs grocery store, 1954 (1951?).” California Historical Society Collection. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/search/controller/view/chs-m1361.html.