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45 Years Ago: Subway Tunnel Given to City

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, June 28, 2011, at 08:14AM
P.E. Tunnel Opens California Historical Society / USC Digital Archives

Onlookers greet the first streetcars through the P.E. subway tunnel in 1925.

On June 28, 1966, the City of Los Angeles was given the gift of a hole in the ground, one that it wanted only so it could fill it in.

The Pacific Electric's lone subway tunnel carried streetcars from the Subway Terminal Building at 4th and Hill to the intersection of 2nd and Glendale from 1925 to 1955. A decade later, the city's aim in acquiring the tunnel was to clear room for the foundations of buildings proposed for Bunker Hill redevelopment.

The city had started condemnation proceedings against the vacant tunnel, and was looking at having to pay anywhere from $250,000 to $1,000,000 for its acquisition before the Southern Pacific chose to give the 1.1-mile dig to the city instead.

Various plans to reuse the tunnel were concocted over the years, but its only function was as a storage space before the foundations for the Bonanventure Hotel cut it off midway in the 1970s. Today the mouth at 2nd and Glendale is sealed behind the Belmont Station apartments, while the Downtown station sits empty underneath Metro 417.


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