Today's little journey on the way-back machine takes us to a little bridge that is no more. You may have noticed the "Stonehenge of SilverLake" along the side of Fletcher St. just west of Riverside Drive. They sit as a silent testimony to the public transport that is no more, the defunct Pacific Electric Railway (PER).
(Most of this article is lifted from the fantastic "Red Car Property" blog. It's a great resource for anyone looking for more informatiion about the Corralitas part of Silverlake, and the greenspaces around it.)
The Fletcher St. Trestle was originally built in 1904, for the Los Angeles & Glendale Electric Railway, then was sold to the Pacific Electric Railway in 1906. The Pacific Electric “Big Red Car” trolleys were a hugely popular means of transportation for Los Angeles, particularly among the neighborhoods on the Edendale and Glendale lines. The viaduct, or bridge, was huge: 453’6” long, and 40’9” high, of wood trestle construction. In 1927, a 97’ center section of the viaduct was replaced with steel, accommodating the paving of Fletcher Drive. Fletcher was also lowered; the viaduct then stood 61’ above the roadway.
1896 Los Angeles Railway Local Edendale Line extends through a private right-of-way to Ivanhoe Hills, terminus at Fletcher, a dirt road near the Los Angeles River.1904 Fletcher Drive Red Car Viaduct constructed for the Glendale Line. Pacific Electric officially opened the Glendale Line in 1906; bringing real estate speculation to the areas surrounding rail lines.1924-28 Area streets paved for the first time. 1927: center span of the Fletcher Red Car Viaduct replaced with steel accommodating the paving and lowering of Fletcher Drive. The bridge was now 61’ above the roadbed.1955 Glendale Line decommissioned, right-of-way removed from public service, property remained in private hands. Red Car tracks removed, but the viaduct remained on the hillside above Riverside and Fletcher Drives.
First, Southern Californians embraced the Red Car as an economical, efficient and popular means of public transportation. Mid-century, the Red Cars were forgotten in favor of automobiles and freeways. Late in the 20th Century, Southern Californians rediscovered the Red Car, studying a successful model of public transportation. The Fletcher Red Car Viaduct Footings are more than just the foundation for a Pacific Electric bridge. The concrete blocks are a foundation for not only Los Angeles, but also the region. Settlers, real estate speculators and population growth followed the Red Car Lines, wherever they went.
In 2003, the Los Angeles City Council confirmed the action of the Cultural Heritage Commission, declaring the Fletcher Red Car Trestle Footings as Historic-Cultural Monument #770.
As one neighbor put it, “It’s an oddly beautiful testament to our community’s past. It’s a quirky kind of landmark that fits Silver Lake.” The Red Car Viaduct Footings bring a unique identity to our neighborhood.