The Pacific Electric Railway and its 1,100 miles of track connecting Southern California’s many diverse communities died out by the 1960’s, but Pasadena Museum of History will bring the famed railway back to life through images and artifacts in a new exhibition opening Wednesday, August 15 and running through January 13, 2012. Pacific Electric Railway, Then & Now, is based on the book of the same name by authors Steve Crise and Michael Patris (Arcadia Publishing).
“We are delighted that guest curators Steve Crise and Michael Patris are assembling a display that spotlights both treasures from the archives of the Mount Lowe Preservation Society as well as Steve Crise’s stunning photography,” said PMH Executive Director Jeannette O’Malley. “It is sure to be a draw for railroad enthusiasts and the general public, as was the popular Mount Lowe exhibition that Michael Patris curated at PMH in 2008.”
Aside from the nostalgia factor, “the Pacific Electric Railway has become more relevant in recent times due to the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s installation of light rail,” notes Patris. “While we can never go back to the Big Red Car routes and frequency of service we once enjoyed, many of the modern MTA lines follow what was once part of our everyday life.”
Image (left): Pacific Electric Railway cars 1243 and 1211 head eastbound on Colorado Boulevard at Oakland Avenue beneath banners for the 1949 Tournament of Roses Parade. This consist traveled to Lake Avenue, then south to merge onto Oak Knoll where it ran further south to Huntington Drive and then west, on its way to the PE building at 6th and Main Streets in Los Angeles . Photo by Harold Stewart, PERYHS.ORG Collection.
The photographic collection of the Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society (PERyHS), owned and curated by the Mount Lowe Preservation Society (MLPSI), has thousands of images which became the basis for a recent book from Arcadia Publishing. Pacific Electric Railway, Then & Now co-authors Steve Crise and Michael Patris assembled this book from those archives and, since its debut in December, have seen incredible response to these images. The exhibition at PMH will include an expanded collection of images found in this work from the PERYHS archives, including rare images from the past that will be compared to what can be seen in the same locations today, as seen through the lens of photographer Steve Crise.
Additionally, an original advertising painting from the Pacific Electric Railway will be publicly displayed for the first time in generations, as well as three new paintings by renowned artist Harlan Hiney, who uses historic images to create new works of art. Hiney is the same artist who created dust jacket artwork for railroad photographer Donald Duke and his company Golden West Books for many years and is well known for his railroad imagery, including the dust jackets of Charles Seims’ books, Mount Lowe, Railway to the Clouds and Trolley Days in Pasadena.
Image (right): Renowned artist Harlan Hiney depicts PE "Hollywood Car" 5167 leaving the Subway Terminal tunnel as it heads toward Glendale. This work was inspired by a photograph by Donald Duke, renowned railroad photographer and publisher, for whom Hiney worked for many years, creating the cover art for dozens of books.
The Mount Lowe Preservation Society, a 501(c)3 educational organization founded by Michael Patris in 2000, was gifted the archives of the Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society to expand their collections and further help explain our local rail history. Both Steve Crise and Michael Patris serve on the board of MLPSI and have expanded the collections to include the Los Angeles Railway as well as material from successor companies. MLPSI is proud to announce they have purchased a building in Pasadena where these items, including photos, ephemera, maps, hardware and three dimensional artifacts, will eventually archived, curated and shared. Nearly 2,000 of the Pacific Electric Railway images have digitized thus far and can be seen at peryhs.org, where the content is interactive and has become a regular visiting place for those interested in our local history. Stop by the site and get an idea of what is in store at Pasadena Museum of History’s coming attraction!
Exhibition Hours: 12:00 Noon to 5:00 pm Wednesdays through Sundays.
Admission: $7 General; $6 Students & Seniors; Members & Children under 12 Free; Active Duty Military Personnel & Their Families Free.
Community Wednesdays: Free admission every Wednesday during the run of the exhibition to anyone who lives, works or is a student in any of the following local communities: Alhambra, Altadena, Arcadia, Bradbury, Duarte, Eagle Rock, El Sereno, Glendale, Highland Park, La Canada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Monrovia, Monterey Park, Pasadena, Rosemead, San Gabriel, San Marino, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena and Temple City. Please mention this offer and show some form of i.d. in the Museum Store.