Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What Could Have Been: The 1970s-era Los Angeles Monorail That Wasn't

Los Angeles transit history is littered with proposals and projects that never got off the ground.

Of course, we're now all left to wonder whether L.A. would be easier to navigate had a system been put in place nearly 40 years ago. But no matter -- what's done is done, and we still don't have a subway to the sea.

L.A. Times freelancer Steve Harvey put together a list of the more outlandish rapid transit ideas over the years, including the monorail.


In the 1960s and '70s, plans were drawn up for elevated "people-movers" in L.A.'s Civic Center. Drawings showed what looked like "Star Wars" vehicles zipping over traffic on Spring Street.

But the concept was opposed by San Fernando Valley legislators who thought their region was being left out. (Even the Aerial Swallow had included the Valley in its plans.) L.A.'s "people-mover" idea didn't go anywhere.

Check out our 2007 Franklin Avenue post on L.A.'s failed rapid transit plans here. It includes a link to maps of old proposed transit plans -- as well as the link to a 1954 Fortune article touting the future of a monorail in L.A.

Monorails, of course, have been discussed for years as an L.A. rapid transit option -- particularly after Walt Disney constructed a mini version for Disneyland. Ray Bradbury was also a big proponent. The push hasn't died down, as real estate developer and potential City Hall candidate Rick Caruso has discussed the option.

But as the commenters on this Curbed L.A. post note, there's a host of reasons why monorails won't make sense. First off, subways are more safe in the event of an earthquake. The idea of a monorail is romantic, but not practical.

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