Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


LAistory: The 1925 "Hollywood Subway"

LAist relies on your reader support.
Your tax-deductible gift today powers our reporters and keeps us independent. We rely on you, our reader, not paywalls to stay funded because we believe important news and information should be freely accessible to all.

Think LA's relationship with underground rail transit began with the first tunnels blasted out to make way for the Red Line? Think again! LA's first subterranean transit system was a short stretch of tunneling dubbed the "Hollywood Subway," which moved its first passengers under the city in 1925 via electric interurban rail cars.


Opening Day in Toluca Yard (end of the Hollywood Subway at 1st and Glendale); original source unkonwn, via California Trolleys

The idea for a subway system in Los Angeles was initially dreamed up by railroad man EH Harriman at the turn of the century--who wanted " a four track subway west to Vermont Avenue, branching then to Vineyard, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and elsewhere"--but not pursued until 1922, when the city and the current stronghold of public transit, Pacific Electric, began to seriously consider the efficiency and necessity of transporting passengers via rail below the increasingly congested city streets (ERHA).

Support for LAist comes from

Ultimately, by 1924 plans were drawn for a 1 mile stretch of double-track to go from downtown to First Street & Glendale Boulevard, which became known as the Hollywood-Glendale-Valley Subway, although was often just called the "Hollywood Subway." (And yes, you'd be right in noting that the subway itself didn't actually travel through Hollywood, Glendale, or the Valley, but rather gave those three lines a joint way into Downtown.) From its tumultuous planning stages, to its construction and subsequent ridership, to its demise in partnership with the ultimate collapse of PE's transit system, the story of the 1925 "Hollywood Subway" is fascinating part of LA's history.