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

Share This

Arts and Entertainment

This 1940s Traffic Training Video Offers A Vintage Look At Downtown L.A.

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.

We're no strangers to traffic congestion in SoCal, and an unearthed training video offers a fun time capsule of the quaint traffic of downtown Los Angeles in 1946.

The fun video, pulled from the L.A. City Clerk's archives and posted to YouTube, was created to show police officers from the Parking and Intersection Control Division how not to handle the busy streets of L.A. In the video, we see crowds of pedestrians, classic cars and streetcars crisscrossing the streets of Downtown. We catch a glimpse of Pershing Square before the trees were dug up for an underground garage in the '50s (at the 0:49-minute mark), the marquee of the Orpheum theater and the Eastern Columbia building at 9th and Broadway (at minute 3:27). We also get to see Tommy, a clueless traffic officer who shows us what not to do to "minimize the possibility of conflict and congestion," as the narrator explains.

As bumbling as the Keystone Cops of the silent film-era, Tommy does just about everything but manage the traffic at his intersection. He takes a break to read and check horse-racing results, sneaks a smoke, leers at passing women, chats with friends and takes a lunch break at a nearby coffee shop. And there was no traffic scramble to help pedestrians cross back then, just Tommy, who manages to quickly gum up the works.

Support for LAist comes from

Thankfully, the narrator of the video also introduces us to Parking and Traffic Control Officers who are much better at their jobs than Tommy, and who are able to "step in fast, make a decision and carry it out." The video gives tips to the officers on how to best manage pedestrian and vehicle traffic, and even suggests exercises for them to stretch their feet and legs to keep from getting tired and maintain proper posture on the job. They also recommend that officers be prepared to "answer every type of question about locations, buildings, streets, stores and every street car run in L.A.," which even at that time seems like a tall order.

So, while we might not be seeing any $700 billion tunnels and toll roads to fix traffic around SoCal anytime soon, as least we can hope there aren't too many Tommys out there screwing things up on the roads.

[h/t: LA Observed]