Glendale-Burbank Line Tour

Pacific Electric Subway Lines

Subway Lines Map


We begin our tour by walking through the entryway to the Subway Terminal at 417 South Hill Street. After paying our fare, we descend the spiral ramp to the train gates at the mezzanine level. Once through the gates we descend ramps to the track level, 29 feet below the Hill Street level.

After passing the interlocking tower and sliding through the puzzle switches at the throat of the trainshed, our train accelerates up the 2% grade as it runs through the subway, passing signal lights and lights in the emergency escape pockets along the tunnel wall.

The subway is one mile long. In the photo below (by Donald Duke) a Glendale-bound PCC emerges from the tunnel portal. After popping into daylight, our train ascends a ramp to steetlevel at Beverly Boulevard, passing the Toluca Substation, and Toluca Yard on the right. Toluca Yard has six tracks to store trains when out of service.

Subway Portal

For the next mile our train runs on street trackage in Glendale Boulevard, from Beverly Boulevard to Sunset Boulevard, passing Echo Park on the right. The following photo shows a Hollywood-bound car passing Echo Park near Kent Street.

Echo Park

At Park Avenue we pass Aimee Semple McPherson's Angelus Temple on the right, and tracks diverge to the left. Hollywood Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, and San Fernando Valley trains take the route diverging to the left.

After crossing under the Sunset Boulevard bridge (see below) our train enters a private right of way in the median of Glendale Boulevard, which runs for 0.75 miles to Effie St. This section has a third track in the middle. This third track was built originally to allow Burbank limited trains to pass Edendale locals but is not used much anymore. At Effie Street our train enters street trackage again for about a third of a mile, to Fargo Street. This area, where Glendale Boulevard is in a valley, is called "Edendale."

Bridge Over Sunset Boulevard
Sunset Boulevard Bridge

At Fargo Street our train turns northeast-ward into a private right of way in the median of Alessandro Street. As Alessandro Street rises steeply the tracks enter an open cut with a bridge over the tracks at Baxter St. (as we see below).

Alessandro cut

After about a half mile, at Whitmore Avenue, the line curves north. In the photo below two trains pass at the Whitmore Avenue stop. The street off to the right is Alessandro St. From this point south the line runs in the median of Alessandro St. to Glendale Blvd. This entire location has been obliterated by the Glendale Freeway.

Whitmore Avenue

After leaving Whitmore, the line runs through an open cut, passing Lakeview Terrace to India Street. At the India Street stop (shown below in a photo by Larry Veysey), the trains turn northwest-ward, rounding a very sharp curve. The line then runs on a ledge on the north side of the Elysian Hills, overlooking Riverside Drive and the Los Angeles River valley to the right. This ledge section runs for a mile from India St. to the Monte Sano stop (at Glendale Boulevard and Riverside Drive). Midway in this section of the line you will get a spectacular view as the line crosses a high bridge over Fletcher Drive.

India Street Stop

The curvy route of the PE Glendale line through the Elysian Hills is shown in the following topographic map from 1953:

In the photo below a 3-car train of PCC "streamliners" is crossing the Fletcher Drive viaduct — one of the more spectacular locations on the Pacific Electric.

Fletcher Drive viaduct

In the photo below (by Donald Duke) an inbound train is running on the ledge after departing Monte Sano. Monte Sano is the site of an electrical substation.

Train near Monte Sano

In the shot below (by Ira Swett) an outbound train is about to cross over Riverside Drive as it departs Monte Sano.

Monte Sano

The scenic but curvy route through the Elysian Hills is governed by automatic block signals throughout. This section of the line is free of grade crossings from Whitmore Avenue to Glenhurst in Atwater -- a distance of about one and three quarter miles.

At Monte Sano the line curves northward, crossing a series of bridges -- over Riverside Drive, the Los Angeles River, and the northbound lanes of Glendale Boulevard. The next photo (by Walter Abbenseth) shows a rush-hour train crossing the L.A. River bridge.

Crossing the L.A. River

After crossing the bridges, the line enters private right of way in the median of Glendale Boulevard. The line operates on this median through Atwater Village, to the Glendale city limit at San Fernando Road. An interlocking tower governs the crossing of the Southern Pacific mainline. The track diverging to the left here is an interchange between Pacific Electric and SP that can be used for transfer of freight cars and for package freight motors to receive packages from SP passenger trains. At San Fernando Road the line enters steet trackage in Brand Boulevard and continues north through downtown Glendale, as shown in the photo below.

Brand Boulevard in 1950s

When Leslie Brand's company originally developed what is now downtown Glendale, they built Brand Boulevard as a dual roadway with the electric rail line in the median. The Pacific Electric median was paved over during World War I. The following photo shows the original private right of way in the median of Brand Boulevard as of 1913.

Brand Boulevard in 1913

At Burchett Street the line enters a private right of way in the median of Brand Boulevard and becomes single track, crossing Verdugo Wash on a steel bridge to Arden Junction, at Glen Oaks Boulevard. At Arden Junction (shown below in a photo by Allan Styffe) the Burbank branch departs to the left, entering the median of Glen Oaks Boulevard while the North Glendale branch continues northward for a half mile, on single track, to its terminus at Mountain Avenue -- 8.9 miles from the subway terminal.

Arden Junction

The following photo looks south at Arden Junction in 1942.

Bridge Over Verdugo Wash

After the passing siding and stop at Central Avenue, the Burbank-bound train passes a two-track yard (built in 1948) used to store out of service trains, between Central Ave. and Pacific Ave., shown in the photo below (by R. Long).

Glendale Yard

The Burbank branch is single track from Arden Junction to Providencia Steet in Burbank. This single-track section is protected by automatic block signals. The right of way is wide enough for two tracks and the state Public Utilities Commission has requested that PE Railway double track this line. From Providencia Street to Orange Grove Avenue in downtown Burbank the line is double track in the street. (This section of street trackage was double-tracked in 1948.) The station at Burbank has an offstreet yard with three tracks.