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See also: Los Angeles Consolidated Electric Railway Company - LACE

Los Angeles Consolidated Electric Railway
LACE car and crew in front of the St Elmo Hotel, 1892.

What the Mexicans call elmovimienlo is an indicator of the activity of busi­ness in a city, and the street railroads form a principal factor of that indicator. There are now no less than one hun­dred miles of street railroad, extending along all the principal thoroughfares. In 1887 the first electric line—the Pico street line—was put in operation in Los Angeles. This was the first line to use electricity as a motive power, west of the Rocky mountains. It is a certainty that, for convenient and rapid personal transport, that method of locomotion will be an absolute require­ment of the future. Enterprising men had foreseen this, and in 1890 the Los Angeles Consolidated Electric Rail­road Company obtained a franchise from the city authorities, extending over a period of fifty years, commencing from October 14th of that year. The conditions of the franchise were made very favorable to the Company, which has been successful from the start. There are already forty-seven miles of road in operation all laid with forty-five-pound steel rails and supplied with cars of the latest and most approved style. General M. H. Sherman is pres­ident, Mr. E. P. Clark, vice-president and manager, Major A. W. Barrett, superintendent, and under their able management the affairs of the company are in a thriving condition.

LACE Powerhouse, Shops at right, 1892.

Their buildings and plant are situated in the southwestern portion of the city and constitute one of the principal signs of progress, so many of which now mark the advance of Los Angeles. All the buildings are of the most substantial class, being constructed of brick, iron, and Arizona red stone. The main building is one hundred and forty feet by one hundred and twenty-four feet, and contains all necessary offices, a reading room, and the engine and dynamo room. On the south side and on the first floor are the offices of the cashier and superintendent, elegantly furnished and of cheerful aspect. The free reading room, which is sixty feet long by thirty-five feet wide, is on the second floor, and is supplied with books, the daily papers and all the lead­ing periodicals and magazines of the day. On the same floor are the offices of the electrical and mechanical en­gineers, in which are kept the plans, drawings, statements, etc.

In the LACE powerhouse, 1892.

The engine and dynamo room is worthy of particular description. It occupies the north part of the building and contains at present two low-pres­sure engines of the Thompson-Corliss type, each of seven hundred horse­power. These engines were made by the Golden State Miners’ Iron Works of San Francisco, and furnish the power which puts in operation two two-hundred-and-fifty horse-power and one seven hundred horse-power Westinghouse generators. This generator is one of the largest in the world and was constructed expressly for the Los Angeles Electric Company. In addition to this machinery, the company will soon put up two other two-hundred-and-fifty horse-power generators and another engine, which are intended to furnish electric light and manufac­turing power. The boiler-room is eighty feet in length by seventy feet in width, and is equipped with three one thousand horse-power Sterling water tube boilers. Crude oil is used for fuel, and is obtained from Santa Paula, California. The oil, driven by high-pressure pumps, comes in contact under the boiler with dry steam and forms an intensely heated spray. Apart from the economy of this kind of fuel, a great advantage is derived from the cleanliness enjoyed in the use of it. The black dust and suffocating clouds of ashes, and the accompanying dirt which make the typical boiler-room so disagreeable to its inmates, are here conspicuous by their absence.

The machine-room is eighty feet long by thirty-six feet wide and is equipped with a fifty horse-power engine, two large jet condensers, two feed pumps, two condensing pumps, all of large size. The machinery consists of iron lathes, planers, wheel borers, wheel presses, shapers and other necessary machinery, all being of the latest and most approved patterns. Car and machinery repairing, as well as that of the electrical plant, is done by the company, which also manufactures no small portion of their rolling and other stock. The car house is one hundred and seventy-three feet long by one hundred and sixty feet wide. An admirable regulation has been adopted and put in force by the officers of this company with regard to medical as­sistance. Each employe is required to pay half a dollar a month, which subscription entitles him and his fam­ily to the best medical attendance and medicine free of charge, the ex­penses being paid out of the medical fund thus obtained.

The railroad system of the company is divided into seven branches or main lines. These radiate from a common central point at the Arcade depot, pass through all the most important thor­oughfares of the city and extend to all the best suburban places of resort, present or prospective. The first line leads to the University station and will run its cars through to East Los An­geles; other lines extend to West Lake Park, Elysian Park, and Boyle Heights.

That the success of the Los Angeles Consolidated Electric Railroad Com­pany will be marked, there is no doubt. The electric company has been fortu­nate in securing a favorable franchise for the period of half a century; the foresight of its promoters, in looking beyond the present, and in their mind’s eye seeing the densely crowded streets of Los Angeles twenty years hence, and the many heavily loaded cars of their electric line passing to and fro without ceasing, has secured for the stockholders future wealth.

The future welfare and prosperity of Los Angeles are secured by two great factors of success—railroad communica­tion and the inexhaustible fertility of the surrounding country.

With such a system to develop the outlying country, it can be seen why Los Angeles is growing so rapidly, and it should be noted that the indi­cations are that the city is to be the great railroad center of the southwest. It is at present the central point of a number of roads, chief among which are the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, the Southern Pacific, while the Terminal leading from the sea to Los Angeles, through to Pasadena, and now being connected with the Lowe Sierra Madre Mountain railway, is supposed by many to soon become a third transcontinental road.

California Illustrated, 1892

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