Just as the Los Angeles land boom of the late 1880s created an increased demand for water, new arrivals to the region created the need for expanded transportation arteries and options.
Initially the region relied on steam rail to carry people between the urban core and surrounding communities such as Monrovia and the San Gabriel Valley. When city and business leaders saw the financial benefits of establishing a rail line within city limits, they found ways to connect the pockets of neighborhoods that were quickly establishing across Los Angeles.
The Pasadena Street Railroad built its first electric line in 1893. In 1895 this line merged with the Los Angeles Electric Railway to form the Pasadena & Los Angeles Railway—the first interurban rail line in Southern California. The line transported passengers from (downtown) Los Angeles through Highland Park and Garvanza, across the Arroyo Seco and into Pasadena.
1911 brought "The Great Merger": Southern Pacific's buyout of various small lines, consolidating them all into an extensive Pacific Electric "Red Car" system. Henry Huntington, owner of the original Pacific Electric, retained control of the Los Angeles Railway, or the "Yellow Cars." This expansion brought new visitors and residents into Northeast Los Angeles and provided the dual benefits of growth and connection for the city.
While electric rail and horse drawn vehicles were the main transportation options in the city in the late 1800s, bicycling was another popular mode of transportation. The privately funded California Cycleway began its construction in 1899—an elevated bikeway meant to connect Pasadena to Los Angeles through Highland Park, and eventually to Santa Monica. Its founder Horace Dobbins set his sights high, even including plans to build a large casino along the route. But his dream was never fully realized. The partially completed bikeway was dismantled on order of the city of Pasadena in 1901.
Years later, with the arrival of the automobile and the construction of the Arroyo Seco Parkway (using the right-of-way of what was once the Cycleway), Highland Park and Garvanza were no longer important throughways that connected two major metro areas, becoming a "sleepy" community whose pace and lifestyle offered a respite from the nearby city.
Workers laying down the tracks for the San Gabriel Valley Railroad, ca. 1884. | Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles & San Gabriel Valley Railroad was completed in 1885, carrying passengers through Highland Park on itssteam passenger trains. | Image courtesy of the USC Digital Library
San Gabriel Valley Railroad train approches Highland Park over the Arroyo Seco in Garvanza, ca. 1885. | Image courtesy of the USC Digital Library
Horse-drawn fire engines leaving Station 12, located at 5221 Pasadena Avenue (Figueroa Street), ca. 1890. | Image courtesy of the USC Digital Library
The Pasadena and Los Angeles Electric Railway opened the first interurban street car line Southern California in 1895. | Image courtesy of the USC Digital Library
A streetcar crosses the Arroyo Seco in Garvanza, running parallel to the San Gabriel Valley Railroad bridge, ca. 1895. | Image courtesy of the USC Digital Library.
Stagecoaches ran through Highland Park even after the railroad tracks were laid down, as seen in this photo, ca. 1895. | Image courtesy of the USC Digital Library
In addition to electric trolleys, many Angelinos from the late 19th century got around on a bicycle. This map from the Los Angeles Times in 1895 shows the various routes one could ride on a bicycle from Los Angeles to Pasadena, going through Highland Park. | Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
The California Cycleway was an aborted project of millionaire Horace Dobbins, who had a vision of a dedicated bicycle way that carried riders from Pasadena, through Highland Park to Los Angeles, and finally to the beach in Santa Monica, ca. 1900. | Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
In 1901 the Cycleway was ordered to be removed by the city of Pasadena due to the development of the public Central Park in its path. | Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
The Pasadena & L.A. Railway was absorbed by the original Pacific Electric Railway in 1902. Here the "Slauson Junction" Pacific Electric car heading south at North Figueroa Street and Avenue 57, 1906. | Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
Pacific Electric absorbed numerous smaller lines during "The Great Merger of 1911". Here it passes the College of Fine Arts (later Judson Studios) in Garvanza, 1907. | Image courtesy of the USC Digital Library
Los Angeles and Mt. Washington Incline Railway carried passengers on Avenue 43, from Marmion Way up to the hotel at the summit, built in 1909. | Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
A Pacific Electric car stops at North Figueroa Street in Highland Park on its way to Pasadena. An automobile can be seen on the right. | Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library
By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, automobiles had become a popular mode of transportation, though it mostly could only be afforded by the wealthy. This photo depicts a grocery delivery vehicle driving through Highland Park, 1906.
President of the Bank of Highland Park G. W. E. Griffith landed his name in the "Gossip Along Gasoline Row" column in the L.A. Times in 1909 for his purchase of the "Detroit Electric Roadster." This type of automobile was heavily marketed towards the wealthy social class, as evidenced by this ad from 1909. | Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library