Red Car Station Changed From Relic to Monument
A 75-year-old Red Car station in Van Nuys--one of the few remaining relics of an era when the San Fernando Valley had a trolley line--was declared a historic-cultural monument by the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday.
The designation was given in a 12-0 vote to the Pacific Electric Railway’s Picover Station at 16710 Sherman Way. Ironically, it comes at a time while controversy rages over where to build a new trolley line in the Valley.
The Picover Station--no one can say where the name originated--was built in 1914 and was originally in the farming community of Marian, now known as Reseda. The small building was moved in 1917 to the middle of Sherman Way, between Balboa Boulevard and Hayvenhurst Avenue, where it remained until the Red Cars stopped running in the West Valley in 1938. It was then moved to its present location, where it was attached to a larger building.
The Saylor family, which owns the former station, applied for the designation to the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission, which recommended council approval. Historical status is usually sought to save buildings from demolition. In this case, it was requested to call attention to a little-known remnant of the Valley’s past.
The owners plan to convert the station into a trolley museum and to use the larger part of the building for antique shows. Philip Saylor said he is considering buying an old Red Car used as a diner in Santa Barbara to display in front of the building. He also plans to display other trolley memorabilia, such as a piece of rail and spikes that his family discovered while planting flowers on the property.
The Red Car made its entrance into the Valley in 1911. It ran on Vineland Avenue to Chandler Boulevard, then went along Van Nuys Boulevard to Sherman Way, where it split into two branches. One ran west along Sherman Way to Owensmouth, now known as Canoga Park. The other ran to San Fernando via Van Nuys Boulevard, Parthenia Street, Sepulveda Boulevard and Brand Boulevard.
The trolleys stopped running between Van Nuys and Owensmouth in 1938 because they were unprofitable. The last Red Car to operate in the Valley--called “A Streetcar Named Expire"--made its final horn-tooting run in 1952.