Category Archives: San Diego Electric Railway

San Diego Electric Railway Exposed!

For the first time since 1949, a section of the San Diego Electric Railway, double track at that, is exposed for only a short time before it will be destroyed in Hillcrest. They last saw service on April 23, 1949 as a part of the #7 streetcar line. The City of San Diego is currently restoring the 1914 Georgia St bridge over University Ave. As a part of this project, they are also lowering University Ave between Park Blvd and Florida St.

These tracks represent a bit of San Diego history and I highly recommend a visit in the next week or so before they are gone. Remnants of the former railway are getting harder to find as time passes and more roads are torn up for various projects.

Looking east from Georgia St, tracks are in the median.
Looking easterly toward Georgia St
Looking toward the Georgia St bridge with the tracks in the median
Angled view of the tracks between Georgia St and Park Blvd.
Looking down at the torn up eastbound tracks.
Railroad ties on top of the Georgia St bridge from the roadway below.
Torn up tracks and a #7 bus
Looking west from near Florida St.

More information about the San Diego Electric Railway

Streetcar tracks in Bankers Hill

While riding home today from downtown San Diego, I passed some construction on 5th Ave between Olive St and Palm St. It seems that the tracks from the #1 San Diego Electric Railway line are still in place. I had thought most of these tracks were long since torn up. Instead, as seen on Park Blvd, the tracks are merely buried under a few inches of asphalt.

Southbound and one northbound track at Olive St
Southbound and one northbound track at Olive St
Southbound rails in place.
Southbound rails in place.
Side view showing three rails within the trench.
Side view showing three rails within the trench.

Tracks remain on Park Blvd

Walking today, I saw that the former San Diego Electric Railway tracks in the median of Park Blvd seem to be staying put. Construction is underway for a “busway” which is tearing out most of the old track and poles. However, at Howard Ave, the tracks are being left in place and reburied beneath the new median. Why this is the case here and not anywhere else is something of a mystery. Hopefully it marks a trend to keep some of the old infrastructure in place instead of destroying it.

Section of rail removed at Howard Ave.
Section of rail removed at Howard Ave.
South of Howard Ave to near Polk Ave, the old rails remain.
South of Howard Ave to near Polk Ave, the old rails remain.

A Streetcar Named Huh?

My day was going along fairly smoothly until after breakfast. I had bicycled over to Babbo Grande, to meet a couple of friends for breakfast. We stayed a while, talked, and eventually left around noon. I was going to head back home, but decided to extend the ride. I continued north on Park Blvd, into University Heights. It was fun, basically going slower and checking out the businesses. I found a few restaurants I’d heard about, and want to try sometime. When I got to Adams, I turned right. Now, this sort of ride, doesn’t have a real direction. I just start to wander and go wherever my next decision takes me, instead of going to a specific place. It was after I turned onto Adams that thing took a whole new direction.

Parked in the middle of the roadway, at Florida St, was an old truck and trailer, what was on the trailer was something quite extraordinary. It was a 1915 San Diego Electric Class 1 car, a streetcar. This street, Adams Avenue, hasn’t seen such a sight since 1949, though this car hasn’t been on the rails since 1939. I decided to follow it, see where they were taking it. Turns out, it was on a “publicity tour” of sorts. They drove west on Adams then south on Park. I figured, I was ready for to follow them anywhere, until a freeway. The truck was going quite slow, blowing their horn a few times to attract attention. It did. Lots of people were taking photos, traffic slowed both directions on all the roadways they took. I followed them on their little tour through Hillcrest, then back up to University Heights. After they finally stopped on Florida St at Adams Ave, I asked if they were going to be there a while. They said yes, good! I could go home and get my camera! So, I went home, got the camera, got back, and it was still there. I also got to speak with some of the people there, got a nice brochure on the project. Their project, San Diego Historic Streetcars, has a goal of running their cars, the last three of this type remaining, back on San Diego streets. I’d sure like to see that. Seeing it go down University Ave, sort of recreating the #11 car line, was pretty cool as it was. Having it run on its own doing the same thing would be much better.

This is what I saw on Adams Ave. Eye catching isn't it?
This is what I saw on Adams Ave. Eye catching isn’t it?
San Diego Electric Railway logo
San Diego Electric Railway logo
Side view, the "fencing" at the bottom is supposed to be there and is original.
Side view, the “fencing” at the bottom is supposed to be there and is original.
A streetcar, with Trolley Barn Park in the background.
A streetcar, with Trolley Barn Park in the background.

There is a lesson to be learned here, sometimes take it slow, and don’t just go home. Extend the bike ride, even if just a little. You never know what fun might be out there.