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1930s Rush Hour Traffic on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles

One constant in the greater Los Angeles area is traffic, and this set of photos taken circa-1930 show that it was not just a post-World War II problem although it did get worse as time went by. The lead image and the enlargeable version below both contain heavy traffic at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and South Western Avenue circa 1930.

Earlier this area was part of Frank Pellissier’s dairy farm. When this photograph was taken, Pellissier Square was being developed by the Henry de Roulet Co. The firm’s sales-building can be seen on the right-hand street corner, and it was later replaced with the Pellissier Building that houses the Wiltern Theater.

The majority of the vehicles visible on Wilshire Blvd. date to the late-1920s but a close look appears to show a couple that maybe 1930 models. The Pellissier Garage has also been covered here in the past.

Wilshire Boulevard Traffic 1930-1

The view (below) is the junction of Wilshire Blvd. and Vermont Ave. circa 1934. Beyond the Flower Shop on the far side of the street are a number of businesses with one displaying a sign for twelve bottles of Coca Cola for fifty cents. There appears to be a Chrysler products roadster (a blur) on the far-left with its top and windshield down and at least three or four cars in the scene were built between 1934 to ’35.

Share with us what interests you in the photos courtesy of the USC Libraries.

Traffic at Wilshire and Vermont 1934

18 responses to “1930s Rush Hour Traffic on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles

  1. In the 3rd picture [2nd expandable photograph], to the right of the double-decker bus driving toward the camera, is what looks like a 1934 CADILLAC Town-Sedan.

  2. Dig those Chinese lantern looking street lights!Now why would they have to get rid of them and replace them with something “utilitarian” and “more practical” all the time?Bad taste almost always seems to win in the end in this country.

    • Just to indulge in tetrapyloctomy, I would say that banality, or the entire lack of taste, predominates.
      Just walk through any multimillion mcmansion.

      • Did you place your outspread fingertips together and rock back in your chair, William F. Buckley Jr. style, when making that observation? I just love it. “Eleemosynary” always springs to mind in these situations.

  3. In the lead picture there are at least three, 1930 or earlier, FORD Model A vehicles. The one in the foreground has something written on its front door.

  4. I was drawn to the ’28 or ’29 Model A Taxi. Not a 4 door sedan.I can see the divider between the driver and passenger areas.
    The C-Cab model T is pretty cool too.

    • Here is a bit of a puzzle for you. That ’28/’29 Ford A taxi appears to have the later 19 inch ’30/’31 wheels on it! Maybe the taxi company had gotten some newer As and wanted all cars to have matching spare tires?

      • The C-cab model T is an interesting one! It appears to have an after-market rear half of the body designed specifically for the ’26/’27 model T car chassis. It was made to fit behind the standard model T cowl used for that year and a half only. That open car cowl also held the gasoline tank, with the filler under the fake cowl vent. All the thousands of era photos I have looked at closely through the years, and I have seen only maybe ten with such a body clearly visible.
        Behind that model T delivery truck is a ’19 to ’23 model T coupe! It being one of the older cars in that photo.

      • All commercial Model A & AA Fords plus the taxi and town car continued the “1929 look” for the first half of 1930 and were updated to look like the 1930 cars after June 1930 or were dropped from the line up. In the meantime several mechanical updates turned up on these vehicles. For closeups of these taxis see the 1931 Mascot serial The Galloping Ghost starring Red Grange. It’s about rival taxi companies; all of the taxis are like the one above.

  5. In the lead picture, in the center of the intersection driving toward the camera, looks like a 1930 LINCOLN Limousine [with an “oval” in the center of the bumper].

  6. Spanny style,Chinee style-whatever.
    They were replaced with what looks like model Soviet-Socialist city circa 1950 Bulgaria style.
    Is style of Proletariat.
    –Boris Baranov

  7. What a wonderful picture! So many things to look at. Unfortunately, zooming in close shows the detail is not as fine as one may like. So it is difficult to identify a lot of makes and models.
    The Lincoln four-door was one of the first cars to catch my eye. I can’t tell exactly what year it is, although it appears to have the acorn shape headlamps as opposed to the earlier drum style. One of my best friends had a ’25 seven passenger sedan like that. I spent many hours riding (and sometimes driving!) it for hundreds of miles. I also spent some hours under it or up to my elbows in grease working on it.
    Just beyond the Lincoln, heading the other way, appears to be a 1930/’31 model A Ford coupe. It and the wheels on the ’28/’29 taxi mean the photo cannot be any earlier than 1930. Just beyond that A coupe, a couple people are riding in the rumble seat of a roadster! (Not a Ford!) It surprises me that I don’t see many other cars that can be as late as ’30. I see a ’28 Chevrolet (the coupe parked next to the curb where the taxi is beginning to pass), and several cars I know to be about ’28 or ’29. Way back in the pack, I see another roadster. Judging by the curve of the headlamp bar with a medallion in the center, it may be one of the newest cars in this photo. But I sure don’t know what it is.
    I do see a ’26/’27 model T roadster (also to your right of the Lincoln), a few more unknown non-Ford roadsters, as well as at least one cabriolet/convertible coupe and a fixed-top sport coupe, both definitely not Fords.
    There are so many mid-to-large size sedans in there! I love that era sedans. Wonderful cars to tour in.
    A whole bunch of cars in there that sure would be fun to have today! And how often do you see people actually riding in the rumble seat in era photos of general street scenes?

    Guess I need to check out the other photo?

    Thank you David G, for posting this one!

  8. I don’t think I have ever comment so much on a single day’s thread on this wonderful website!
    This picture also has much to see.
    I don’t know what the mid ’20s sedan with the big drum headlamps and the trunk is that is pulling away from the camera? But I kike it! There is a Model A Ford deluxe roadster in the intersection coming toward the camera. I think it is a ’31 as I “think” I can see the painted upper panel in the radiator shell (a ’31 only feature). The driver has his arm hanging down. I don’t know if he is simply relaxing and enjoying the weather, or signalling that he is slowing down to allow the other car to turn left in front of him.
    Also, ahead of that sedan I like, is what I think is a ’30/’31 model A Ford standard coupe.
    A bit ahead of the A roadster is another roadster speeding toward the edge of the picture. I think it may be a late ’20s or maybe ’30 Packard, I can make out the “crease” along the hood, and I don’t think it is a Buick. The driver has the windshield folded flat forward and appears to be enjoying the California sunshine!
    Behind the ’31 A roadster is a ’25 to ’27 Buick sedan with what appears to be a broken headlamp. Roughly eight years old at the time, its showing its age.
    Appears to be a double-decker sight seeing bus in the upper (viewer’s) right hand corner of the picture.
    A fair number of ’33 to ’35 cars in there, maybe not as many as I would usually expect. One very large sedan hiding back in the pack (sort of behind the mid ’20s Buick). Can’t tell what it is, but based upon “vanishing point” perspective, it is considerably bigger than that Buick!

    Again David G, thank you for one of the few websites I visit nearly every day, and the many interesting photos that you post here!

  9. In the first expandable photo, all the Model A’s appear to be 1928 or 1929. I don’t see any cars that appear to be 1930 or later, but I could have missed a couple. There are some high-end cars that are too blurry for me to positively identify. It is interesting to see at least 2 Model T’s whereas in other photos taken about 1930, I have not found any.

  10. Interesting co-incidence: in the top photo at lower right-center appears a coupe (perhaps one of those embarrassing Buick-wannabe-Packards?) with a damaged left headlight — which, judging by the dullness of the reflector, must have been in that condition for quite a while. In the third photo we see what looks like the same car with the same damaged headlight immediately behind the Model A roadster whose driver is making a hand signal.

  11. In the top (expandable) photo, is that a Pierce-Arrow 2 cars back from the intersection closest to the curb? The lights appear to be on the edges of the mudguards, which was a Pierce-Arrow styling feature.

  12. It’s interesting to see how quickly the ubiquitous Model T gave way to the Model A. When I moved to Los Angeles with my family in 1955 there were still a fair number of Model A’s around, not driving on the street, but stashed here and there behind houses throughout the area. Many of the cars had already received an initial “assault” by a would-be customizer; after a knock on the door of the house which harbored a car project, the parents in residence would agree to sell us their car. I remember that in those days a Model A could be purchased for as little as $50.00, even a roadster! I bought at least one which already had a dropped front axle and a grill and perhaps the radiator from a ’32 Ford which had been substituted for the stock unit. When my family moved back to the east coast in 1958 my Model A hot rod project – in much the same shape as when I’d bought it – was left behind; sadly, I’m not able to recall where it ended up but in those days, especially amongst the younger teenagers who were not yet able to legally drive a car on the street, old car projects were passed around almost as easily as trading cards.

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