Pacific Electric Railway

Then & Now

On view August 15, 2012 to January 13, 2013

Renowned artist Harlan Hiney depicts PE "Hollywood Car" 5167 leaving the Subway Terminal tunnel as it heads toward Glendale. This work was inspired by a photograph by Donald Duke, renowned railroad photographer and publisher, for whom Hiney worked for many years, creating the cover art for dozens of books.

Renowned artist Harlan Hiney depicts PE “Hollywood Car” 5167 leaving the subway terminal tunnel, toward Glendale. This work was inspired by a photograph by Donald Duke, renowned railroad photographer and publisher.

The Pacific Electric Railway and its 1,100 miles of track connecting Southern California’s many diverse communities died out by the 1960s, but Pasadena Museum of History brought the famed railway back to life through images and artifacts in this exhibition. Pacific Electric Railway: Then & Now is based on the book of the same name by authors Steve Crise and Michael Patris (Arcadia Publishing).

“We are delighted that guest curators Steve Crise and Michael Patris are assembling a display that spotlights both treasures from the archives of the Mount Lowe Preservation Society as well as Steve Crise’s stunning photography,” said PMH Executive Director Jeannette O’Malley.

Aside from the nostalgia factor, “the Pacific Electric Railway has become more relevant in recent times due to the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s installation of light rail,” noted Patris. “While we can never go back to the Big Red Car routes and frequency of service we once enjoyed, many of the modern MTA lines follow what was once part of our everyday life.”

The photographic collection of the Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society (PERyHS), owned and curated by the Mount Lowe Preservation Society(MLPSI), has thousands of images which became the basis for a recent book from Arcadia Publishing. The exhibition at PMH included an expanded collection of images found in this work from the PERYHS archives, particularly highlighting rare images of the historic red car lines, compared Steve Crise’s meticulous and beautiful shots of the same locations today.

Additionally, an original advertising painting from the Pacific Electric Railway was publicly displayed for the first time in generations, as well as three new paintings by renowned artist Harlan Hiney, who uses historic images to create new works of art. Hiney is the same artist who created dust jacket artwork for railroad photographer Donald Duke and his company Golden West Books for many years and is well known for his railroad imagery, including the dust jackets of Charles Seims’ books, Mount Lowe, Railway to the Clouds and Trolley Days in Pasadena.