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THEN & NOW

Electric Rail Service Made the Difference

January 02, 1992|ANNE KLARNER

At the turn of the century, when Brand Boulevard was just a sleepy little street, Glendale's primary business district was at Glendale Avenue and 3rd Street--now known as Wilson Avenue.

Usually, town centers change imperceptibly over time. But Brand Boulevard's emergence as a commercial hub can be traced to a specific date--April 6, 1904. On that day, the first Glendale line electric railway car pulled into the terminus at Broadway and Brand, changing not only Brand but all of Glendale.

The man behind the railway, and much of Glendale's early development, was Leslie Carlton Brand, a real estate developer from Missouri. Brand came to Los Angeles in 1886 and saw potential in Glendale just before the turn of the century. With Henry E. Huntington, he formed the San Fernando Valley Land and Development Co. and bought large tracts of real estate.

In 1902, Glendale residents were fed up with the sporadic railway service they had from the Salt Lake Co. and the Southern Pacific, which only went as far as the neighboring community of Tropico, now part of Glendale. Brand went into action and secured a franchise from the Pacific Electric Railroad Co. and the rights of way.

At the same time, Brand and Huntington bought a narrow strip of land that the proposed railway would run through. It was during the planning process that the thoroughfare was named Brand Boulevard.

Thanks to ads published by Brand and the new railway, people poured into Glendale. Businesses sprang up around the new line, many of them financed by Brand, who also had controlling interests in the community's water, power and telephone companies and the city's first two banks. In 1907, the streetcar tracks to Glendale and 3rd were torn up. Streetcar service was resumed in 1914, but by then, Brand Boulevard was established as the heart of Glendale's business.

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