Nearly fifty years since the ringing of trolley bells last echoed off the buildings of Los Angeles' historic core, voters approved of a funding measure that will likely return streetcars to downtown Los Angeles. The campaign has brought forth many fond memories of the local yellow cars of the Los Angeles Railway and the interurban red cars of the Pacific Electric Railway among L.A. downtowners, but the city's very first streetcars -- diminutive, horse-drawn cars that spawned L.A.'s first suburbs -- are much lesser known.
Public transportation was slow to arrive in Los Angeles, a city whose farthest reaches were still accessible by foot in the 1870s. But as the city began to stretch out over the surrounding landscape, some form of regular, wheeled transportation around town became a practical necessity.
On Sept. 22, 1873, public transit debuted in Los Angeles when Charles Dupuy opened his Pioneer Omnibus Street Line. The line's horse-drawn vehicles, which resembled miniature railroad cars on large, wooden wheels, followed a regular schedule and a fixed route -- a first in Los Angeles. For nearly two years the Pioneer line's buses moved riders between the historic Plaza located by today's Olvera Street and Washington Gardens, a popular beer garden and fairground located far south of the central city at Washington and Main.