Have You Ever Wondered… Why There’s a Triangle at the La Brea End of Hollywood Boulevard?
June 11, 2014
If you’re heading north on La Brea, turning right onto Hollywood Boulevard, you’ll most likely find yourself wondering about the silvery Four Ladies of Hollywood statue ahead of you, rather than thinking about the road you’re on. But the triangle of land the statue sits on is much more interesting than you might imagine. It’s not formed by a bifurcated Hollywood Boulevard. It’s actually formed by the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard, La Brea Ave. and Marshfield Way—a curious little street that has quite an interesting past.
Marshfield Way runs diagonally from Hollywood Boulevard and El Centro Place across La Brea, becoming a narrow one-way alley on the other side of La Brea as it passes the Avenue apartment complex, ending at N. Formosa Avenue. Along this seemingly non-descript alleyway, there are a few individual family homes and apartment buildings tucked away at odd angles.
Marshfield Way was, in fact, originally a private right of way for the Pacific Electric Red Car System that ran along the side of the one-lane street. Laid out in the early 1920’s, it allowed the Red Line to continue from Hollywood and La Brea on to Santa Monica and Fairfax, connecting “the Hollywood retail district with the great Western suburban area—Sherman, Beverly Hills, Sawtelle and beach towns, soon to be home of a half million people,” according to Hollywood’s local paper, Holly Leaves, in December of 1922. By the mid-1920s, the P.E. was the largest electric railway system in the world, bringing together cities from Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange and Riverside counties.
The route was in full operation until the mid 1950s when new freeways were built and car culture took over. The trains stopped running and eventually, an apartment building was constructed over a good portion of the Marshfield Way tracks, obliterating every trace. But if you squint hard enough, you can still imagine the train rumbling toward you, wires crackling and wheels clacking as it made its way up to Hollywood Boulevard.
Kim Sudhalter is the President of Urban Legend PR, a full-service public relations, branding and marketing company. She consulted with the Hollywood Entertainment District in its early years, helping to attract investment and revitalize the area. Originally from Europe and New York, she is an architecture and history buff who has a deep and abiding love for Hollywood and its past.