Wednesday, April 16, 2014

POPPIES, THE POPPY CAR, AND THE PACIFIC ELECTRIC LINE



How did poppies play a role in the early growth of Monrovia? It all began with increased options for transportation, one hundred and ten years ago. In 1903 the Pacific Electric line opened in Monrovia, offering service to Los Angeles. For the first time, it became possible for Monrovians to seek employment in the city, while enjoying the benefits of home life in the suburbs. Automobiles were also increasingly popular, apparently so much so that in 1904, it became necessary for an ordinance to limit the speed of vehicles on Monrovia’s main streets to a mere eight miles per hour. Imagine crawling up and down Myrtle Avenue at that rate! 


Monrovians also saw the need to maintain the beauty of their roadways. City officials spent five dollars on poppy seed to be scattered alongside the roads that year. Perhaps this paved the way for the Poppy Car, which was established the following summer. This railroad car traveled along the Orange Grove route and made stops of an hour or more at each station, allowing excursionists to disembark to explore the surrounding city and neighborhoods. It was said that Monrovia saw a thousand visitors per week thanks to the Poppy Car, and many of the excursionists chose to make Monrovia their home.

Source: John L. Wiley, History of Monrovia (Pasadena: Press of Pasadena Star-News, 1927), p. 92-93, 96-97.

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