The Metropolitan Transportation Authority just opened an eastern extension of the Gold Line train. But it’s not the first light rail line to travel to East LA.
In the early 1900’s, if you wanted to visit one of the cemeteries east of the LA River, you took the streetcar, the Stephenson Avenue Line. We now know Stephenson Avenue by another name: Whittier Boulevard.
Historian Matt Roth of the Auto Club says Whittier Boulevard is the main thoroughfare through Boyle Heights and the east side. He says factories sprung up along the L.A. River and manufacturers needed a better road to move their goods south. Stephenson Avenue was their first choice.
"The City Council renamed it Whittier Boulevard in 1921," he says, "out of recognition that it was serving an inter-regional function because it was the main road to Whittier and beyond."
But renaming a street is cheap. Paying for a new highway is expensive. That's the Street Story about Whittier Blvd.