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Burbank Had First Monorail in 1911, SaMo Wanted One in 1912

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Image via USC Digital Library

Yeah, it's pretty sad that Los Angeles had and lost a comprehensive mass transit system that linked the whole city and beyond, but it's heartbreaking that we had and lost a monorail and missed the chance for a line running the length of Santa Monica too. The first monorail-ish vehicle was an aerial trolley that ran between Lake and Flower Streets in Burbank, according to Burbank history repository Burbankia. It opened around 1911, the year the city was incorporated and got its first Red Cars, and it was built (and patented) by local eccentric J.W. Fawkes, who owned the land roughly between Victory and Flower, southeast of Olive (which is now home to a bunch of car and RV dealerships and repair places, perhaps ironically).

A 1912 article in the LA Times said the Burbank monorail "runs on a trussed rail and is propelled with a fan, operated by a gasolene motor," and could get up to a speed of about 25 miles per hour. But Fawkes claimed that a proposed line in Santa Monica could reach 150 mph, which sounds pretty terrifying.

The Santa Monica City Council backed the Aerial Trolley Company's 1912 effort to build a line running down Fremont Avenue all the way from the ocean to the city's border with Los Angeles, but property owners and the city's Chamber of Commerce opposed the plan. The Burbank line was shut down in the early 1920s.
· Fawkes Folly [Wes Clark, via BoingBoing]