Now that downtown L.A. is getting a 4-mile-long streetcar trolley loop, and Metro rail ridership continually hovers at peak levels, it's good to remember how it all began with historian Jeff Arnett's lecture, “The Impact of the Pacific Electric Car on Southern California Development.” Spearheaded by railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington and launched in 1901, Pacific Electric Railway's Red Cars provided access to cities and suburbs alike via 1,000 miles of track across the Southland. That is, until the allure of the automobile industry kicked the business in the nuts as people increasingly opted to see the U.S.A. in their Chevrolets. Arnett, a Pasadena area resident since 1930, was there during the Red Cars' heyday, and he'll tell you all about how this once-comprehensive transportation system came to be destroyed. Now might be a better time for streetcars than ever, though — it's not like we're going to be tricked out of it by shiny cars like last time. Crowell Public Library, 1890 Huntington Drive, San Marino; Mon., Feb. 25, 7 p.m.; free. (626) 300-0777,

Mon., Feb. 25, 7 p.m., 2013

LA Weekly