Pacific Electric Building

Main and 6th streets

The Pacific Electric Building was once the center for electric streetcars for Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernadino Counties, making it the hub for the largest intraurban electric train system in the world. It is listed as a Historic-Cultural Monument (#104) as of 1989, and has been converted into lofts.

In the belly of the Pacific Electric Building is Cole's P.E. Buffet, a restaurant dating back to 1908. It has two claims to fame: as the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Los Angeles, and as the inventor of the French Dip Sandwich. This claim is contested by Phillipe the Original, a restaurant that also opened in 1908 near what is now Chinatown, and similarly touts its ties to the original French Dip. Both restaurants are worth a visit.

PHOTOS: C. Roseman, 1997 (left, top); 1945 postcard (right, top); J. Mapes