Ride the Streetcar to the Bimini Baths

Undated Aerial Photo - probably about 1920.  The Bimini Baths are in the center. Bimini Place (street) is on the left, and Sacatela Creek is on the right.

Undated Aerial Photo, facing northeast, probably from the 1910's. The Bimini Baths are in the center. Across the street, in the lower left corner is the Rayfield building. Sacatela Creek is on the right. Streetcar tracks cross the creek on a wooden bridge. First Street runs along the top edge, Second Street along the bottom and Bimini Place is along the left. Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library.

Our street, Bimini Place, has a great history. Bimini runs just two blocks – it’s a block east of Vermont Avenue at First Street. When I am speaking with elderly folks who grew up in Los Angeles and I mention what street I live on, they often say “Oh! I remember going to the Bimini Baths as a kid.”

Undated Aerial

Undated Aerial Photo, facing east, a little after the previous photos, probably from the 1920's. Vermont Avenue is horizontally along the foreground. Second Street runs vertically through the center left. The El Patio Ballroom occupies the center of the picture (sitting where Vons is today.) The Bimini Baths and the Rayfield Building are on the left, Sacatela Creek runs horizontally in the background. Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library.

Legend has it that, in the late 1800s, folks were prospecting for oil here, and hit hot water. According to this 1902 article, Dr. David W. Edwards opened the Bimini Baths in 1902 in this “rather remote location… nestled in the eucalyptus groves surmounting the hills beyond the Westlake oil fields, it is out of the sight of most men.” The first baths building burned down in 1905 and was re-built even bigger (as seen in the above photos.)

Undated photo of the streetcar headed for the Bimini Hot Springs. Photo from the Henry E. Huntington Library Collection, appeared in the Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation Journal winter 2008/2009

Undated photo of the streetcar headed for the Bimini Hot Springs. Photo from the Henry E. Huntington Library Collection, appeared in the Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation Journal winter 2008/2009

The street car line visible in the photo above (and the upper photo), was called the H line. This line came from downtown along its own right-of-way and turned around at 1st and Vermont, then the suburban streetcar terminus.

The Mijoo Peace Church at xxx Bimini Place, the former site of the Bimini Baths.  The church building adaptively reused the former Daily Racing Form building.

The Mijoo Peace Church at 170 Bimini Place, stands on the former site of the Bimini Baths. The church building adaptively reused the former Daily Racing Form building.

The Bimini Baths closed in 1951 after being desegregated. The facility had been closed to (at least) blacks and Asians. Attendance had already been in decline due to fear of contracting polio from public pools. When I moved into the neighborhood in 1996, the baths site was the building where the Daily Racing Form was printed. This enterprise departed, and the site is now the Mijoo Peace Church (pictured above.)

One of two pairs of railroad tracks in the sidewalk just north of 117 Bimini Place.

One of two pairs of railroad tracks in the sidewalk just north of 117 Bimini Place.

There are a few remaining traces of the old streetcar tracks. There are tracks (pictured above) that cross the sidewalk just north of eco-village’s 117 Bimini building. These tracks continue into the lot behind Red’s Auto Repair, at the southwest corner of Bimini Place and First Street. When the city built the shared street project here in 2008, they converted this sidewalk to permeable concrete. I heard that the streetcar rails weren’t in the city’s project design drawings. The crew that was out here to re-do the sidewalk came across the tracks and decided to leave them in place and to add the decorative brick treatment around them.

Prior to the street being resurfaced last year, there were cracks in the street that revealed the outlines of tracks beneath. I remember being able to see the actual rails in the street in one pothole… so the tracks are still out there under the asphalt. There’s also, outside Seijin’s Auto Repair, a small section of oddly curved sidewalk curb (shown below) that paralleled the tracks as they turned north onto Bimini. I think that the old rail right-of-way runs through the auto repair site… but I haven’t been on that site and looked for any rail remnants.

Curved sidewalk curb along south side of Bimini Place where the train formerly turned from its own east/west right-of-way onto Bimini Place.  (This curve is also visible in the upper left of the historic photo at the top of the post)

Curved sidewalk curb along south side of Bimini Place where the train formerly turned from its own east/west right-of-way onto Bimini Place. (This curve is also visible in the upper left of the historic photo at the top of the post)

Some additional reading/viewing/information here: (in addition to the above links in the story)
>Bresee Foundation Community Stories
>2004 LA Times “Then and Now” Article
>Militant Angeleno in Search of Sacatela Creek

12 thoughts on “Ride the Streetcar to the Bimini Baths

  1. Two weeks ago, as I sat at the waiting room of my doctor, I picked up a magazine which had a short write-up about the bimini baths. It mentioned that the place is now a church. I’ve been thinking that it must have stood where the Mijoo Peace Church is right now. Thanks for the article. I’ve always been really curious about that rail track near the auto shop.

    One more question. When did the streetcars stop?

  2. HI,
    I FOUND THIS VERY INTERESTING, AND IT BROUGHT BACK CHILDHOOD MEMORIES. I WAS SIX OR SEVEN THE FIRST TIME MY MOTHER AND I TOOK THE “STREET CAR” FROM HOLLYWOOD BLVD., AND HARVARD AVE., TO BIMINI BATHS. (NOW 66) I THINK THE BUILDING WAS GREEN, AND I STAYED IN THE SHALLOW END OF THE POOL….
    THANKS FOR THE MEMORY

  3. Pingback: Places to Visit: Bimini Slough Ecology Park « L.A. Creek Freak

  4. My husband passed away a few years ago and left a hand written story ofhis youth…I’ve been typing it up and he mentioned Bimini Baths a lot- I had to see if there really was such a place. He and “his gang” of boys used to ride the street cars all over, to the baths, and to the piers. thanks for publishing this-it helped clearify some things for me.

  5. My Grandfather, Thomas McGrath, worked at Bimini Hot Springs in L.A. during the 1920’s as a masseur. I have looked high and low for information about Bimini but it’s fairly limited. Thanks for the photos of the area. I have some photos of my Grandfather at Bimini and one of my Grandmother too. He died rather young but she had some good stories about the place. It was immensely popular and there wasn’t anything like it in the area.

  6. Thank you for the great article. It gives me information about my family history. My great grandfather was Dr. David Edwards. I remember my mom talking about the baths when I was little. Now I know what they looked like!

  7. My dad was a lifeguard at Bimini Baths during the 1930’s. He also drove one of their trucks, delivering bottled, official Bimini water to the local hotels. In those years, it was a hangout for movie stars…He had the privilege of teaching a teenaged Donald O’Connor to swim. I came along in the early 40’s, and wearing little white “water wings,” I learned to swim in both the indoor and outdoor pools. Great memories …thank you for the article and the photos!

  8. Tom, I tried twice with a long response to you but for some reason it didn’t get on here. If you want to correspond please leave a message here about how to connect.
    Thanks,
    Bonnie

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