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.”
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.)
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 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.)
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.
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