Union Station LA - History

Union Station LA - History

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Golden Colorada Railway Musuem

Colorado Railroad Musuem located in Golden Colorado. The musuem was established in 1959 to preserve the Colordo's railroad history. The musuem has 7 steam locomotives one diesel locomotve and additional rolling stock on display.Phooe By Footwarrior - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8893578

Union Station's Harvey House

The Harvey House Restaurant opened with Los Angeles' Union Station 1939. This was the last Harvey House built as part of a railroad station, and it was designed by Mary Colter. The restaurant closed in 1967, unable to turn a profit as rail transportation slowly declined.

This picture gives the "waitress perspective." It's taken from behind the counter, looking out towards the station lobby. Everything's original, including the cork on the far wall, which was made from recycled corncobs. And those tres deco objects on the wall are speakers, so that patrons could hear announcements for train departures.

Now the Harvey House is only used in movies (think of the police station in Bladerunner) and for private parties.

A Harvey House fan site has some pictures of how it looked during the operational years. (Scroll down to find Los Angeles alphabetically in the California list.) "Legends of America" maintains an extensive history of the Harvey House restaurants, with a section on the Los Angeles Union Station (again, you must scroll down to it).

The picture above right shows the tooled leather partitions, a bit of the bright floor, and a wood and tile wait-station. The original wall tiles are in the background--if you look close, you can see the parrots.

The last picture is of the bar, hidden away in a room off to the side, its copper still gleaming.

Important Issue: Learn More

The culmination of over two decades of planning, Union Station embodies the excitement, promise, and wide-open spaces of Southern California in the early and mid-twentieth century.

The grand opening of the John and Donald Parkinson-designed train station was celebrated with a three-day extravaganza attended by nearly half a million people. The station's monumental architecture, a unique combination of Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco styles, assured that it would be one of the most identifiable landmarks in the city. Completed in 1939 as train travel began to be surpassed by other modes of transportation, Union Station was the last grand railroad station built in America.

The vast and extraordinary spaces now serve as station to the city's Metro Rail lines, and once again tens of thousands of people course through the building every day. In the mid-1990s, an intermodal transit center and twenty-eight-story office tower was added on the east side of Union Station. These additions draw on the 1939 station for inspiration, interpreting the vast spaces and southwestern colors in a new way, and incorporating the work of many different artists as part of the public spaces.

In 2011, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) purchased the historic station. Metro completed a campus-wide Historic Structures Report, a comprehensive rehabilitation plan which guided the work that followed.

Over the course of five years, beginning with work done in preparation for the station’s 75 th anniversary in 2014, Metro undertook an exhaustive project to restore, rehabilitate, and revitalize the historic station, top-to-bottom.

Time took a toll on L.A.’s beloved landmark. Dark residue from years of nicotine and environmental pollutants covered the interior walls and ceilings. Black patina concealed the station’s metal doors, windows, and bronze chandeliers.

The team cleaned the walls, ceiling, and metal finishes. They restored the wood of the waiting room chairs and the ticket booths in the ticket concourse. In accordance with the station’s historic color palette, the they repainted the building’s exterior.

The team reused original tiles to repair the roof, using replacements only when necessary.

Metro made a series of upgrades to bring the historic station into the 21 st century. They installed a new HVAC system, bringing air conditioning to the station for the first time. To better serve an increasing number of bicyclists, the team added a newly-constructed Bike Hub behind the north breezeway of the station, providing bike storage, repair, and retail.

Additionally, Metro committed to bringing the long-empty former Harvey House restaurant back to life. Closed since 1967, Metro found a willing tenant in the new Imperial Western Beer Company. Before the new restaurant opened, Metro cleaned and repaired the incredible interior space designed by Mary Colter, and made numerous tenant improvements, including installing an elevator to the restaurant’s mezzanine area.

This thorough and thoughtful long-term project earned a 2019 Conservancy Preservation Award. Congratulations to the project team!

Union Station's gardens and patios welcomed travelers to the sunny and mild climate of Los Angeles while the building’s blend of the Spanish Colonial Revival, Mission Revival and Moderne styles reflect popular architectural design in Southern California at the time.

Union Station was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) #101 in 1972 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. In 1992 Union Station underwent a major restoration effort.

At 80, Union Station tries to reinvent itself for a rail future

For two decades, Traxx was a top draw at Union Station — an Art Deco-themed restaurant with white linen tablecloths and a mahogany bar that reflected the history and architectural grandeur of its home.

But the restaurant closed this month after struggling to compete with myriad upscale bars and eateries in a resurgent downtown Los Angeles. “It’s a younger market now. They want to drink and hang out in a cool place,” former server Paul Kanemitsu said of the decline in customers. “We’re a little more mature.”

The closure of Traxx underscores the struggle Union Station is facing as it finds itself at a crossroads in its 80th year.

The transit hub bustles with 36 million visitors a year, slightly less than the traffic at Washington’s famed Union Station. But unlike in the nation’s capital — and in cities such as Denver and New York — L.A.’s Union Station has yet to become a central destination.

Officials are considering a variety of proposals, both modest and grand, to improve Union Station — with much riding on whether California’s troubled high-speed rail line actually makes it to downtown.

One effort currently underway is Link Union Station, a $2.2-billion project that hopes to make the facility a hub connecting Metro Rail’s intercity subway and light rail lines to allow for a better long-term travel experience — and hopefully stem falling ridership. The project is slated for completion before the Olympics come to Los Angeles in 2028.

In 2018, Metro passenger numbers hit their lowest point in more than a decade as travel options, including Lyft and Uber, have become more readily available. Air and automobile travel also continue to offer inexpensive alternatives to the traditional rail upon which Union Station was built.

Still, officials are convinced rail is going to be a much bigger part of Southern California’s transit future.

“We’re in a rail renaissance right now,” said Jeanet Owens, Metro’s senior executive officer. “A couple years ago, Los Angeles didn’t know that we’ll be hosting the Super Bowl, [possibly] the World Cup, and we’ll be hosting the Olympics. So we have a trifecta of events occurring in Los Angeles. It really gives us an opportunity to get people where they need to go … transit options in lieu of driving a car.”

Metro anticipates nearly 200,000 rail trips per day by 2040. That’s double the current number.

While officials debate the big-ticket transformation of Union Station, they are considering smaller improvements aimed at making the landmark a community hub.

The transportation agency has spent more than $21 million since 2013 on efforts to beautify and restore the depot. Improvements have included the installation of heat and air conditioning, as well as the cleaning of 268 leather chairs in the waiting area. Still underway are updates to the walkways and lighting, a redesign of the landscape to resemble the original plantings and the implementation of a system to accommodate the visually impaired.

Ken Pratt, Metro’s director of Union Station property management, thinks those projects could be completed within the next three years.

“Not only to facilitate travelers and commuters, but to enhance Union Station as a destination,” Pratt said.

A street and sidewalk project is scheduled to start in 2021 to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists and better connect Union Station with its surroundings. The sidewalk on the west side would be expanded, and at the front of the transit hub — where those headed to Olvera Street and the El Pueblo cultural monument typically walk through a parking lot area — a consolidated sidewalk would be added to take people directly across Alameda Street.

“These are ways to reactivate the station for people to experience it as a transit place and a destination,” said Jenna Hornstock, a Metro executive officer.

Union Station was completed in 1939 at a cost of $11 million, after a nearly 20-year legal battle between the city and the railroads over who would pay for it and where it would stand.

By the time the facility opened, transcontinental air traffic had become accessible and the automobile had gained more prominence. Trains were no longer the great conduits for transportation.

By the 1960s, Union Station was all but a ghost town. It’s been said that at times, the empty space was often filled only with birds.

That changed in the 1980s with the development of Metrolink regional transportation and the addition of other services such as Greyhound.

“It started to come back to life as the city recognized that the streets and freeways were not servicing its population sufficiently,” said Marlyn Musicant, author of “Los Angeles Union Station.” “There was a renewed interest in public transportation.”

While the building — with its combination of Art Deco, Mission Revival and Streamline Moderne architecture — is a testament to Los Angeles’ history, little of Union Station’s past is apparent on the inside.

“When you walk through, there’s very little evidence of the brilliant community once there,” said Eugene Moy, a longtime member of the Chinese Historical Society. When Union Station was built, entire neighborhoods were wiped out, including L.A.’s original Chinatown.

“What many in our community who support historic preservation hope is for Metro to incorporate educational materials in the station itself that will help teach about the diversity of Los Angeles,” Moy said.

At a recent 80th anniversary celebration for Union Station, vendors sold soaps and crafts from Los Angeles artists, and a miniature version of the train station dazzled children. Music filled the courtyard. A Cinco de Mayo festival took place across the street. A mariachi band played and Olvera Street bustled.

Mildred Ochoa and her husband brought their 2-year-old son. The family moved to Los Angeles two years ago from Chicago and didn’t know anything about the landmark building before their arrival. Now, it’s an integral part of Ochoa’s week as she commutes daily into downtown on the Gold Line.

UNCENSORED: Barbara Carrasco’s Mural L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective Returns to Union Station

Nearly 30 years ago, a portable mural about Los Angeles’s history by Chicana artist Barbara Carrasco was temporarily displayed during the 1990 Los Angeles Festival at Union Station. From September 1 to 16, travelers and local residents saw this mural depicting Los Angeles’s history—from its earliest settlements to the 1980s—through fifty-one scenes that unfolded in the strands of a woman’s hair (see legend below).

This mural was on View September 29–October 22, 2017
at Union Station in Los Angeles

Barbara Carrasco in Union Station with L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective, 1990. Courtesy Barbara Carrasco photo: Harry Gamboa, Jr.

Mural details, L. A. History: A Mexican Perspective, 1981. Courtesy LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes/California Historical Society Photos: Sean Meredith, Javier Guillen (copyright detail), 2017

Only a decade earlier, the mural was censored by the organization that had commissioned it, Los Angeles’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), who objected to a number of scenes, including some that told troubling but true stories about the experiences of the city’s people of color. The mural was never displayed in its intended location at 3rd and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles during the city’s bicentennial celebrations in 1981.

Two panels of Carrasco’s mural are tested in their intended location near Grand Central Market, 1981. Courtesy of Barbara Carrasco

L.A. History’s intended site, 2017. Courtesy LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes/California Historical Society photo: Oscar R. Castillo.

The CRA objected to fourteen scenes, including the Zoot Suit Riots Japanese American incarceration during World War II and the whitewashing of América Tropical (1932), a mural by Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros. The agency began voicing its objections to Carrasco’s carefully researched and selected depictions even before the artwork was completed.

Troubling scenes about the city’s history in L.A. History, 2017. (Top to bottom) Zoot Suit Riots site of 1871 lynching of Chinese railroad workers (red background) and below it famous former slave Biddy Mason relocation and incarceration of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent during World War II whitewashing of David Alfaro Siqueiros’s mural América Tropical (1932) journalist Ruben Salazar, who died during the August 29, 1970 Chicano Moratorium march (top right) and urban redevelopment projects such as Dodger Stadium and Bunker Hill, which displaced entire communities of color. Courtesy LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes/California Historical Society photo: Sean Meredith.

Carrasco had created the mural with broad community support. She had interviewed historians and community groups about important aspects of the city’s history. Students from the Summer Youth Employment Program, fellow artists, and even family members had modeled for and helped create the mural. Little did Carrasco imagine that her work would be caught up in a conflict between an institutional version of Los Angeles history and her Chicana, feminist viewpoint.

Carrasco based the mural’s main figure on this photograph of her sister, Frances Carrasco, c. 1981. Courtesy of Barbara Carrasco

Youth workers paint sections of L.A. History, 1981. Courtesy of Barbara Carrasco.

Artist Yreina Cervantez paints a section of L.A. History, 1981. Courtesy of Barbara Carrasco.

The CRA requested that Carrasco revise L.A. History, but Carrasco refused to change her work. When the agency tried to take ownership of the mural, she moved it to a location in East Los Angeles for safekeeping. After a long dispute, she received legal possession of the mural and control of its content. But because of the controversy, the mural was not shown publicly and remained unseen in its entirety until its two-week display at Union Station during the 1990 Los Angeles Festival.

The forty-three wood and Masonite panels that make up Barbara Carrasco’s censored mural, L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective, currently reside in a Pasadena storage facility, unseen by the public and awaiting a permanent home. Courtesy LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes/California Historical Society photo: Oscar R. Castillo

The people of Los Angeles never saw the complete mural again—until now. With no permanent, public home, its forty-three panels are kept in storage at Carrasco’s expense. The mural’s display at Union Station for the first time in more than twenty-five years is an important step in bringing it back to the public—and in recognizing the importance of Chicana/o art in Los Angeles’s public spaces.

Legend, L. A. History: A Mexican Perspective by Barbara Carrasco (click to enlarge). Courtesy LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes/California Historical Society.


Pre-Union Station terminals Edit

Before Union Station opened, each of the major railroads operated out of one of two stations:

    (1851–1907): Baltimore and Ohio Railroad trains arrived and left from this railroad station. It was located at the corner of New Jersey Avenue NW and C Street NW. [10] (1872–1907): Baltimore and Potomac Railroad (B&P) (a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad), the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, and the Southern Railway all left from this train station. It was located at the corner of B Street NW (now Constitution Avenue) and 6th Street NW. [10]

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line ran east on D Street NE across North Capitol, then north on Delaware Avenue NE. It divided into two lines. The Metropolitan branch continued north on 1st Street NE, turning east on New York Ave NE and continuing north through Eckington. The other line turned east onto I Street NE up to 7th Street NE where it headed back north on what is today West Virginia Avenue running next to the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb now Gallaudet University. [11]

Construction Edit

When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad announced in 1901 that they had agreed to build a new union station together, the city had two reasons to celebrate. [12] The decision meant that both railroads would soon remove their trackwork and terminals from the National Mall. Though changes there appeared only gradually, the consolidation of the depots allowed the creation of the Mall as it appears today. Secondly, the plan to bring all the city's railroads under one roof promised that Washington would finally have a station both large enough to handle large crowds and impressive enough to befit the city's role as the federal capital. The station was to be designed under the guidance of Daniel Burnham, a famed Chicago architect and member of the U.S. Senate Park Commission, who in September 1901 wrote to the Commission's chairman, Sen. James McMillan, of the proposed project: "The station and its surroundings should be treated in a monumental manner, as they will become the vestibule of the city of Washington, and as they will be in close proximity to the Capitol itself." [13]

After two years of complicated and sometimes contentious negotiations, Congress passed S. 4825 (58th-1st session) entitled "An Act to provide a union railroad station in the District of Columbia" which was signed into law by 26th President Theodore Roosevelt on February 28, 1903. [14] The Act authorized the Washington Terminal Company (which was to be jointly owned by the B&O and the PRR-controlled Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad) to construct a station "monumental in character" that would cost at least $4 million (equivalent to $98.3 million in 2019 [15] ). (The main station building's actual cost eventually exceeded $5.9 million [equivalent to $145 million in 2019 [15] ].) Including additional outlays for new terminal grades, approaches, bridges, viaducts, coach and freight yards, tunnels, shops, support buildings and other infrastructure, the total cost to the Terminal Company for all the improvements associated with Union Station exceeded $16 million (equivalent to $393 million in 2019 [15] ). This cost was financed by $12 million (equivalent to $295 million in 2019 [15] ) in first mortgage bonds as well as advances by the owners which were repaid by stock and cash. [ citation needed ]

Each carrier also received $1.5 million (equivalent to $36.9 million in 2019 [15] ) in government funding to compensate them for the costs of eliminating grade crossings in the city. The only railroad station in the nation specifically authorized by the U.S. Congress, the building was primarily designed by William Pierce Anderson of the Chicago architectural firm of D.H. Burnham & Company. [16] [17]

A 1902 drawing of a proposal for the design of Union Station

Union Station in 1906 before its opening. Notice the absence of the Columbus Fountain

Statue of Thales representing electricity being hoisted up

Impact on the neighborhood Edit

Though the project was supported on the Federal level, there was opposition at the local level. The new depot would displace residents and impact the new neighborhoods east of the tracks.

On January 10, 1902, a meeting took place between the representatives of the railroads and those of the District of Columbia to present preliminary plans regarding the construction of the Union Depot (Union Station). The plan proposed creating tunnels under the tracks for K, L and M Street NE but that H Street would be closed. The street would be closed 300 feet (91 m) on both sides of Delaware Avenue (for a total of 600 feet [180 m]). If a tunnel was to be built for H Street NE, the cost would be an extra $10,000 (equivalent to $246,000 in 2019 [15] ). [18]

On January 13, 1902, the Northeast Washington Citizens' Association meeting at the Northeast Temple on H Street NE was outraged over this plan. Representatives of Congress and the Railroads were present to hear the opposition of the citizens present. The president of the Association that the Pennsylvania Railroad controlled Congress and a member of the Association threatened to take them to court. The loss of a major access road to downtown for the residents of Northeast, the loss of millions of dollars of business properties and of the business it represents, the closure of a vital streetcar line used by commuters was unacceptable considering the cost of building an access across the tracks. [19]

At the March 10, 1902 meeting, the President of the Association informed the audience that the District Commissioners was supportive of requests of the citizens of Washington, DC and that H Street would remain open with a 750-foot (230 m) tunnel running under the tracks. [20]

The Station and tracks took the place of over 100 houses in the heart of an impoverished neighborhood called "Swampoodle" where crime was rampant. It was the end of a community but the beginning of a new era for Washington, DC. Tiber Creek, which was prone to flooding, was put in a tunnel. Delaware Avenue disappeared from the map between Massachusetts Avenue and Florida Avenue under the tracks. Only a small section remains next to the tracks between L and M Streets NE. [21]

Map showing the impact of the railway tracks

Map showing the impact of Union Station

Opening and operation Edit

The first B&O train to arrive with passengers was the Pittsburgh Express, which did so at 6:50 a.m. on October 27, 1907, while the first PRR train arrived three weeks later on November 17. The main building itself was completed in 1908. Of its 32 station tracks, 20 enter from the northeast and terminate at the station's headhouse. The remaining 12 tracks enter below ground level from the south via a 4,033-foot twin-tube tunnel passing under Capitol Hill and an 898-foot long subway under Massachusetts Avenue which allow through traffic direct access to the rail networks both north and south of the city. [22] [23] [24] [25]

Among the new station's unique features was an opulent "Presidential Suite" (aka "State Reception Suite") where the U.S. President, State Department, and Congressional leaders could receive distinguished visitors arriving in Washington. Provided with a separate entrance, the suite (which was first used by 27th President William Howard Taft in 1909) was also meant to safeguard the Chief Executive during his travels in an effort to prevent a repeat of the July 1881 assassination of 20th President James A. Garfield in the old former Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station. [25] [26] The suite was converted in December 1941, during World War II to a U.S.O. (United Services Organization) canteen, which went on to serve 6.5 million military service members during World War II. Although closed on May 31, 1946, it was reopened in 1951 as a U.S.O. lounge and dedicated by President Harry Truman as a permanent "home away from home" for traveling U.S. Armed Services members. [27] [28]

On the morning of January 15, 1953, the Pennsylvania Railroad's Federal, the overnight train from Boston, crashed into the station. When the engineer tried to apply the trainline brakes two miles out of the platforms, he discovered that he only had engine brakes. A switchman on the approach to the station noticed the runaway train and telephoned a warning to the station, as the train coasted downhill into track 16. The GG1 locomotive, No. 4876, hit the bumper block at about 35 miles per hour (56 km/h), jumped onto the platform, destroyed the stationmaster's office at the end of the track, took out a newsstand, and was on its way to crashing through the wall into the Great Hall. Just then, the floor of the terminal, having never been designed to carry the weight of a locomotive, gave way, dropping the engine into the basement. The 447,000-pound (202,800 kg) electric locomotive fell into about the center of what is now the food court. Remarkably, no one was killed, and passengers in the rear cars thought that they had only had a rough stop. An investigation revealed that an anglecock on the brakeline had been closed, probably by an icicle knocked from an overhead bridge. The accident inspired the finale of the 1976 film Silver Streak. [29] The durable design of the GG1 made its damage repairable, and it was soon back in service after being hauled away in pieces to the PRR's main shops in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Before the latter action was undertaken, however, the GG1 and the hole it made were temporarily planked over and hidden from view due to the imminent inauguration of General Dwight D. Eisenhower as the thirty-fourth President of the United States. [30]

Until intercity passenger rail service was taken over by Amtrak in 1971, Union Station served as a hub for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, Pennsylvania Railroad, and Southern Railway. The Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad provided a link to Richmond, Virginia, about 100 miles (161 km) to the south, where major north–south lines of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Seaboard Air Line Railroad provided service to the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. [31] World War II was the busiest period in the station's history in terms of passenger traffic with up to 200,000 people passing through on a single day. [8]

Trains at the station shortly after its completion, circa 1908

Train concourse, circa 1915

U.S.O. Lounge (former Presidential Suite)

Decline Edit

In 1967, the chairman of the Civil Service Commission expressed interest in using Union Station as a visitor center during the upcoming Bicentennial celebrations. Funding for this was collected over the next six years, and the reconstruction of the station included outfitting the Main Hall with a recessed pit to display a slide show presentation. This was officially the PAVE (Primary Audio-Visual Experience), but was sarcastically referred to as "the Pit". The entire project was completed, save for the parking garage, and opening ceremonies were held on Independence Day 1976. Due to a lack of publicity and convenient parking, the National Visitor Center was never popular. Financial considerations caused the National Park Service to close the theaters, end the slideshow presentation in "the Pit", and lay off almost three-quarters of the center's staff on October 28, 1978. [32]

After the leaking roof caused the partial collapse of plaster from the ceiling in the eastern wing of the building, the National Park Service declared the entire structure unsafe on February 23, 1981, and sealed the structure to the public. [33]

Restoration Edit

The 1981 ceiling collapse deeply alarmed members of Congress and officials in the new Reagan administration. On April 3, despite a budget austerity push, administration officials proposed a plan to appropriate $7 million (equivalent to $17 million in 2019 [15] ) to allow the Department of the Interior to finish its authorized $8 million (equivalent to $19.4 million in 2019 [15] ) roof repair program. In addition, the government of the District of Columbia would be permitted to reprogram up to $40 million (equivalent to $97.1 million in 2019 [15] ) in federal highway money to finish the parking garage at Union Station. [34] On October 19, administration officials and members of the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation agreed on additional aspects of the plan. Up to $1 million (equivalent to $2.43 million in 2019 [15] ) would be authorized and appropriated to fund a study on needed repairs at the station and a second study on the feasibility of turning Union Station into a retail complex. The Department of Transportation (DOT) was authorized to sign contracts with any willing corporation to construct a retail complex in and around Union Station. [35] DOT was also authorized to spend up to $29 million (equivalent to $70.4 million in 2019 [15] ) in already-appropriated money from its Northeast Corridor rail capital building program on Union Station repairs. [36] The revised bill also required DOT to take control of Union Station from the Department of the Interior, [35] and for DOT to buy out its lease with the station's private-sector owners. The buy-out would be spread over six years, for which $275,000 a year (equivalent to $6.68 million in 2019 [15] ) was authorized and appropriated. [36] The bill required DOT to operate Union Station as a train station once more, complete with ticketing, waiting areas, baggage areas, and boarding. Although no statement was made in the bill, Senate aides said the intent was to have Amtrak tear down its 1960s-era station at the rear of Union Station and move its operations back inside. [35] The Senate passed the bill unanimously on November 23. [37] The House approved the bill on December 16. [36] President Ronald Reagan signed the Union Station Redevelopment Act into law on December 29. [38] [39]

As a result of the Redevelopment Act of 1981, Union Station was closed for restoration and refurbishing. Mold was growing in the leaking ceiling of the Main Hall, and the carpet laid out for an Inauguration Day celebration was full of cigarette-burned holes. In 1988, Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole awarded $70 million (equivalent to $133 million in 2019 [15] ) to the restoration effort. "The Pit" was transformed into a new basement level, and the Main Hall floor was refitted with marble. While installing new HVAC systems, crews discovered antique items in shafts that had not been opened since the building's creation. [ citation needed ]

A new life Edit

The station reopened in its present form on September 29, 1988. [40] The former "Pit" area was replaced with an AMC movie theater (later Phoenix Theatres), which closed on October 12, 2009, and was replaced with an expanded food court and a Walgreens store. The food court still retains the original arches under which the trains were parked as well as the track numbers on those arches. A variety of shops opened along the Concourse and Main Hall, and a new Amtrak terminal at the back behind the original Concourse. Trains no longer enter the original Concourse but the original, decorative gates were relocated to the new passenger concourse. In 1994, this new passenger concourse was renamed to honor W. Graham Claytor Jr., who served as Amtrak's president from 1982 to 1993. The decorative elements of the station were also restored. The skylights were preserved, but sunlight no longer illuminates the Concourse because it is blocked by the newer roof structure built directly overhead to support the aging, original structure. [ citation needed ]

In June 2015, the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation released the first ever Historic Preservation Plan to guide future preservation and restoration efforts at the Washington Union Station complex. [41]

In January 2017, the expansion and refurbishment of the Washington Union Station was listed as one of the priority infrastructure projects of the Donald Trump administration at an estimated cost of $8.7 billion. [42]

Architect Daniel H. Burnham, assisted by Pierce Anderson, was inspired by a number of architectural styles. Classical elements included the Arch of Constantine (exterior, main façade) and the great vaulted spaces of the Baths of Diocletian (interior) prominent siting at the intersection of two of Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant's avenues, with an orientation that faced the United States Capitol just five blocks away a massive scale, including a façade stretching more than 600 feet (180 m) and a waiting room ceiling 96 feet (29 m) above the floor stone inscriptions and allegorical sculpture in the Beaux-Arts style expensive materials such as marble, gold leaf, and white granite from a previously unused quarry. [ citation needed ] [43]

In the Attic block, above the main cornice of the central block, stand six colossal statues (modeled on the Dacian prisoners of the Arch of Constantine) created by Louis St. Gaudens. These are entitled "The Progress of Railroading" and their iconography expresses the confident enthusiasm of the American Renaissance movement:


Widely regarded as “the last of the great train stations,” Los Angeles Union Station is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States. For information on station amenities, events and transportation service , visit unionstationla.com .

Built in 1939, Union Station combines Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, Mission Revival and Streamline Moderne styles. The architecture team included John and Donald Parkinson who also designed Los Angeles City Hall and other city landmarks.

Originally intended as a transcontinental terminus station for the Union Pacific, Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railways, the station was a major hub for troop movement during World War II. With the advent of air travel, train service declined at depots across the nation – including Union Station.

The station’s historic 161,000 square foot terminal was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and the station was restored in 1992. Beginning in the 1970s, growing use of Amtrak and expansion of local and regional rail revitalized the station as a major transportation hub. Under the Alameda District Specific Plan adopted in 1996, the 47-acre Union Station property has six million square feet of development rights.

Metro acquired the station in 2011, managing the property that currently serves as a transportation hub for Metro, Metrolink, Amtrak and other transportation services as well an urban mixed-use development site. Adjacent downtown Los Angeles and El Pueblo, the stations’ close proximity to the Los Angeles Civic Center, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, the Arts District, Los Angeles River and Boyle Heights make it a favorite stop for Los Angeles visitors and locals alike.

Los Angeles, CA – Union Station (LAX)

Los Angeles, California

Union Station
800 North Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Annual Ticket Revenue (FY 2020): $40,856,632
Annual Station Ridership (FY 2020): 708,925

  • Facility Ownership: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA)
  • Parking Lot Ownership: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA)
  • Platform Ownership: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA)
  • Track Ownership: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA)

Alex Khalfin
Regional Contact
[email protected]
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please visit Amtrak.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).

Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS) retains a history that rivals that of the city whose name it bears. Today, it is a vital intermodal transportation center that serves as a hub for Amtrak intercity passenger rail Metrolink commuter rail and Metro rail and Metro bus services. As of 2019, more than 100,000 travelers, commuters and visitors pass through the station every day.

Originally known as the “Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal”, the station was intended to consolidate the services of the Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroads in one modern facility. Construction costs were shared among the railroads. With Los Angeles in the midst of a population boom that began in the 1920s, the new station became a necessity.

Shortly after its completion, World War II presented further opportunity for wide-scale use of the LAUS facilities for troop movement. As America’s defense industries increased accordingly with the needs of the military, so did job opportunities in the Los Angeles area. The station was also utilized as a major hub through which these defense workers arrived in California.

To celebrate the station’s opening, the multi-day program kicked off with a preview and reception for railroad officials, guests of honor and long-time employees on May 2, 1939. The next day, there was a historical parade with the theme of “Railroads Build the Nation,” followed by the formal dedication in the afternoon. Visitors could also tour the station and watch the “Romance of the Rails” show that traced the history of transportation in the state. The station entered regular passenger service on May 7th.

The building that exists today was designed in part by John and Donald Parkinson, the famous father and son duo who founded The Parkinson Firm of Los Angeles. Their combination of Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival and Art Deco designs was used to accentuate the city’s personal history and heritage alongside its newly found modernity. The station quickly became a reflection of the grandeur that is Los Angeles.

In the waiting room, travelers stroll to their trains along terracotta tiled floors accented with inlaid marble strips. Walls are clad with both travertine and early models of acoustical tile. Adjacent to the indoor waiting areas are beautiful enclosed garden patios and courtyards. These lush outdoor spaces were planned by landscape architect Tommy Tomson, who chose a selection of colorful and fragrant plants including orange trees, fan palms and espalier magnolias.

Hunger could be satisfied with a visit to the famous Harvey House restaurant, whose interior was designed by architect Mary Colter. Her work skillfully blended Spanish and American Indian design aesthetics with modern influences, to which she added touches of humor and whimsy. This is evident in the restaurant’s floor, laid out in a zigzag pattern meant to resemble a Navajo blanket. In autumn 2018, a new brewpub opened in the space following extensive renovation.

With the advent of the interstate highway system and jet craft in the decades following World War II, rail patronage declined in the 1950s and 1960s. However, growing Amtrak and transit usage has led LAUS to be revitalized, allowing the station to once again serve as a major transportation hub for people from all over America. This newfound viability was due in part to the efforts of the Catellus Development Corporation.

Originally developed in 1984 as the Santa Fe Pacific Realty Corporation and designed with the intent of handling all non-railroad real estate interests for the Santa Fe Industries and Southern Pacific Company, the company was renamed Catellus in 1990, the same year that it purchased LAUS. Catellus subsequently embarked on a major renovation of the station and developed two new office towers and an apartment complex on the 51-acre site.

In April 2011, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) bought LAUS for $75 million. The purchase, which included 38 acres and 5.9 million square feet of development rights, allows LACMTA to build on the property to meet the station’s current and future transportation needs.

LACMTA oversaw the creation of a master plan to guide the station’s development. The plan, now being implemented, has four primary goals: celebrate the station’s history and design improve the passenger experience create a great destination that attracts not only transit users but also residents and visitors and prepare for potential high-speed rail service. A separate study examined how to better link the station site to surrounding areas through pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

In early 2021, LACMTA wrapped up an eight-year, $4.1 million restoration effort at Union Station. Skilled craftspeople and artisans cleaned and restored the chandeliers, black walnut ticket counter, acoustic and ceramic tile, and other finishes throughout the building. The red clay tile roof was also restored and plaster elements throughout the building were patched and repaired.

Inside, painting conservators rediscovered the original floral patterns painted on the ceilings of the principal spaces. Created by artist Herman Sachs, the stylized designs recall the colorful wildflowers for which California is world famous. Over the decades, their vibrant appearance and form had become obscured by cigarette smoke and other environmental pollutants, but they once again enliven the station.

Just as the restoration work was coming to a close, Union Station, which has been featured in numerous films, from Bugsy to Blade Runner, 1982 to Catch Me If You Can, was chosen as a location for the 93rd Academy Awards in April 2021.

The magnificent history of this station is fitting, seeing as it sits adjacent to the site of the original Los Angeles settlement, where the famous Olvera Street is located today. The city was founded in1781 by Felipe de Neve, a Spanish governor. The small pueblo, whose original title was “The Town of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula,” consisted of 44 settlers of mixed cultural backgrounds. Control of Los Angeles would shift hands quite often. It remained under Spanish rule until 1821, when it became a part of Mexico following the Mexican secession from Spain. The Mexican hold over the California region was brief, as it came under the control of the United States in 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War.

The Los Angeles region become a population mecca in the 1920s, a cultural and media capital and current home to the nation’s most notable entertainment companies. It is also home to many of America’s most notable landmarks, such as the Hollywood sign and Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Bowl.

The Pacific Surfliner service is primarily financed through funds made available by the State of California, Department of Transportation, and is managed by the LOSSAN Joint Powers Authority.

Los Angeles Union Station also has an Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge SM available to Sleeping car passengers, Pacific Surfliner Business class passengers with same-day tickets and Amtrak Guest Rewards members (Select Plus and Select Executive levels).

After 27 years in a warehouse, a once-censored mural rises in L.A.'s Union Station

Barbara Carrasco has waited 27 years for this moment. The artist stands in Union Station’s cavernous former ticket concourse and gazes up at her massive mural, “L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective,” as it’s being installed, her hazel eyes wet with emotion.

“This is amazing. My baby’s going up,” she says, one hand over her heart.

Carrasco painted the mural’s 43 panels — a chronological history of Los Angeles, from prehistoric times to the founding of the city in 1781 to the year she created the piece, 1981 — for Los Angeles’ bicentennial. She was a drafting artist for the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, which commissioned the work. It was intended to hang on the exterior of a McDonald’s on Broadway in downtown L.A.

“I’m a Mexican, and I wanted to show a diverse reflection of Los Angeles,” Carrasco said. “This was my chance to show what I wish was in the history books.”

The city had approved Carrasco’s sketches of the mural, but while she was painting it, the agency asked her to remove 14 images from the work in progress. Although much of the imagery is pleasant, like the Hollywood sign and the construction of City Hall, other pictures depict ugly incidents experienced by communities of color. The CRA requested cuts of former African American slave-turned-entrepreneur and philanthropist Biddy Mason, the Japanese American internments during World War II and the 1943 Zoot Suit riots, in which Navy personnel attacked Mexican American youth.

Carrasco refused to paint over her work, and the mural project was canceled.

“They said, ‘Why do you wanna focus on negative images?’ ” said Carrasco, who had involved family members and other artists in the project as well as children from different neighborhoods who helped with the brushwork and also appear in the mural.

“I was very disappointed for everybody, all the artists who worked on it, the young people. It was unexpected. I got a little depressed over it, all this work and then nothing. It was a hold on my life, actually.”

Barbara Carrasco is seen with her mural in 1983. Los Angeles Times The full scope of the mural “L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective” is seen in the book "¡Murales Rebeldes! L.A. Chicana/o Murals Under Siege.” Sean Meredith / “¡Murales Rebeldes! L.A. Chicana/o Murals Under Siege” Miguel Medina, left, and Kevan Overend prepare Carrasco’s panels for installation in Union Station. Biddy Mason, the former slave, can be seen in the foreground. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Carrasco’s mural sat in storage for nearly a decade. In 1990, it was displayed for several weeks at Union Station — the only time the work had been shown in its entirety. When the exhibition was over, the work was packed up again and returned to storage, at Carrasco’s expense, in Pasadena.

The mural’s reinstallation at Union Station — an “un-censoring,” as it’s being called — is part of the exhibition “¡Murales Rebeldes! L.A. Chicana/o Murals Under Siege,” co-curated by LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes and the California Historical Society. It’s their offering for the Getty-led Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

The exhibition explores significant artists or collectives whose public murals were in some way censored, destroyed or neglected. (Featured artists include Willie Herrón III, Ernesto de la Loza, Alma López, Roberto Chavez, Sergio O’Cadiz Moctezuma, Yreina Cervántez and East Los Streetscapers.) Through documentary photographs and sketches, personal letters and city records, even concrete chunks of murals, the exhibition tells not only the stories of the art and the artists but also speaks to the assertion of — and reception to — Chicana/o identity in public art.

“Barbara’s mural is an amazing example of the themes of the show,” co-curator Jessica Hough said. “The broader issues around censorship are really important and it speaks to the history of our entire city, but does so from a very specific and feminist perspective. [We wanted] to show that the kind of history being portrayed here, from the perspective of L.A.’s communities of color, is woven together, as it is visually in the piece, and that it matters.”

At a time when the veracity of the government is being called into question and historical monuments are being reconsidered, Carrasco’s mural is especially timely, co-curator Erin M. Curtis said.

“We’re at a moment when truth has become ever more subjective,” she said. “Historical narratives are being reframed. There’s an attempt to erase certain historical narratives — and it’s so important for us to have this kind of complete and inclusive history presented to the public.”

It’s needed more now, Carrasco said, than when she first painted the mural.

“It’s about preserving our history, our real history,” she said.

The installation of the mural is complicated. It can’t be hung directly on Union Station’s wall, as drilling into the historic building would damage it. Instead, the 43 panels, which are 8 feet tall and made of wood, are affixed to an armature structure that hangs from 30-foot-high scaffolding.

Carrasco watches crew members, who are scattered across the scaffolding, which spans nearly the length of the Union Station wall. Most of the panels are still wrapped in plastic and sit on carts, while others are laid out on the floor on packing blankets.

The artist hovers over some panels on the ground, taking in the imagery, while the sound of drilling cuts through the air. “Oh, my,” she said, smoothing her hair with her hand. “The colors are really preserved — as vibrant now as they were — because it was in the dark for so long.”

Barbara Carrasco kneels with two sections of her 43-panel mural, “L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective (1981).” Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times A detail from Carrasco’s mural shows 19th century outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez, celebrated by some as a Mexican Robin Hood, and Vasquez Rocks. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times Kevan Overend, left, and Alan Bolger work on putting another panel into place. This one depicts a cannon used to defend the city in the Mexican American War. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

As she moves between the panels, Carrasco’s emotions swing between mellow nostalgia and childlike joy, with occasional bursts of maternal concern for the installation crew members, who balance themselves on wood planks 20 and 30 feet high.

“That looks so scary. I’m so scared for them,” she said.

Carrasco said she conducted months of research when first sketching the piece, poring over L.A. history books and speaking with historians as well as descendants of the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe. Painting the mural — first in her downtown Los Angeles studio, then on a vacant floor of City Hall East, where there was more space — took about eight months.

She leans over a panel depicting the construction of the San Gabriel Mission.

“That’s one of the kids who worked on the mural. He’s portrayed as one of the indigenous people. Yeah, that was fun putting him in there,” she said, before strolling to a panel representing the Mexican American War. “The Streetscapers painted it,” she said. “It’s their style, real loose.”

Then: “There she is, Biddy Mason!” She nods at the former slave’s face on the mural. “She’s an inspiration. She was a cool lady. She fought for her freedom.”

One panel depicts the 1932 painting — and the 1934 whitewashing — of David Alfaro Siqueiros’ famed Olvera Street mural, “América Tropical.”

“I’m a big fan of his,” Carrasco said. “And I thought it was important that a major Mexican muralist came to L.A. to do a mural, and the same thing — it was censored.”

The official unveiling of Carrasco’s mural was Friday, and the work will hang in Union Station through Oct. 22. Roundtable discussions and other public programs have been scheduled, and the “¡Murales Rebeldes!” curators have arranged for self-guided walking tours that will stop at three sites: Carrasco’s Union Station piece, the since-restored Siqueiros mural nearby and, finally, La Plaza, which has the exhibition.

Carrasco’s hope now is to find a permanent home for her mural. Union Station would be perfect, she says. “So many people come through here, and it’d be a welcoming kind of visual narrative of L.A. history.”

Carrasco’s eyes are still glassy with wonder as she stands in the concourse watching her work come to life, panel by panel.

“I’m 62. I just feel like it’s time to let go of it. So much blood sweat and tears went into this piece,” she said, noting again the collection of people who worked on the mural. “I just feel we were all let down when it went into storage. I’m just so happy now that people will have an opportunity to see it.”

You can find all of The Times’ feature articles and reviews on Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA at latimes.com/pst.

Co-curator Jessica Hough and her son Ansel, 4, pause to take in Barbara Carrasco’s mural during its Union Station installation, which is now complete. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Union Station got to play an actual train station in 2003’s Seabiscuit, in the scene when Charles Howard gives a speech before traveling to New York for the match race. Fans have pointed out that, while the scene in the movie takes place in 1938, Union Station didn’t open until a year later. The more you know, right?

Union Station also played a train station (surprisingly few of its roles are actually as a train station) in 2001’s Pearl Harbor. It provides the backdrop for part of Rafe (Ben Affleck) and Evelyn’s (Kate Beckinsale) love story. While Affleck and Beckinsale definitely command the audience’s attention in the scene, Union is unmistakable in the background.

Watch the video: Union Station Completed Renovations in Downtown Toronto July 2021