Union Station, Los Angeles

4 out of 5 stars 4 Stars - 12 Reviews

800 N. Alameda

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  • Union Station (Nov 2012)
    Union Station (Nov 2012)
    by Dabs
  • Union Station (Nov 2012)
    Union Station (Nov 2012)
    by Dabs
  • Hallways
    Hallways
    by Yaqui
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    Union Station

    by Dabs Updated Mar 11, 2013

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    Union Station (Nov 2012)
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    After visiting Olvera Street, be sure to also pay a visit to Union Station about a block away.

    Union Station was built in 1939, it's Spanish/mission style architecture has a much different feel than the grand main rail stations in other cities like New York's Grand Central Terminal built in 1913 or the Chicago's neoclassical Union Station built in 1913-25.

    Since the station is in Los Angeles, it's not surprising that it has been used in many films including The Way We Were, Blade Runner and Guilty By Suspicion. It was also used in the film Union Station which was set in Union Station in Chicago, Mission Style is definitely not an architectural style used in Chicago!

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    Union Station

    by MM212 Updated Dec 16, 2011
    Union Station, Dec 2011
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    Hard to believe, but California does have a railway network. Union Station is the main Los Angeles stop and it is located in Downtown Los Angeles, just north of Little Tokyo and south of Chinatown. The grand Neo-colonial style building was completed in 1939 by the architects John Parkinson and Donal Parkinson. The former was one of the architects who designed the Los Angeles City Hall.

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    Metropolitan Water District Plaza Gardens

    by Yaqui Written Jan 24, 2010

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    Connected to the Union Station South gardens is the Metropolitan Water District building via a beautiful plaza. Within this plaza is a beautiful aray of flowers, plants and some impressive fountains with beautiful mosaics. One of the fountains that is along the West wall is filled with Koi fish. They have some wonderful tables to sit and relax. A couple of people were enjoying the weather and reading. Just another lovely area for passengers and employees can enjoy.

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    Patsaouras Transit Center

    by Yaqui Updated Jan 24, 2010

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    At the East end of Union Station is the bus transit center. I think the plaque says it all about this individual.

    The plaque reads:

    Transportation should not simply be the random movement of people. At its best, it can bring people together spiritually as well as physically, as it speeds them towards their destinations. A great transit center should, therefore, teach people about where they come from, celebrate the place where they have arrived, and inspire them as they continue on their journey.

    Nick Patsaouras (1943-)
    Who recognizes, as did his Greek forebears that the quality with which we build our civic buildings and public spaces is a reflection of the value we place in our democratic institutions.

    In gratitude for his vision, leadership, and perseverance in guiding the planning, design, and realization of the MTA Headquarters Building and this Transit Plaza.

    Caltrans Development Corporation
    November, 1996.

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    Union Station 1939

    by Yaqui Updated Jan 24, 2010

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    Taken from Olvera Street West End
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    This station represents an era that has yet to be forgotten and to be still appreciated. I have for years wanted to see her up in person. Used as a backdrop for many Hollywood movies, Union Station still holds that beautiful architecture of the late 1930's. She has seen the trends of travel good and bad. Fortunately she is experiencing a new trend and need of affordable travel. I enjoy my time exploring the grounds and imagining seeing William Holden, Glen Ford, and James Cagney casually awaiting their next train or that welcoming home coming of some G.I.'s returning from the war. To me it represent Spanish Colonial design with painted Aztec/Santa Fe designs in various areas, marble inlaid floors, beautiful wood beams on the ceiling and the beautiful deco style waiting room chairs. The huge lighting fixtures are original. Make sure you take a peek at the grand ticketing area. They have a barrier, but you can still peek in. Just to west of the buiding is the old train restaurant. Although closed off, you can still look inside the glass doors and see how grand it was. One of the last Harvey House restaurants, but still in intack. There are two gardens on each side of the train main entrances with some beautiful fountains. The West side is the original entrance, where the East entrance is where the bus services are and is of a modern design, but just as beautiful. This station still has 10 tracks servicing 80 train departures. A true gem being appreciated.

    National Register of Historic Places #80000811
    and Los Angeles Historic–Cultural Monument #101

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    Union Station Art ~East Lobby

    by Yaqui Updated Jan 24, 2010

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    While browsing around the train station we noticed so many wonderful pieces of pubic art. The first is the Mural for City of Dreams, River of History by Richard Wyatt. The second is by May Sun, the River Bench made of beautiful mosiacs tiles and the third is a sculpted mountain attached to the bench is actually includes chinese pots, bottles, and other artifacts, that were found during excavations around Union Station since some of the additional structure was built on the original site of Chinatown. The fourth is the floor through out the lobby represents Los Angeles' native flora, fauna, and animals by May Sun also.

    Located towards the East Entrance of Union Station.

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    Union Station ~ North Gardens & Fountains

    by Yaqui Updated Jan 24, 2010

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    North Gardens
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    On the North and South side of the Union Station building is located some really special places. On the North end is an area of relaxation. I lovely mosiac fountain that is located against the far wall. Lots of wonderful benches to sit and just relax. We sat out here while waiting for our next train home. The South side there is another lovely area that is more open and with not a lot of shade trees, but just as inviting. It has lots of wonderful plants and fauna to enjoy and if your so incline on a sunny day, soak up the sun.

    There are three other plaques on the far wall of the North Gardens, but I have only two to show.
    The first one reads:
    Los Angeles
    Union Passenger Terminal
    1939 - 1989
    Constructed by the Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, and the Union Pacific Railroads.
    Opened May 7, 1939, it was considered to be the most impressive railroad station
    of it's type in the entire west. In it's heydey the terminal covered 52 acres, employed
    1,100 people, served 56 trains per day, and handled 23 million sacks of mail annually.
    Through the portals of this historic edifice have passed the great and near-great of the world.
    Dedicated May 7, 1989
    By Platrix Chapter No.2
    E Clampus Vitus

    The other reads:
    Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal
    50 Years of Service
    to the City of Los Angeles
    1939 - 1989
    Souther Pacific, Santa Fe, and Union Pacific
    Dedicated May 7, 1989

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    Post Office With California Panache

    by tpal Updated Dec 31, 2005

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    United States Post Office Terminal Annex

    This is a building that I hadn't planned to see...but what a pleasant surprise.

    On our way to see the iconic Los Angeles Union Station we were treated by the view of the United States Post Office Terminal Annex building. I knew nothing about it but it was clearly built in a Spanish Mission revival style with what appears to be Moorish detailing...everything out here seems to need multiple descriptions.

    I still know little about the building and what I do know is mostly from the description on an old post card from Kat Postcards:

    "The new $1,700,000 Terminal Post Office adjoining the new Union Station, provides 400,000 square feet of floor space where some 1700 Post Office employees handle all the incoming and outgoing mail for the Metropolitan Los Angeles area"

    The building was designed by architect Gilbert S. Underwood and built in 1938. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

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    Union Station- Decidedly "Moderne"...Definitely LA

    by tpal Updated Dec 31, 2005

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    Union Station
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    So, what happens when you design a building in the California Mission style in the age of Art Deco? You get the Los Angeles Union Station.

    I introduced my Los Angeles page with an image of one of the sign pylons in front of Union Station because, as I say, it "seems to symbolize a city coming of age". As the last great train station built in America, it also presents a decidedly LA irony. Completed in 1939, Union Station quickly entered the World War II era and then almost as quickly, after the war, it entered the era of affordable air travel and more significantly the birth of the Freeway. The resulting drop in train travel almost meant the loss of this marvelous building. Finally, in 1990 the building was restored to its original grandeur.

    I've included several photos which warrant more than a brief caption:

    Intro Photo: The exterior facade designed by John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson. The Parkinson architectural firm was very popular in Los Angeles, designing no fewer than 57 buildings including the LA City Hall and the Coliseum sports stadium.

    Photo 2: The interior features and unlikely mix of faux wood-beam ceilings, travertine marble walls and distinctly California terra cotta floor tile.

    Photo 3: Carol and I couldn't resist taking a break in the massive wood and leather waiting room chairs...a far cry from today's "pack 'em in" tandem seating.

    Photo 4: A feature we found extraordinary was the garden courtyard just off the main waiting room. Designed to provide weary travelers a brief respite, such a extravagant allocation of valuable real-estate would be unlikely today.

    Photo 5: This restaurant is unfortunately not in use. I would have loved to have seen this place in its hey-day. The Harvey House Restaurant was designed by one of America's premier female architects, Mary Colter. Her work for Fred Harvey helped shape southwestern architecture in the first half of the 20th century.

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    More on Union Station

    by malianrob Written Nov 30, 2005

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    My first subway ride. It was great!
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    You might be thinking "what else is there to see at Union Staion?" Well besides the beautiful architecture there that mixes two different styles (Spanish colonial and Art Deco), there is public art. One of my favorites is the "Atrain". Basically what it is, there are twelve vertical slits on the wall near the top of the escalator that leads you to the red line. Stand to the side of the escalator and watch the vertical lines as the trains pass. At first all you will see is flashing lights but if you move your head along with the train, through those vertical lines you will start seeing faces and pictures and words. It is really amazing. Other types of public art would be the sculptures and murals and portraits around the station. Something I found pretty interesting was the "River Bench". It is said that the original China Town was at the site of the Union Station and it was demolised in order to build a terminal to service the trains. Artifacts were found when they were digging up this place and they are presented in a "river bed". These artifacts are fron the 1870's.

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    Starting with Union Station....

    by malianrob Updated Nov 30, 2005

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    The front of Union Station
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    I have been to downtown so many times but i decided to try to see LA with the eyes of a tourist. Karin, a good friend of mine moved to LA from Brasil and she was excited to see downtown, so we drove to Union Station, parked there for $5 and took the metro where ever we could go. Let me start off by saying that there is so much history here and so much to see that we didnt get to see everything so my downtown page will take a few more trips before it is done.
    I was told to start off at Union Station and work my way from there. My first impression when i got inside the building was that it resembled the train station in the movie the Untouchables. When you go inside it feels like you are going back in time. It is enormous and very well maintained. You get the feeling like you are in a cathedral and the floor plan was made like that of a cross. There are beautiful flower gardens where you can relax outside and wait for your train or you can wait inside and sit in these old-fashioned, very confortable chairs with soft light and beautiful color all around you. There are Spanish tiles everywhere , cathedral ceilings, round arches and wood that decorates the walls, ceiling and furniture. You definately get a warm feeling when you are inside. The whole idea when Union Station was built was for people to get off the train and make them believe that they are in paradise. The outside of Union Staion is decorated with Palm trees and rose gardens and does make you feel welcomed. We also purchased an all day pass to ride the metro link where ever we needed to go for $3 that also lets you use the buses down town to get around at no extra cost, just save your ticket.

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  • The Subway

    by rob87 Written Sep 27, 2003

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    L.A. has a lamentable subway system. It runs primarily from one tourist destination to another. But if you're a tourist, hey, all the better. The line begins in North Hollywood, where there isn't much to see, but continues directly to Universal City, whose station is right across the street from Universal City Studios/CityWalk, which is very much worth visiting. The next stop along the route is Hollywood & Highland, home to a recently renovated shopping center and the famed Chinese Theater. The next stop, Hollywood & Vine, is just plain famous. Hollywood & Western is outer-Hollywood, centered in between Armenian and Thai communities. Vermont & Sunset is near a bunch of hospitals, but also offers connections to upbeat Vermont and Hillhurst Avenues. Vermont and Santa Monica is a little sketchy, and not really worth getting off at. WIlshire is in Koreatown, and is the transfer point to trains that continue westward on Wilshire for two more stops, both of which are also in Koreatown. (Koreatown is not a tourist-oriented place, but if you're interested barbeque places abound.) The main line, however, keeps heading towards Downtown, stopping next at Westlake/MacArthur Park. (This is by far the most, and possibly only, dangerous station. Drug deals go on here, though above ground, at most hours.) The next stop, 7th St., is substantially safer, and is within the bounds of Downtown. Here you can transfer to the Blue Line which goes to Long Beach, and the Staples Center along the way. The Red Line, however, maintains an northeastward direction and cross-cuts Downtown, stopping subsequently at Pershing Square (5th St.), where moderate caution is also to be exercised, and the Civic Center (1st St.), before continuing on to its final destination of Union Station. Olvera Street, a historic Mexican district, is across the street.

    Visit MTA's website, metro.net, for more info.

    Ride safely!

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