…adapted from a blog entry written on July 1, 2011.
I woke early this chill February morning. My bag is packed for the day, and I was eager to get going. My husband kindly drove me down to the San Diego Santa Fe station in the dark predawn hours. Within minutes I have found my seat in the Business Class car knowing I will see the ocean out my window as the sun rises. I’m heading to up to LA on the train to see a friend. It’s always my favorite way of traveling. While I am there, I will be visiting the restored LA Union Station. It waits shining but not at all resting in the warm sunshine of Los Angeles.
The Wikipedia Union Station entry says this about the building: “Union Station was partially designed by the father and son team of John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinsons…..assisted by a group of supporting architects, including the famous Jan van der Linden. ….their firm designed many landmark Los Angeles buildings from the late 19th century onward. Th(is) structure combines Dutch Colonial Revival Style architecture (the suggestion of the Dutch born Jan von der Linden), Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne style, with architectural details such as eight-pointed stars.”
The voters approved replacing old Chinatown with a station that would serve all the existing railroads plus the red line trolleys that came into Los Angeles.
Built in a T shape linked by Spanish style colonnades, the long main waiting room is flanked by gardens. Both the original ticketing area to the left and the Fred Harvey Restaurant to the right are now empty used only for filming and bypassed by modern spaces further into the building.
After being a hub of transportation during WWII, slowly the station fell into disuse as the airplane took over as the only way to travel. A major developer took over the station in the 1980’s and 51 acres of the surrounding land, and by 1992 the restoration of the building was finished.
In the fifties, you would stop for lunch at the Harvey House, now restored but empty, Leave your baggage with the red cap, and check the board to see if your train was on time and ready to go.
Down the tunnel you walk, the red caps following with your bags. Turning left, you go up the ramp to the long train sheds and your waiting train. Today the deep rumble of the diesels has overtaken the drama of steam. Still the excitement is there. That sense of adventure as you are welcomed to your car. The race to find just the right seat on just the right side of the train is still there. All Aboard.