Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Union Station, Los Angeles, California

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There is nowhere else on earth where the echo of past voices touch me more than Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Walking into the building can bring me to tears with the memories captured between those walls. This is where my lifelong love of trains began. This is Granny’s station. I didn’t even know it had a real name until I was a teenager.

My grandfather worked as the Stationmaster in Billings, Montana. Every year, my grandmother would visit, riding the train to Los Angeles. We would go to Los Angeles to ride the train to Montana. As I got older, I would take my kids on the train to California locations like Santa Barbara. Family has come in and gone out at the station and I can stand almost anywhere and see them in my memories. Most of them are gone now so it means so much more.  

Union Station is mammoth. When it was built in 1938, it was called the “Last of the Great Railway Stations”. Its grand size adds to its personality and mystique. 
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Union Station has been the scene for many movies. My favorites are:

Them! (1954) – Don’t tell anyone I’m a Sci-Fi fanatic. I loved this movie and believe it or not, sometimes it sounds like the ants are in my neighborhood. It freaks me out every time. 

Silver Streak (1976) – Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, murder on a train trip from Los Angeles to Chicago, what else needs to be said?  

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – The Scarecrow trial courtroom is set in Union Station. I didn’t recognize it and had to go back and watch it again.

Today, Union Station is busier than ever. It serves not only the trains but also Metrolink and the Metro Rail, the newer subways and light rail lines.

However, a visit to Union Station should always be accompanied with a walk across the street to the oldest part of Downtown Los Angeles. Olvera Street is part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. Beside the colorful trinkets they sell, the food is great!  

If you are in the area on the Saturday before Easter, Olvera Street is the location of the Blessing of the Animals. The tradition started in 1930 and it is quite a sight to see.


  1. Ah, Silver Streak. What a classic! Union Station is quite a sight, a great CA sight to be seen!

  2. Very interesting; thanks for telling us about Union Station. I was wondering whether Ukiah was going to be your "U" post! 8-)

  3. A great piece of California's history. I wasn't aware the Dark Knight Rises had a scene there.

  4. Interesting, and what an important piece of history for your family. Didn't even know LA had a train station. I've only experienced the traffic jams!


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