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Union Station, Los Angeles, USA

September 22nd, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Union Station in Los Angeles, which opened in May 1939, is known as the "Last of the Great Railway Stations" built in the United States, but even with its massive and ornate waiting room and adjacent ticket concourse, it is considered small in comparison to other union stations. It was formerly designated the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT), but its current owner, Catellus Development, officially changed the name to Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS).

The facility served as a backdrop for the 1950 film Union Station, which starred William Holden and Nancy Olson. Many television shows and motion pictures have incorporated the station as a backdrop, including Speed, Pearl Harbor, Blade Runner, Star Trek: First Contact, and the Fox television series 24.

Union Station is located opposite L.A.'s historic Olvera Street.

Union Station was designed by the father and son team of John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson, who also designed Los Angeles City Hall, and whose firm designed many landmark Los Angeles buildings from the late 19th century onward. The structure combines Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne style, with Moorish architectural details such as eight-pointed stars. Enclosed garden patios are on either side of the waiting room, and passengers exiting the trains were originally directed through the southern garden. The lower part of the interior walls is covered in travertine marble, and the upper part is covered with an early form of acoustical tile. The floor in the large rooms is terra cotta tile with a central strip of inlaid marble (including travertine, somewhat unusual in floors since it is soft). Other parts of the station's flooring are colored tiles with Aztec influences.

Attached to the main building to the south is a small masterpiece, the remarkable station restaurant designed by southwestern architect Mary Colter (the last of the "Harvey House" restaurants to be constructed as a part of a passenger terminal). Although now usually padlocked and stripped of many interior furnishings, the topology of its rounded central counter dynamically thrust forward, its streamlined booths, and the inlaid floor patterns still constitute a busy and evocative sense of place. As with many Angelean locations, it has only survived by serving as an occasional filming location.

The station originally served the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, Southern Pacific Railroad, and Union Pacific Railroad, as well as the Pacific Electric Railway and Los Angeles Railway (LARy). Established on the site of L.A.'s first Chinatown, it saw heavy use during World War II, but later saw declining patronage due to the growing popularity of air travel and automobiles.

Now Union Station is once again heavily visited, especially since the construction of the Metro's Red Line subway station and Gold Line light rail station. Union Station also serves Amtrak and Metrolink passenger trains. The station currently has 10 train tracks, and approximately 80 train departures on weekdays (not counting the Gold and Red Lines). The attached Patsaouras Transit Plaza serves several bus lines including Rapid and regular Metro lines, as well as downtown DASH shuttles.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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