Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

The "C.P. Huntington," California's first locomotive, pulls up in front of the brand-new Union Station during an opening day parade held on May 3, 1939. This photo was published in the May 4, 1939, issue of the Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

A view of Union Station taken from the top of Los Angeles City Hall. This photo was published in the Nov. 7, 1935, issue of the Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

In 1935, engine inspector George M. Rowe, right, and A.J. Barclay, chief construction engineer, center, were in charge of building the new $10-million Union Passenger Terminal for Los Angeles. The structure's first foundations were laid over the ruins of old Chinatown at the foot of Marchessault Street. Different photos were published in the Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 1935, issues of the Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Construction of the new Los Angeles Union Station nears completion as visitors view work in the main concourse. This photo was published in the Feb. 24, 1939, issue of the Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Horton Churchill / Los Angeles Times

A parade celebrates the opening of Union Station. This photo was published in the May 4, 1939, issue of the Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

People in the east wing ticket concourse of Union Station during opening week in 1939.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Gov. Culbert C. Olson speaks at the dedication of Union Station on May 3, 1939.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times

A crowd inside Union Station during opening week. This photo was published in the Aug. 13, 1939, issue of the Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times float appears in Union Station's opening day parade.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

A Santa Fe locomotive during the opening day parade for Union Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

May 3, 1939: Early horse drawn street car in Union Station parade.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

May 3, 1939: Besides historical trains, other forms of transportation was featured in the parade opening Union Station. Here is an ox-drawn carreta used extensively in 1825. This photo was published in the May 4, 1939 Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

The historic Union Pacific train during the opening day parade for Union Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Mr. and Mrs. M.B. Sheets buy the first tickets at Union Station. This photo was published in the May 8, 1939, issue of the Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Horton Churchill / Los Angeles Times

As the world waits for news of the Japanese surrender during World War ll, Sgt. B. A. Kainer takes a nap at Union Station. Kainer, based in Fresno, was waited for a train to Texas to see his wife and baby son. This photo was published in the Aug. 12, 1945, issue of the Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

A Santa Fe diesel passenger locomotive hangs over Aliso Street on Jan. 25, 1948, after it ran off the rails at Union Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Popular star Kim Novak steps off the train at Union Station on July 10, 1956, upon her return to Los Angeles from a trip to the Cannes Film Festival.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Actor Errol Flynn's body returns to Union Station on Oct. 19, 1959. Flynn's double and lifelong friend, Buster Wiles, in hat and tie, follows behind the coffin.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

Art deco signs welcome travelers to the parking lot of Union Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Completed in 1939, Union Station is a combination of architectural influences that make it a historic building.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

A giant archway welcoming travelers to Union Station glows in the evening light.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Signs over the archways guide travelers away from the platforms and back into Union Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

The now abandoned ticket counters provide backdrops for countless movies, television shows and commercials shot in the sun-drenched lobby at Union Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Arches and beams lead the way to the Harvey House restaurant at Union Station in Los Angeles.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Architectural details beckon hungry and thirsty rail passengers to the Traxx Bar in Union Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Arches and chandeliers join together at Union Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Long hallways lead from the main terminal to the rail platforms at Union Station.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Rays of light dapple the floors with geometric patterns in the East Portal of Union Station as travelers dash to their trains.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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Union Station at 75

This Saturday, May 3, Los Angeles’ Union Station celebrates its 75th anniversary. Back on May 3, 1939, an estimated 500,000 people attended the Union Station dedication and parade.

In a May 4, 1939, front-page story, Los Angeles Times columnist Ed Ainsworth reported on the Union Station activities:

Everybody but Casey Jones was down at the new depot yesterday.

And Casey was dead!

It was just like the 5 o’clock flyer highballing through “on time.” Nobody was surprised. But, boy, wasn’t she a beauty!

After all, it wasn’t exactly an $11,000,000 Union Station with a highfaluting name that Los Angeles was dedicating. It was folks from 10,000 little towns all going down to their own little depots in Memory Town to listen to the whistle toot and to hear that great big bell.

Of course they had scads of railroad presidents cluttering up the place. They had millionaires and fellows with private railroad cars. They had Governors and Mayors and brass hats in droves.

Yet it was really just the people of America–from all the 48 States–who really drove the spike that nailed down a chunk of history on Alameda St. yesterday noon.

Nobody really could have been expected to be surprised. The rumor had got around that there was a big new palace of transportation down there by the old Los Angeles River just waiting to be dedicated.

But, surprise or no surprise, 500,000 persons more or less jammed and pushed and fought along Alameda St. for many many blocks to see a dream come right before their eyes.

They knew the Southern Pacific, the Santa Fe and the Union Pacific railroads had united and built that handsome Spanish structure with the tower and the olive trees and the padded seats and the loudspeaker system and all the rest. They knew it was going to introduce the world to Los Angeles and the Old Plaza. But they still wanted to be there to see it happen. They wanted to see the past come boiling up like the smoke out of the funnel stacks of the old wood-burning engines.

And to see it they hung in trees. They swarmed on ancient red brick cornices that had resounded with cheers for Civil War heroes and Presidents. They climbed on one another’s toes and swung from poles…

The opening was a major success. The above photo gallery includes images from the construction, dedication and parade. Also included are later images from the 1940s and ’50s of Union Station.

For more, check out this Nov. 22, 2013, Postcards from the West online story: Union Station Bustles with film plots.  Travel writer Christopher Reynolds and staff photographer Mark Boster produced this excellent piece. In addition, in 2013, Boster completed an architectural series of 10 black and white images shot on film – included in the above gallery.

For more on this Saturday’s celebration, visit Metro’s website.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

Follow Scott Harrison on Twitter and Google+

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2 Comments

  1. May 3, 2014, 3:58 am

    One of my favourite stations in the USA. Great leather armchairs on which we slept one night many years ago to save money on hotels. Happy birthday — David James, Paris

    By: David. James@afp.com
  2. May 5, 2014, 12:36 pm

    My grandfather, Earl Stanley Haines, had the barber shop located in the train station when it first opened. I remember being able to travel from the central valley as a little girl along with my sister to the train station. We met him there and then traveled for a visit at their home. We even traveled alone in those days! I am 72 now but the memories are like they were just yesterday! well, almost! I visited there 3 years ago. His barber shop is now an indented wall sealed with tiles. I could feel his presence tho!

    By: saunders2930@aol.com

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