Glendale, CA (GDL)
The Southern Pacific Railroad built the depot in 1924; its romantic Spanish Colonial Revival style design includes ornate, sculptural decoration at the entryways and elaborate ironwork.
400 West Cerritos Avenue
Glendale Transportation Center
Glendale, CA 91204
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 52,395
- Facility Ownership: City of Glendale
- Parking Lot Ownership: City of Glendale
- Platform Ownership: City of Glendale
- Track Ownership: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority
- Pacific Surfliner
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The Glendale Amtrak station consists of a platform with a shelter adjacent to the historic Spanish Mission Revival depot. The latter was built in 1924 for the Southern Pacific (SP) Railroad by Kenneth MacDonald Jr. and Maurice Couchot to replace an earlier structure from 1883. It features ornate front and rear entrances, each with heavily carved panel doors bracketed by twisted half-columns supporting a curved ornamental wrought-iron balcony—a false second story—all in traditional white-painted terracotta. The single-story stucco-sided building is traditionally rectangular in shape, pierced by large, deep-set and delicately-arched windows protected by original iron grillwork on the outside with a scalloped overhang. Flanking wings of recent construction are roofed in red barrel-tiles. Ornate pierced ironwork supports the Southern Pacific logo over the front door.
Inside, a terra-cotta tiled floor and whitewashed walls continue the Spanish style, the ceiling supported by exposed and decoratively painted wooden beams, with a checkered tile footing around the walls. Traditional double-sided polished wood benches provide indoor seating in the waiting room.
In late 1989 the city of Glendale purchased the depot from Southern Pacific for $3.5 million, and soon thereafter began acquiring surrounding properties via eminent domain with the intent of creating the transportation center of today. Altogether, property purchases since 1991 were about $14.2 million. The $6 million renovation and construction of newer parts of the station was largely paid for with state and federal funds, and included restoring the depot to its original state. On the 9.5-acre area surrounding the station, a 750-space parking lot was built, landscaping and lighting installed, and a loading bay for 10 buses was established. The Glendale Southern Pacific Railroad Depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 2, 1997, and the renovations were completed in 1999. The station was renamed the Glendale Transportation Center.
Shortly after the train station was purchased, consultants to the city estimated the cost of building a transit center at $7 million. However, that figure leaped to $30 million after plans were made for a multilevel parking garage, passenger arcades and an elevated walkway to the rail platform. Thus, the plans were scaled back. At one time, a light rail connection with Bob Hope Airport was hoped for, which would have required new track laid parallel to the Union Pacific (successor to SP) lines; the station can still serve this line should it be built. Several public transportation systems such as Greyhound, Metro, and the Glendale Beeline also use the Glendale Transportation Center as a transfer point or layover.
The city of Glendale fills most of a triangle made up of the Sierra Madre foothills, the Los Angeles River, and the Arroyo Seco. The native Tongva had inhabited this region of woodland, chaparral and grassland for approximately 7,000 years before the San Gabriel Mission was founded to the southeast in 1771. The Tongva, which were enlisted to build and run the mission, became known as the Gabrielinos to the early settlers, as was typical of the day: the natives close to a mission were given its appellation. The Gabrielinos retain that traditional identity to this day.
In 1784, Corporal Jose Maria Verdugo of Spanish Army, a native of Verduro, Baja California, returned to the place he’d seen in while in the San Diego Company and settled with the permission of Governor Pedro Fages. He set up his Rancho San Rafael to support herds of cattle, horses, sheep, and mules; and he also grew watermelon, corn, beans, peppers, and fruit. The main local route to Los Angeles, which passed the southern border of his lands, became known as the Verdugo Road.
In 1871, following the death of the second of Verdugo’s children, his daughter Catalina, and the American courts settled the question of legal ownership between the Verdugo family and 28 other people who laid claim to portions of the Rancho, in what became known locally as the Great Partition. Of the Verdugo residences, only one, built by Teodoro Verdugo in 1860, has survived to become a Glendale landmark, which has been a public city park since 1989.
The Great Partition opened up the area for American settlement, and sections of the Rancho developed separate identities. The central area became Glendale, a name which was chosen for its reference to the valley, and established as a town in 1887. The southwestern portion, where today’s train station lies, was organized into the separate town of Tropico. For many years Tropico was known for its production of barley, nuts, dairy, poultry and fruit, especially strawberries.
Electrified interurban rail came through Glendale in 1904, called the Pacific Electric, and was laid along a strip of land belonging to Leslie Coombs Brand, and with the commerce that this brought to Glendale; the city’s center shifted to what became Brand Boulevard. The growth this sparked allowed the city to become incorporated in 1906; in 1918, the city annexed neighboring Tropico. Brand, who was influential in the city, built a unique home designed as a small replica of the East Indian Pavilion at the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago. The “Brand Castle” was left to the city and became a library and park upon his wife’s death in 1945.
It was hoped that the Southern Pacific Depot’s restoration would spark redevelopment. Glendale has managed to retain enough of its other historical structures, mostly homes, to create three historical districts in 2001-2009.
Glendale has other claims on cultural Americana. The Bob’s Big Boy restaurant chain was started in 1936 by Bob Wian, in partnership with Arnold Peterson, also in Glendale. The inspiration for Big Boy’s name, as well as the model for its mascot, was Richard Woodruff of Glendale. When he was six years old, he walked into the diner Bob’s Pantry as Bob Wian was attempting to name his new hamburger. Wian said, “Hello, Big Boy” to Woodruff, and the name stuck. Baskin-Robbins, a global chain of ice cream parlors was founded by Burt Baskin and Irvine Robbins in 1953 from the merging of their respective ice cream parlors in Glendale.
In 1994, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen formed DreamWorks SKG, an entertainment company known for its many family-oriented films. The company’s animation section is located in the Glendale’s Grand Central Business Park on land formerly occupied by a helicopter landing base on the city’s old air field. The Walt Disney Company also has a large campus located in the Grand Central Business Park that includes the headquarters for its Imagineering division, and also owns what’s left of the city’s one-time Grand Central Airport terminal.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at the Glendale station. ThePacific Surfliner service is primarily financed through funds made available by the State of California, Department of Transportation, and is managed by the LOSSAN Joint Powers Authority.
- 242 Short Term Parking Spaces
- 100 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Platform
- Dedicated Parking
- Metrolink Kiosk
- Wheelchair Lift