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Los Angeles Union Station Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Los Angeles stationLOS ANGELES—In conjunction with the seventh annual National Train Day, Los Angeles Union Station will mark its 75th anniversary on May 3. A grand celebration, including live music, dozens of exhibitors and a large display of modern and vintage locomotives and rail cars, is being organized by Metro, Metrolink and Amtrak.

National Train Day 2014 highlights the 145th anniversary of the creation of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. On May 10, 1869, in Promontory Summit, Utah Territory, the “golden spike” was driven into the final tie that joined 1,776 miles of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railways, forever transforming America. National Train Day also spotlights the ways in which intercity, commuter and freight railroads positively impact our communities and economy.

Vintage luggage label

A vintage luggage label.

Seventy years after the driving of the golden spike, Los Angeles Union Station opened to the public with a multi-day festival that included a parade and station tours. A formal dedication was held on May 3, 1939, and regular passenger service began four days later.

As the city grew in the early 20th century, the need for one consolidated passenger rail facility became evident. The region’s three major railroads—Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe—therefore joined forces to finance and build Union Station.

Plans were drafted by the famous father and son duo of John and Donald Parkinson, who drew on the region’s rich culture to create an interesting blend of Spanish Colonial and Mission Revival motifs modernized through streamlined Art Deco influences. Marked by colorful tiles, shady arcades, fountains and towering palms, Union Station is the epitome of Southern California glamour.

Interior of Los Angeles station

The interior includes rich marbles, woods and tiles.

Today, Union Station remains a vital transportation hub serving intercity passenger and commuter rail, subway and light rail lines and local and regional bus routes. More than 60,000 travelers, commuters and visitors pass through the building every day.

In fiscal year 2013, more than 1.6 million Amtrak passengers began or ended their journeys at Union Station, making it the fifth busiest station in the Amtrak national network. It is served by the Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle and the Pacific Surfliner. The last is primarily financed and operated in partnership with the California Department of Transportation. In 2013, Amtrak and Caltrans funded the construction of a new Amtrak Metropolitan LoungeSM on the station’s second floor. It is available to Amtrak Sleeping car passengers, Pacific Surfliner business class passengers with same-day tickets and Amtrak Guest Rewards members (Select Plus and Select Executive levels).

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) bought the station and surrounding property in 2011 and is currently overseeing the creation of a master plan to guide future development.

Learn more about the National Train Day/75th Anniversary activities, exhibitors and train equipment display on Metro’s Union Station webpage.