In the dead of the night, Union Station a popular location for music videos

This is the sixth in a series of posts on the history of Union Station that we are running this month. The station celebrates its 75th anniversary on May 3. 

Just as the movies, television and commercials frequently shoot in Union Station, the music industry often uses the building as a location for music videos. Most are shot in the wee hours of the morning so that patrons are not bothered by the lights, cameras, electrical cords and occasional redecoration.

More recently, Union Station played a starring role in Pharrell Williams’ music video for “Happy” — in particular the 24-hour version of the song from which these stills were taken:

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Above, the Fred Harvey Restaurant is a great venue for Fiona Apple and her entourage, although it’s hard to say which is more engaging: the music, the room or the children.

Below, the Brian Setzer Orchestra swings and the Fred Harvey room looks like a ’40s dance club.

Here, Union Station is a beautiful backdrop to a love story by Lifehouse.

You have to stay vigilant to see it but the Ticket Room is just visible in “Wings of a Butterfly” by the Finnish band HIM. This video was Number 1 on the Rock Countdown on MTV2. No doubt, it was the setting.

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Our first podcast: filming over the years at Union Station

New Metro photographic artwork on display

Metro is excited to announce the latest installment of its acclaimed Metro Art Photo Lightbox series. In addition to the often large-scale and permanent work that Metro brings to stations throughout Los Angeles County, the art program also presents mini photography exhibitions by artists in select Red and Purple Line stations.

Photo lightboxes on display in one of the Red Line stations. The series is intended to contribute something visually engaging for customers and enhance the overall experience of taking transit.

Photo lightboxes on display in one of the Red Line stations. The series is intended to contribute something visually engaging for customers and enhance the overall experience of taking transit.

The latest installment will be on view through 2016 and consists of work by five well-known artists: Star Montana, Gary Leonard, Mitchell Debrowner, Harry Gamboa, Jr., and Diane Meyer.

The artists and descriptions of their work are listed below by Metro station location. Each photography display remains on view in a given station for several months at a time then rotates until all five artists have displayed at all five locations.

Don’t want to wait? Create your own self-initiated art tour! Make your way south on the Red Line from Universal City, through Hollywood (Hollywood/Highland and Vermont/Beverly Stations) and downtown L.A. (7th/Metro Center), then loop west to Wilshire/Normandie Station in Koreatown.

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Our first podcast: filming over the years at Union Station

A scene from the "The Dark Knight Rises" that was filmed in the old ticket room  at Union Station. Credit: Warner Bros.

A scene from the “The Dark Knight Rises” that was filmed in the old ticket room at Union Station. Credit: Warner Bros.

Good morning, readers and listeners! Above please find our first Metro podcast. The subject: filming at Los Angeles Union Station over the decades, a subject that Kim tackled earlier this week as part of her ongoing series of posts on Union Station’s 75th anniversary.

We’re new to the podcast thing and it’s going to take a few of these to completely find our footing in the audio world. If we sound like podcast rookies, well, we are. Please bear with us!

That said, I’m really excited about this. It’s great to post articles on the blog, but I think it’s also important for our riders and taxpayers to literally hear the voice of their government. I hope you enjoy our initial offering and we should have more podcasts soon.

 

Union Station: A classic on both big screen and small

This is the fifth of a series of posts on the history of Union Station that we are running this month. The station celebrates its 75th anniversary on May 3. 

With its dramatic angles and dark corners, Union Station is a black-and-white noir fantasy. Yet like a character actor who is aging well, the building has played many types of roles over the past 75 years in hundreds of films, TV shows and commercials.

If you were watching TV during the December holidays you probably caught the Mercedes Benz commercial posted above. Shot in the beautiful Union Station Ticket Room, it’s decked out as Santa’s garage and it looks stellar. And the cars? Amazing!

A few months ago in the TV series “Agents of SHIELD,” hacker Skye (Why does everyone think she’s so hot?) is kidnapped and taken to Union Station so her abductor can escape by train. (Go to minute 35.) She emails SHIELD her longitude and latitude, although she probably could have just said she was at Union Station. No matter. The agents catch up with her in the gorgeous Ticket Room and finally all advance to the East Portal where the SHIELD crew rescues Skye so she can live to hack and be hot again.

In Paramount’s beautiful 1950 noir film “Union Station,” starring William Holden, the station doubles as Chicago Union Station. It does not look much like its Chicago namesake but it does look incredible. And it’s amusing to see a few amenities that no longer exist, like phone booths and a luggage check room in the main concourse. No more phone booths, of course, and no more baggage checking in these days of increased security. You’ll love the trailer:

All areas of Union Station have been backdrops for films but the massive Ticket Room has played significant parts in dozens. In Ridley Scott’s sci-fi thriller “Blade Runner,” set in 2019, the Ticket Room is a police station and Harrison Ford looks like Indy. “Pearl Harbor” contains a romantic farewell in the Ticket Room. In the latest Batman adventure, “The Dark Knight Rises,” the Ticket Room is site of the kangaroo court overseen by Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka the Scarecrow:

What will future roles be for this versatile performer? Stay tuned. The station is also frequently used for music videos — the subject of our next post.

For more Union Station films credits check metro.net (yes, we know the list needs updating!). For Union Station booking guidelines, click here. For more information on booking the station as a shooting location, please contact Jeff Cooper at Hollywood Locations jcooper@hollywoodlocations.com.

RELATED:

Metro Motion celebrates beautiful Union Station’s 75th anniversary

Union Station: a grand opening

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Union Station: A man worthy of respect

This is the fourth of a series of posts on the history of Union Station that we are running this month. The station celebrates its 75th anniversary on May 3. 

Amtrak conductor Irv Hirsch

Amtrak conductor Irv Hirsch. Photo by Kim Upton/Metro

He’s an Amtrak conductor based at Union Station and has been since 1974. But among his fondest memories is his time as a porter on the trains between L.A. and Chicago.

“I still have my old card that says I’m a member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Sleeping Car Porters – the historic Black union,” he recalled. “If you were a Pullman sleeping car porter you were a man worthy of respect.”

As a porter, Irv Hirsch was in charge of one car. Each cubicle was a seating room during the day. It was converted by the porters to sleeping berths at night. A porter in those days was bellman, maid, upstairs waiter and concierge to the travelers in his car, in Hirsch’s case, on the Amtrak Southwest Chief’s 43-hour trip between Los Angeles and Chicago. The African American porters were men of distinction, Hirsch said, who would have thrived in any career. They were proud of their positions and he was proud to be among the few white porters at the time.

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Metro Celebrates LA ArtsDay and National Poetry Month

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The words of a great poet can transfix the reader. A poem placed in the line of vision of a bus passenger can be a gift; a brief escape from or a complement to the day. For the past 16 years Metro bus riders have enjoyed over 100 poems placed directly in their path in the interiors of Metro buses through Poetry in Motion/LA™.

Poetry in Motion/LA™ is a collaboration of the Poetry Society of America and Metro. Every three months a new poem is selected and mounted on colorful placards in empty advertising space on 2,500 Metro buses to be enjoyed by over one million riders daily. Poems are selected by the Poetry Society of America, which chooses recognized works that are relatively short, upbeat and representative of the demographic diversity of the Los Angeles area. Several of the poems are in Spanish.

Among poets whose works are represented in the program are e.e. cummings, Octavio Paz, and Langston Hughes as well as noted Southern California poets Chungmi Kim, Quincy Troupe, and Michelle Serros. Continue reading

Union Station: Here’s how Harvey House restaurants helped change the West

This is the third of a series of posts on the history of Union Station that we are running this month. The station celebrates its 75th anniversary on May 3. 

When English immigrant Fred Harvey opened the first of more than 80 restaurants serving rail stops from the Midwest to California, he could not have imagined the contribution he was making to a social movement that would outlive the restaurants themselves. Nor could he have understood how those restaurants would influence the character of the West.

But Harvey waitresses — made famous by the 1946 Judy Garland movie “The Harvey Girls” — contributed more than labor to what some call the first restaurant chain in America. They helped gentrify the West and took part in a movement of young women away from the home and into self-sufficient employment.

“The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound” — a terrific documentary by L.A. filmmaker Katrina Parks — tells the story of the women who worked as wait staff for Harvey House restaurants, including the one at Union Station, beginning in the 1870s.

Unlike other diners near rail, Harvey House restaurants were clean and sold good, reasonably priced food on table linen and china. For 75 cents (in a 1943 menu) customers could dine on broiled fish almandine, potatoes O’Brien and Hawaiian slaw. A slice of apple pie was 15 cents. And the restaurants guaranteed that patrons would complete their meals before their trains — often loading up on water and passengers — were scheduled to depart.

The restored Harvey House restaurant in Kansas City's Union Station. Photo by Kevin C., via Flickr creative commons.

The restored Harvey House restaurant in Kansas City’s Union Station. Photo by Kevin C., via Flickr creative commons.

At first, the Harvey company hired men to serve as waiters, since women were in short supply in the West. But the men — both customers and waiters — could be rowdy. So Harvey began advertising in Eastern and Midwest newspapers, offering employment to clean-cut, well-mannered and attractive women between 18 and 30. The pay was $17.50 a month plus tips. Room and board were free. The Harvey Girls wore distinctive black-and-white uniforms, worked long hours and had to abide by strict rules, including curfews. But for many, it was the first taste of freedom and freedom can be delicious, as the above clip suggests.

For more information about the Harvey Girls, visit the Harvey Girl Historical Society at the Orange Empire Railroad Museum in Perris, Calif. Or watch the Katrina Parks video. The old Harvey House restaurant space at Union Station is currently vacant, but frequently used for special events and filming. Metro, the owner of Union Station, hopes to one day see another restaurant occupy the space although considerable and expensive work will be needed to rebuild the kitchen.

A recent view of the Harvey House restaurant. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

A recent view of the Harvey House restaurant. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

RELATED:

Metro Motion celebrates beautiful Union Station’s 75th anniversary

Union Station’s 75th: Seymour Rosen celebrates the opening

Union Station: a grand opening