On the occasion of Union Station’s 75th anniversary, Metro created a special commemorative publication, Union Station: 75 Years in the Heart of LA, featuring eight written and five photographic essays that celebrate the station by authors John C. Arroyo, William D. Estrada, Stephen Fried, Rafer Guzman, David Kipen, Marisela Norte, D. J. Waldie, and Alissa Walker. The book is on sale now at the online Metro Store. All essays will also be posted on The Source in the coming weeks. The series was edited by Linda Theung, an editor and writer based in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Union Station: A Portal Through Time
by William Estrada
The arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1876 ended Los Angeles’ long isolation from the rest of the country, if not the world. Since then, other gateways to the city, including the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Los Angeles International Airport, U.S. Routes 101 and 66, U.S. Interstates 5 and 10, and, of course, Union Station, have connected Los Angeles to the nation and defined its role in the global economic and cultural marketplace. But more than a transportation hub, the Union Station site has been witness to the unfolding chapters in the city’s history. They are stories that are worth remembering, especially as the station looks back on its own history and with an eye to the future.
Native American Homeland
The Union Station site is located in the oldest and most historic section of the city, adjacent to the Old Plaza and the Los Angeles River. It is also within close proximity to the site of the ancient Tongva/Gabrieleño Native American village, which informed Governor Felipe de Neve’s decision to locate the pueblo in 1781. The site was traversed by the first people of Los Angeles for food gathering and access to the river. Native Americans later worked in the adobes, horse stables, orchards, and vineyards of the pueblo residents who occupied the area.(i)