Check it out: the Harvey House menu from 1943

Curious what folks were eating — or could eat — at Union Station's Harvey House restaurant 70 years ago?

Answer: shirred eggs (baked eggs), fish species identified by geography and not species name and deviled egg sandwiches and prune juice. People: when was the last time you saw prune juice on a menu?

For those not in the know, the Harvey House is the old restaurant on the southern side of Union Station. It has been closed since 1967 but is used for TV and film shoots as well as special events. Metro would like to bring it back as a restaurant and needs to find someone willing to run the place; the kitchen needs a lot of work.

For those interested in old menus, the Los Angeles Public Library has an interesting online collection. And if you have never seen Harvey House, below are phots from the 1940s and from today. Not a bad place to have a pot pie, eh?

 


Then & Now: downtown Sierra Madre

Photo by Alan Weeks.

Photo by Alan Weeks.

DSC_2121-2

Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro

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Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro

If you happened to be in downtown Sierra Madre on Friday afternoon and wondered who the idiot was stumbling around in the street juggling an iPad and Nikon DSLR, look no further. The idiot was me.

But I was there to serve a larger purpose: to try to update Alan Week’s 1950 photo of downtown Sierra Madre, which once upon a time had a streetcar and a depot as part of the old Pacific Electric system. The photo was taken shortly before this line was abandoned in Oct. 1950. I took a stab at recapturing the photo both in color and black and white, the second and third photos above.

The line branched off from tracks along Huntington Boulevard and ran along Sierra Madre Boulevard to the penultimate stop in downtown Sierra Madre and then one more at the Mt. Wilson Trailhead on Mira Monte Avenue.

What has changed? The depot is gone but the shortcut with parking between Baldwin Avenue and Sierra Madre Boulevard remains. The building at far left in Alan’s photo remains as the Shirley Hotel but the facade at top has been added. Alan’s photo offers a gimpse of a gas station at right along Sierra Madre Boulevard; there’s still a gas station there, but it’s one of those modern, lacking in character things. The San Gabriel Mountains, thankfully, remain.

And, finally, the tree in my color photo that is just left of the ‘Do Not Enter’ sign may be the same tree shading the old car in Alan’s photo. If I had a DeLorean and some asphalt, perhaps I could go find out.

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Preview of September Metro Service Councils Meetings

After taking the month of August off, Service Councils will resume their normal meeting schedules in September. As usual, a wide range of topics will be covered at the different meetings. Please note that some of the presentations are tentative at the time of this posting.

All Service Council meetings include a report from Metro Service Council Director Jon Hillmer providing previous month’s statistics on ridership, performance and other measures of Metro service. In addition, a recap of the July 29th Meet and Confer session with CEO Art Leahy and representatives from all Service Councils will be provided at each meeting.

In addition, September meeting topics specific to each Service Council include:

San Fernando Valley (6:30 pm, Wednesday, 9/4) – Recognition of San Fernando Valley Service Councilmember Dina Garcia, Report on Line 161 Proposed Changes, Review former Chair’s Recommended Service Reallocations for Proposed Line 588X Creation.

San Gabriel Valley (5 pm, Monday, 9/9) – Receive update on Line 485 Regional meeting, Update on I-710 North Study.

Westside/Central (5 pm, Wednesday, 9/11) – Receive report on Expo Bus/Rail interface – one year later, Update on Expo Line Phase II Construction, Receive Corridor Study Update.

Gateway Cities (2 pm, Thursday, 9/12) –Receive report on Integration of the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station, Update on Florence Avenue Corridor Study, Update on Norwalk Green Line Station Improvements, Discussion on Potential Gateway Cities Service Council Meeting Dates, Times and Locations, Report on July 26 ADA Anniversary Activity at Union Station.

South Bay (9:30 am, Friday, 9/13) Receive Report on Integration of the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station, Receive Report on Harbor Gateway Transit Center Working Group.

For a detailed listing of all Council meeting dates, times and locations, click here. As always, the public is encouraged to attend and share their comments with the Service Councils on improving bus service throughout LA County. If you would like to provide input to a Council but cannot attend a meeting, you can submit your comments in writing through the Service Council web page or send them to service councils@metro.net. If your comments are for a specific Council, please make sure to indicate which one you are addressing in your e-mail.

Then & Now: in L.A. getting rid of streetcars easier than getting rid of billboards

008 - Old - LATL 5 Line Car 1423 Northbound At Prw. & Crenshaw Bl. 19550507 (2)

Looking west from Crenshaw Boulevard, just south of 67th Street. Photo by Alan Weeks, via the Metro Transportation and Library’s Flickr stream. Click above to visit.

008 - New - Metro ROW now

Photo by Metro.

005 - Old - LATL 5 Line Car 1402 Southbound On Crenshaw Bl. At 60th St. 19541215 (2)

Looking north at Crenshaw Boulevard from 60th Street. Photo by Alan Weeks, via the Metro Transportation Library & Archive’s Flickr stream. Click above to visit.

Photo by Metro.

Photo by Metro.

Two observations from this set of past and present photos along Crenshaw Boulevard:

1. It’s a shame that there are so few food outlets remaining that serve both donuts and chili dogs.

2. Those set of three ugly nearly street level billboards in the bottom set of photos: They were there when Alan Weeks took captured his image on Dec. 15, 1954, and they were there last year when Metro staff took the bottom photo. Billboards in L.A.: once there, always there, eh?

Many thanks to Alan Weeks for capturing the two images from the 1950s and Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX Line construction staff for taking the modern photos.

About Alan: He worked for many years as a transit scheduler first with the RTD and later the MTA, now known as Metro. He is retired and very proud of his many years of public service — as he should be. Many of his photos of L.A.’s transit scene can seen on the Metro Transportation Library & Archive’s Flickr page, which as of this morning had 8,915 images and is still growing.

If you’ve enjoyed our Then & Now posts, then you are morally obligated to check out the Metro Library’s Historypin page, a sophistacted mapping tool that allows you to overlay historic photos with current street views. It is, trust me, epically cool. Here’s a Source post from last week explaining Historypin; check out the photo from Crenshaw and 60th on Historypin. Very cool.

Calling all transit and history fans! Hundreds more “Then & Now” historic L.A. transit photos available here!

Broadway at 6th

Broadway at 6th Street, 1938 vs. today (Click for more information)

It’s a beautiful thing when Southern Californians take pride in their fascinating and diverse history.  This past weekend the Metro Transportation Library & Archive logged its 3,000,000th view on our online Flickr photo gallery (yes, three million in less than five years).

Over here at The Source, the reaction to “then and now” photos has prompted the Library & Archive to share its own version of historical images compared to the street scene today.

Our Library has selected and uploaded over 200 photos to Historypin, a social media site that maps images and mashes them up with a chronological data layer so you can view photos of a particular place AND time.  With the local transportation conversation ramping up month by month, we know this is a great way to engage our community in the past AND present.

Most of our images on Historypin and concentrated in and near downtown Los Angeles.

Metro Library on Historypin

Zoom in or click a photo cluster to see more detailed photos

Fortunately for us, most of our photos are of streetcars and buses.  Good thing: Historypin has partnered with Google to leverage powerful mapping tools with “street view” imagery.  This serves us well in providing an “augmented reality” effect — superimposing views of yesteryear on the streets of today. We have taken pains to position many our images onto Street View so they match up as well as possible.

Hollywood Boulevard Christmas decorations

Hollywood Boulevard, decorated for Christmas,1953 compared to today (The “fade” slider is below the historic image)

But Historypin isn’t limited to just our collection. Metro is a leader in helping other local archives and libraries in our LA as Subject network to get their photos digitized and onto Historypin.  Los Angeles Public Library’s collection is particularly interesting, as well as other transit agencies, including the wonderful history shared by San Francisco Muni.

Even better, Historypin images feature a slider at the bottom of the photo allowing you to fade in and out the historical image compared to today’s street scene.

When you find an image in our collection (or any other!) with the little yellow man indicating “Street View,” click “Street View” in the bottom right and then slide the “Fade” button below the centered historical image to see the effect.  Get ready to spend hours getting lost in historic Los Angeles…or elsewhere in the world!

1st & Alameda, 1918

Los Angeles Railway “P” Line, 1st Street at Alameda, 1918 with today’s view 95 years later

Historypin is also available as a mobile app, so you can check out historical views of your location wherever you go!

We were a global launch partner for Historypin when we began in July, 2011. But Historypin isn’t limited to just our collection. Metro is a leader in helping other local archives and libraries in our LA as Subject network to get their photos digitized and onto Historypin.  Los Angeles Public Library’s collection is particularly interesting, as well as other transit agencies, including the wonderful history shared by San Francisco Muni.

Still not sure what it is or how it works?  This video provides an overview of the Historypin concept in just over a minute:

Restyled train car rolls out!

Side view of the new paint and decal styling designed by Metro Creative Services, including “Metro” supergraphics and yellow dot patterns conveying motion and Southern California sunlight. Nighttime and daytime train visibility has been greatly enhanced.

Side view of the new paint and decal styling designed by Metro Creative Services, including “Metro” supergraphics and yellow dot patterns conveying motion and Southern California sunlight. Nighttime and daytime train visibility has been greatly enhanced.

As reported last week, a “mocked up” Metro rail vehicle with new styling and graphics designed by Metro Creative Services is rolling through the Blue and Expo Line this week to test its performance. Car 148 left the Blue Line yard on its maiden voyage this afternoon. Have you seen it?

On display are bold reflective yellow markings and white super-graphics overlaid onto painted cool greys intended to create a safer and more attractive vehicle.

The distinctive styling and graphics have been applied to a Nippon Sharyo P2020 car (used on the Blue and Expo Lines), but are intended for the entire rail fleet. Slight variations and tweaks may occur until the styling is perfected and agreed to by Metro department stakeholders for both operational maintenance and aesthetics.

Learn more and view photos of the designs here.

New light rail car designs in the works

Detail of the new, bright yellow and white reflective markings and paint scheme rail car styling designed by Metro Creative Services.  A test “mock up” was applied to an older car model by Lee Hetherington (right) in Blue Line Fleet Services and his capable team.

Detail of the new, bright yellow and white reflective markings and paint scheme rail car styling designed by Metro Creative Services. A test “mock up” was applied to an older car model by Lee Hetherington (right) in Blue Line Fleet Services and his capable team.

As previously reported, the Metro Board of Directors recently approved purchasing new light rail vehicles from Kinkisharyo International. Metro’s Creative Services group has since been hard at work creating distinctive styling and graphics for the new rail cars as well as the entire rail fleet.

“The forward looking design is intended to capture the vibrant spirit of Los Angeles,” said Jorge Pardo, Director of Art & Design for Creative Services. “We are seeking to transform Metro’s trains into gleaming, contemporary vehicles that express L.A. as a world class urban center. We’re creating a safer train and doing it with a sense of style that the world now expects of L.A.”

The the workhorse Nippon Sharyo P2020 car were the first in Metro’s fleet to receive the bold reflective yellow markings and white super-graphics overlaid onto painted cool grays of the vehicle chassis (these cars are used on the Blue and Expo Lines). A “mocked up” vehicle with the new trimmings will roll out next week and be under close performance assessment. Slight variations and tweaks may occur until the styling is perfected and agreed to by Metro department stakeholders — they want to make sure the cars work both aesthetically and can be maintained.

Full side view with new paint and decal styling, including “Metro” supergraphics and yellow dot patterns conveying motion and Southern California sunlight. Nighttime and daytime train visibility has been greatly enhanced.

Full side view with new paint and decal styling, including “Metro” supergraphics and yellow dot patterns conveying motion and Southern California sunlight. Nighttime and daytime train visibility has been greatly enhanced.

Existing train designs, featured on the Blue and Expo Lines.

Existing train, featured on the Blue and Expo Lines.

Incorporating enhanced safety was a critical objective of the design. Improvements include bright, large scale, reflective white and yellow decaling that make trains more highly visible – particularly at night – and therefore create safer conditions for customers approaching trains and at intersections.

“The increased reflectiveness of the train surfaces is impressive,” said Lee Hetherington, a 16-year veteran Metro Rail Body/Paint Leader in Fleet Services. “These trains are sure to stimulate new ridership. Other transit agencies across the nation will be envious of our bold, fresh looking trains.”

With its new styling, Metro trains will present a cohesive and more visible rolling billboard for the agency county-wide, encouraging discretionary riders and creating a safer and more attractive ride for our customers.

Designs are still being finalized. Stayed tuned for updates in the coming months.

See Fleet Graphics Concept presentation for background:

Metro Rail Vehicle P3010

Related link

Metro Art Moves_DTLA: August 1 art tour

august_tour_post_smMetro continues its new series of free summer art tours, Metro Art Moves_DTLA, on Thursday, August 1. The tours pair local artists with docent guides, who share stories about the artworks and lead activities to heighten tour-goer engagement, demystifying the Metro system along the way.

Meet promptly at 5:30 p.m. at the entrance to the 7th Street/Metro Center Station, at the northeast corner of Figueroa and 7th Street, on the street level. Tour has limited capacity. Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The tours will lead to Grand Park’s Out of Office event, including live music and food trucks.

Want to grab a snack before Metro Art Moves_DTLA, or feeling a little hungry afterward? Show your TAP card and take advantage of special Metro Destination Discounts at locations near the tour route including Qdoba Mexican Grill, Tossed and Boba 7. Those who stick to ending their tour at Grand Park can use their TAP cards, provided on the tour, to score a free pair of sunglasses at the event information booth.

General Information

Tour takes place on the first Thursday of August and September from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Tours begin at 7th Street/Metro Center Station and end at Civic Center/Grand Park Station.

Tours have limited capacity. Reservations are highly recommended. To RSVP, email lej@metro.net.

The tours are approximately 90% walking; there are elevators and escalators in all of the stations.

Public restrooms are available at Union Station and at Grand Park.

Metro Art Moves Tours

Metro Art Moves tours are designed to attract new riders through arts-based transit experiences. The tours highlight Metro’s diverse collection of artworks, heighten the passenger experience in fun and engaging ways to boost public perceptions about transit, promote rider etiquette and offer opportunities for discovery.

Metro Art Program

Metro Art implements the agency’s percent for art program, manages the care and maintenance of the system’s existing artworks and directs a volunteer docent council. From rail and bus stations to construction fences and poetry cards, art creates a sense of place and engages transit riders.

Since 1989, Metro has commissioned artists to incorporate artworks into a wide array of transportation projects throughout Los Angeles County. The agency has received numerous design and artistic excellence awards, and is renowned for its approaches to integrating art into the transit experience, and for engaging artists at all levels of their careers.

Docent-guided tours are offered the first Saturday and Sunday of each month. Tours for groups of 15 or more are also available by special arrangement. For more information visit metro.net/art and click on Art Tours or call (213) 922-4ART.

How do they do that? Unlatch the gates automatically for wheelchair patrons

How do they do that? is a series for The Source that explores the technology that helps keep Metro running and passengers and other commuters moving. Some of it applies directly to the trains, buses and freeways and some of it runs in the background — invisible to nearly everyone but essential to mobility in our region.

Hands-free intercom for wheelchair patrons.

Hands-free intercom for wheelchair patrons.

The subway gates are being latched one station at a time and given that we are an advanced civilization, Los Angeles seems to have survived. (The Red and Purple lines are on schedule for latching completion Aug. 5.) For most of us the gate latching has turned out to be no big deal. We pull out our TAP cards — either plastic TAP or TAP-enabled paper tickets — and we march on through.

But what if we were commuting in a wheelchair?

A new hands-free intercom system developed by Metro for ADA patrons opens the gates automatically upon verbal request by a wheelchair patron or silently, if the patron cannot speak.

How do the subway gates unlatch for customers in wheelchairs?

Attendants on duty 24/7 monitor the wheelchair-accessible gates on closed circuit TV. As passengers in wheelchairs approach the special hands-free intercom (a silver box with a blue wheelchair sign next to it) a round camera above the hands-free intercom transmits the image to attendants standing by to help. Or, if they are able, patrons can press a red button to call for help with the gate. The attendants also are alerted to the presence of a wheelchair by a small sensor posted below on the same column.

The attendant verbally greets the wheelchair patron and, if possible, the patron confirms verbally that assistance is required. If the patron cannot speak, the attendant can see that and respond by triggering the ADA gate to unlatch. When it does, the patron can proceed through the opened gate.

The technology required for this innovation is not unusual or particularly high tech — camera, telephone, speaker, lights and an electrical connection to the gate that facilitates the opening of it remotely. Yet used in partnership in this particular combination, it is a simple but innovative way to make travel a little easier for patrons in wheelchairs.

Metro Gold Line celebrates 10 years of progress

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On Friday, July 26, 2013, the Metro Gold Line will celebrate 10 years of progress. Only 13.7 miles long at its inception, the Gold Line opened to the public on July 26, 2003, carrying riders from Los Angeles Union Station to Pasadena. The line was initially known as the Pasadena Blue Line. It wasn’t until November 2001, a little more than a year after construction began on the line, that the Metro Board changed the name to the Gold Line.

The Gold Line had more than 4 million boardings in its first year and by 2009 there were more than 7 million annual boardings. With the addition of the six-mile Gold Line Eastside Extension, the light rail line currently carries approximately 13 million boardings annually.

Over its 10-year existence, the Gold Line has carried nearly 81 million riders – about equal to the population of Germany! – and exceeded all expectations. Taking that many people out of cars is equivalent to removing 11,335 cars from the road, or eliminating 112,263 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Not too shabby for 10 years of work.

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