Sample Essays on History of Union Station

History of Union Station


Union Station

Los Angeles Union Station is a major railway being the largest railroad passenger terminal in the entire Western United States. Union Station began its operations in 1939. Union Station is a well-known tourist attraction in Downtown Los Angeles. In 1980, it was listed in the United State National Register of Historic Places. The blend of Spanish colonial culture and Art Deco architectural style of the train station that up to now isan important transport hub, and a popular movie shooting base having appeared in dozens of classic films such as “The Hustler” and “impunity. ” The station rows of towering palm trees, beautiful, care of this legendary classic architecture, and white bell tower like a reminder of the history of Los Angeles, worked as a Spanish colony (Klein, 44). The station’s Hall most distinctive feature is a separate leather sofas, luxurious interiors, and high ceilings and painted wood inlay colored marble floors, which are creating a sense of extending classical atmosphere and space. On both sides of the main waiting room also have a patio garden, do not have a style.

In 1926, a bill was poroposed providing Los Angeles voters a choice between the const of a vast network of elevated railways or the construction of a much smaller Union Station to consolidate different railroad terminals. The election would take on racial connotations and become a defining moment in the development of Los Angeles. It was approved in a controversial election in 1926 1st built in the 1930s. The Union Station Served as a consolidator of rail services of various railroads such as the Santa Fe, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific. It ultimately became the final Great Railway Station constructed in the United States basing a reason for entering on the National Register of Historic Places (“Union Station | History”).

Currently, the Union Station is a transportation center for Southern California, serving a capacity of around 110,000 passengers daily. The Station is the base a departure and destination center of three of Amtrak’s trains servicing long distance journeys. Besides, it hosts many Metro Rail subway and Metrolink commuter trains. The station is further served by several light rail lines that serve it. Towards the East of the station is Patsaouras Transit Plaza, a bus station that serves several bus lines under municipal carriers and Metro. It’s the center of Los Angeles business as it provides the network through which goods and services are transported.


This research paper expresses the history of Union Station by considering three theses in three aspects namely; Architecture, Location, and Services. First, Union Station was partially designed by John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson, who had also designed Los Angeles City Hall and other landmark Los Angeles buildings. They were assisted by a group of supporting architects, including Jan van der Linden. Second, Union Station is located in the northeastern corner of Downtown Los Angeles, on the property bounded by Alameda Street, Cesar Chavez Avenue, Vignes Street, and the Hollywood Freeway. Last, Union Station is served by Amtrak which the national rail company and Metrolink which the regional rail company; moreover, it is a number of public transit lines which are light rail and metro rail (Klein, 44).


The Union Station contains a blend of Spanish colonial culture and Art Deco architectural style train station. It was designed by John Parkinson in collaboration with Donald Parkinson who designed most structures in Los Angeles including the Los Angeles City Hall.Jan van der Linden also contributed to the designing of the union station. The structure of Union Station is a complex in such a way that it the integration of several styles. It combines Art Deco, Streamline Moderne and Mission Revival style (Musicant, Deverell, Roth, and Musicant 78). The combination of this styles gives the union a unique look that attracts many tourists. The structure also contains various architectural elements such as those of Dutch Colonial Revival architecture and eight-pointed stars that contributes to its uniqueness. The external outlook of the station is also unique as the structures are designed in various architectural designs and spaced in a strategic manner (Ulin, 56).

The Union Station’s waiting room contains enclosed garden patios on its either sides. Initially, the southern garden was used by passengers leaving the trains. The interior walls are designed in a manner that it looks divided into two parts. The upper parts contain an early form of an acoustical title while the lower parts are made of travertine marble. The division of the walls gives the interior design a good look. The station’s floor is uniquely designed being terra cotta having a central strip of marble. The floor’s design is of its own as it is unusual for most floors to contain marble and travertine as they are soft. The waiting room’s ceiling is made of steel with an appearance of wood. In other words, the interior design of the structure is strategically designed and made with durable materials (“Union Station (Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal) | Los Angeles Conservancy”).

Next to the main building towards the south is a Union Station’s restaurant that was designed by Mary Colter, a southwestern architect. The architect did a good job in designing the restaurant as it is strategically made with a counter at its center. It is believed that the building was the final among the “Harvey House” restaurants to be included in a passenger terminal design. The restaurant is closed with most of its interior furnishings stripped. However, it stands tall with a rectangular shape with a circular counter at the center and streamlined booths. The specular internal tile floor depicts a Navajo blanket pattern. Besides, there is also a Streamliner Moderne cocktail lounge that is closed and was designed by the southwestern architect. The union’s original concourse contain a 34m counter and a 19m high ceiling. Like most structures in the union station, it is closed and rented for special events and filming (Alexander 59).

Considering the Union Station’s architecture design, the station is designed in a manner that will ever remind individuals of the Spanish colonial culture and Art Deco architectural style that highly diversified in the Northern America. It’s the architectural design of the Union Station that attracts most tourists to Los Angeles. Therefore, it is evident that the Union Station contributes positively to the development of California State (Mungen, n.d).

The station’s proposal indicated that the station was to be located at the center of Los Angeles’ Chinatown. It was opposed by some individuals arguing that it was not to be built in the midst of a town thereby leading to voting for approval. After the voting, the station was set to be built across the street emanating from Los Angeles Plaza in Chinatown. It’s the efforts of Harry Chandler, a Los Angeles Times Publisher, and Christine Sterling, a preservationist that changed the station’s location thereby preserving the Los Angeles Plaza neighborhood (“Los Angeles Union Station”).

The Union Station is located in the northern parts of Downtown Los Angeles. The station is bounded by four streets namely; Alameda Street, Vignes Street, Cesar Chavez Avenue, and the Hollywood Freeway. The Station is located across Alameda Street upon accessing it from El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historical Park and Los Angeles’ Olvera Street. The Terminal Annex building is located on the opposite side of Chavez Avenue Underpass. The Station’s site is a few meters from Civic Center and Chinatown.

Patsaouras Transit Plaza is to the east side of the Union Stations. The Plaza serves several linking bus lines such as Metro Express lines, Metro local, Metro Rapid, and many municipal bus lines. Moreover, FlyAway express bus services and several shuttles are attached to Patsaouras Transit Plaza. The Transit Plaza’s name is obtained from Nick Patsaouras, who is a former RTD member as well as public transport advocate (“Los Angeles Union Station”).

The Gateway Transit Center encompasses the station, Patsaouras Transit Plaza, El Monte Busway western terminus, and the Metro building that serves as their headquarters. These components are strategically built in terms of location in the sense that they allow easy movement of people and goods. For instance, Patsaouras Transit Plaza is located a few meters from the station terminal to link up rail and roads. Passengers easily access the station through the bus lines provided. Just like its architectural design, the location of Union Nation highly boosts its relevance as a tourist attraction center.

Works Cited

Alexander, Christopher J. Julius Shulman’s Los Angeles. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute and J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011. Print.

Klein, Norman. The History of Forgetting – Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory. New

Youk: Verso, 1997. Print

“Los Angeles Union Station.” N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

Mungen, Donna. “LOS ANGELES TIMES INTERVIEW: Sam Jaffe Looking Back at

Hollywood by One Present at the Creation.” Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext):

  1. Mar 19, 1995. ProQuest. Web. 2 Apr. 2016.

Musicant, Marlyn, William Deverell, Matthew W. Roth, and Marlyn Musicant. Los Angeles Union Station. N.p., 2014. Print.

“Timeline.” Union Station. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

Ulin, David. Writing Los Angeles A Literary Anthology. New York: Literary Classics of the

The United States, 2002. Print.

“Union Station (Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal) | Los Angeles Conservancy.” Los Angeles Conservancy | Preserving & Revitalizing Greater Los Angeles’ Architectural Heritage. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

“Union Station | History.” LA Metro Home | Getting Started. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.

Union Station: 75 Years in the Heart of La: a Series of Essays. Los Angeles: Metro, 2014. Print.