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Party like it's 1939: L.A.'s Union Station, turning 75, plans fun

April 24, 2014|By Christopher Reynolds
  • Special events at a May 3 celebration of Union Station's 75th anniversary will include architectural tours and live music. Pictured: In March, art docents Alex Amerri, left, and Emily Golan led an art tour of the station.
Special events at a May 3 celebration of Union Station's 75th anniversary… (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)

Los Angeles Metro officials are throwing Union Station a 75th birthday party on Saturday, May 3, and the public is invited.  

Special events, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., include model train displays from Orange County N’gineers, tours of custom rail cars, architectural tours, children’s activities connected with the kids’ TV show “Chuggington” and a daylong program of live music that includes Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles (an all-female ensemble), the Mudbug Brass Band and several groups specializing in jazz, nostalgic pop and American roots music. 

The train station, which opened in May 1939, is often called the last of the grand American train stations, and its bold combination of Mission Revival and Steamline Moderne styles has made it a landmark since the day it was completed.

As cars and planes soon reduced the public’s reliance on rail service, the station suffered a long descent into near-idleness, but it has grown much busier in the last 20 years, emerging as a hub for local and regional rail transit. An estimated 60,000 commuters and travelers pass through daily, a figure that’s been steadily rising.

The L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (a.k.a. Metro), which bought the station in early 2011, plans to add retail and restaurant space to the site in coming years, and the Metro board is expected to vote on a proposed master plan in fall 2014.

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