Built during the height of the railroad boom, and during a time when automobiles were yet to fill the streets of Los Angeles, Union Station then and now, is the center of transportation for the City of Angels. Located at 800 N. Alameda Street in Downtown Los Angeles, Union Station was built in 1939 to serve as the city's central means of transportation.
Three of the major railroads in the area contributed to the station's construction, including the Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroads. The station immediately became a hit, helping both movie stars and war veterans find their way to and from Los Angeles. Since there were no major airports leading into or out of Los Angeles at the time, Union Station was the way to go.
For nearly three decades, rail travel was the preferred method of transportation for individuals in Los Angeles, and Union Station thrived. It was in the 1970s though that rail travel began to give way to more "conventional" methods of travel, including travel by car and by plane. The station quickly moved into the background of transportation, despite the formation of Amtrak Railways.
Today, Los Angeles' Union Station has once again become popular with city residents and visitors alike. When city planners made the decision to construct a subway, Union Station was chosen as the terminus of Los Angeles' Metro Rail system. In addition to being the home of Los Angeles' Metro Rail system, Union Station also remains the home of Amtrak, which consistently transports individuals to and from Los Angeles to San Diego and San Francisco.
Like most things in Los Angeles, the city's Union Station continues to expand. Today, visitors and travelers to the station can choose to ride city buses or the city's rail system. A park and ride facility allows for convenient storage of visitor vehicles. The Union Station site also features places to eat, places to shop, and offices for Metro Rail employees.
Since the building of Los Angeles' Union Station, no rail stations of its kind have been built in the United States since. The beautiful fusion of Spanish Mission architecture with a modern Streamline style make Union Station a true city landmark and a favorite site for Hollywood movie directors. Amazing chandeliers hang from the station's ceiling, while beautifully sculpted gardens surround waiting passengers. Movies such as Nick of Time starring Johnny Depp, and Seabiscuit starring Tobey Maguire, both had several scenes filmed at Union Station. Scenes from Speed, Pearl Harbor, and Blade Runner have also been filmed at Union Station.
Union Station's location also makes it a favorite of residents and visitors wishing to make their way to other local Los Angeles sites and landmarks, including Olvera Street, Los Angeles City Hall, the restaurant that gave birth to the French dipped sandwich known as Philippe's, and the San Antonio Winery, all of which are within a short walking distance of Union Station.