By Rick Morgan, Dana Point
I’d like to take an opportunity to express my gratitude, on behalf of my wife Tracy and myself, to Joel Bishop, former Dana Point councilman and mayor, as well as Mike Leahy, DP Historical Society member and formerly in management with RTD/Metro and the TCA, for arranging the most fabulous personal VIP tour of Los Angeles’ Union Station and adjacent transportation facilities on Saturday, Nov. 15.
This tour was achieved with the cooperation of Historical Society President Barbara Johannes, and the tour itself was conducted by Kenneth E. Pratt, director of Union Station Property Management in LA.
The group of about 30 left the station at San Juan Capistrano at 8:45 a.m. aboard a Metro link train and, upon arrival in Los Angeles, spent the next couple of hours under the guidance of Ken and Mike—who have been best friends since childhood—getting a complete and entertaining behind-the-scenes tour of this beautiful, 75-year-old structure. The tour included the historic ticket hall, waiting room and a bar that served thousands of American servicemen (including my father, Grey Morgan) during World War II, as well as the more modern Metro Transportation HQ and Transit Plaza across the tracks to the east.
The restoration of the station, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980, has been nothing short of amazing under the guidance of Pratt, with further renovation of little-seen sections ongoing.
In addition to serving ever-expanding rail and bus service, portions of the station have served as location shoots in numerous films over the years, including Chinatown, Blade Runner and Silver Streak.
Union Station was built in 1939 over the original Chinatown, southeast of City Hall in downtown Los Angeles. One amazing factoid about the Spanish Colonial Revival and Mission Moderne architecture is that, even by today’s standards, it exceeds the most stringent California earthquake regulations. (The main beams in the waiting room and ticket hall, while wood in appearance, are actually steel beams overlaid with wood.)
There is so much more to learn about this wonderful landmark, but I would encourage anyone who is interested to make reservations for your own tour via Union Station at www.metro.net/about/union-station.
Again, our thanks to Ken, Mike, Joel and Barbara for a very memorable day.