downtown los angeles, union station
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Must Do: Tour the Beautifully Restored Union Station in Downtown LA

Considered the last great rail station in the country, Union Station celebrated its 75th anniversary last year and underwent a full restoration

Considered the last great rail station in the country, Union Station celebrated its 75th anniversary last year and underwent a full restoration

If you haven’t been to Union Station lately, you’re totally missing out! The grandest rail station on the west coast just got so much grander. The 76 year old Spanish Revival/Art Deco masterpiece recently underwent a much needed extensive restoration and upgrade as part of Union Station’s short and long-term master plan (that you can read all about on Metro’s official blog The Source). The short-term changes are pretty much completed now, which included not only restoring the station’s amazing architectural features — like the dozen magnificent 3000-pound bronze chandeliers that hang in the main waiting room and grand ticket concourse — but also upgrades like new beautiful signage and wayfinding signs, digital information screens that dramatically improve the transit users’ experience, and even bringing back an old fashioned shoe shine stand. And for Amtrak lovers, a new metropolitan lounge was introduced in late 2013 you have to check out.

In addition, more exciting improvements come in the form of new food concessions like the beautiful new Barista Society coffee bar that brings third wave Blue Bottle and Stumptown coffee to the east wing of the station while a still newish T&Y Bakery (from 3rd/Fairfax Farmers Market) offers fresh yummy pastries located in the historic west wing.

One thing I really hope we can open in Union Station in the future is an official Metro store that sells Metro-branded merchandise, which I think would be popular not only with visitors and tourists, but also Angelenos who are proud of the new urbanizing LA with its growing transportation system. In fact, why not have Union Station-branded products as well?

Without further ado, check out my pictures below for a tour of the beautifully restored Union Station in Downtown LA.

New maps are placed in numerous locations around Union Station

New maps are placed in numerous locations around Union Station

The grand ticket concourse is now fully restored and uncovered and may become a new food hall in the future

The grand ticket concourse is now fully restored and uncovered and may become a new food hall in the future

Since 1997, Traxx Restaurant has been an integral part of Union Station

Since 1997, Traxx Restaurant has been an integral part of Union Station

Union Station celebrated its 75th Anniversary last May 2014

Union Station celebrated its 75th Anniversary last May 2014

The grand waiting room fully restored with new digital info screens for arrivals and departures for Amtrak and Metrolink

The grand waiting room fully restored with new digital info screens for arrivals and departures for Amtrak and Metrolink

New digital info screens improve the customer experience

New digital info screens improve the customer experience

A dozen of these magnificent 3000-pound bronze chandeliers have been fully restored

A dozen of these magnificent 3000-pound bronze chandeliers have been fully restored

This cool vintage schedule board displayed in the grand waiting room

This cool vintage schedule board displayed in the grand waiting room

New food concessions like T&Y Bakery from Farmers Market give transit users an improved experience

New food concessions like T&Y Bakery from Farmers Market give transit users an improved experience

Very cool new vintage inspired signage placed all around the station

Very cool new vintage inspired signage placed all around the station

Love this new shoe shine stand introduced last October 2014

Love this new shoe shine stand introduced last October 2014

More of those very nice looking digital info screens for Amtrak and Metrolink

More of those very nice looking digital info screens for Amtrak and Metrolink

More concessions coming soon

More concessions coming soon

Love the new artwork on display throughout the main pedestrian tunnel

Love the new artwork on display throughout the main pedestrian tunnel

Artwork on both sides of the main pedestrian tunnel

Artwork on both sides of the main pedestrian tunnel

New signage for Metro's Gold Line

New signage for Metro’s Gold Line

A new digital kiosk tower in the east wing provides helpful transit info

A new digital kiosk tower in the east wing provides helpful transit info (I spot an Acne Studios bag :)

New clear signage helps lost travelers

New clear signage helps lost travelers

Richard Wyatt's "City of Dreams/River of History" mural in the east wing

Richard Wyatt’s “City of Dreams/River of History” mural in the east wing

As transit ridership continues to grow, Union Station could see up to 100,000 daily users by 2020

As transit ridership continues to grow, Union Station could see up to 100,000 daily users by 2020

9 Comments

  1. aardvark says

    Awesome! Now they just need to cap the 101 there and get those westward developments started.

  2. thefoxiscunning says

    I wonder if the wayfaring signage and information was prepared by multiple vendors, as there is absolutely no consistency or synergy in the typography or formatting. A sorely missed opportunity to incorporate a local element – even more-so given the number of incredible design agencies located in DTLA.

  3. Jim Shafer says

    I nominate Lance Wyman for the job the next time Metro does a system-wide signage overhaul. He’s done beautiful work for the Mexico City metro system, including easy-to-recognize icons for each of 195 different stations.

  4. John G. says

    Beautiful pictures. Union Station however, needs to be complemented with its surrounding infrastructure as well. It’s still pretty much an island outside its doors.

  5. Special FREE Union Station tours are led by trained Metro Art Docents. The tours cover historic Union Station art, architecture and spaces not generally open to the public, including the old ticket concourse and former Fred Harvey restaurant. Additionally, the tours explore artworks located in the Gold Line Portal, East Portal and inside the Metro Gateway Headquarters Building. Reservations are not required. Meet at the information booth inside the Alameda Street entrance to historic Union Station. For dates and times please visit: http://www.metro.net/art/ and click on “Art Tours’.

  6. shannon says

    i agree the changes that have happened over the past year or so are fantastic yet there are still no updates on the restrooms, which are pathetic, extremely cramped and outdated for the amount of people that flow through the station.

  7. Pingback: In a Car-Obsessed City, Learning to Love Mass Transit | My Blog

  8. Tony Hoover says

    Did you notice that they restored the skylight between the historic station house and the concessions area? It was cleaned (I think it was painted over previously) and now sunlight pours into the transition area between the station house and the gates. It urges you forward to the gates. It’s subtle but really beautiful.

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