Train Stations

Los Angeles Central Station Southern Pacific DepotVisitors coming to Los Angeles by train in 1926 would not have arrived at the beautiful Mission Revival/Art Deco Union Station in use today- it was still only a gleam in the City Council’s eye. Instead, depending on which railroad line you were on, you’d have pulled in to one of two downtown stations.

If you came by the Southern Pacific or Union Pacific railroad, you’d arrive here, at the Southern Pacific’s Central Depot on Central Avenue & Fifth Street. Because it also served UP trains, it was sometime referred to as “the union station.” Built in 1915 in the classical Beaux Arts style, it resembles- on a smaller scale- SP’s stations in other cities across the country such as Chicago and Kansas City.

Los Angeles Southern Pacific Central Depot

Southern Pacific Depot c. 1926. California Historical Society Collection.

Los Angeles Southern Pacific Central Depot

The waiting room of the 1915 station where many scenes of partings and reunions would take place during World War I shortly after the building opened.

Los Angeles Southern Pacific Arcade Depot

The 1915 station replaced this 1889 structure, SP’s earlier Arcade Depot at the same location.

If, on the other hand, you came in by a Santa Fe Railroad train, you’d have arrived at La Grande Station, located on Santa Fe Avenue & First Street. Built in 1893, it was a picturesque red sandstone Moorish fantasy.

Los Angeles Santa Fe La Grande Station

Santa Fe train station le grande depot los angeles

Le Grande station in the 1920s. Damage sustained in the 1933 earthquake would result in removal of its onion dome. The depot was razed in 1946. LAPL collection.

The construction of a true union terminal was approved in 1926, but it would be another 13 years before Union Station finally opened, rendering Central Station and Le Grande Station obsolete.

Los Angeles Union Station