Visitors 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.
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.
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.
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