The origins of the iconic Los Angeles Union Station are being celebrated on its 75th anniversary with an exhibit sponsored by the Automobile Club of Southern California.
The new exhibition, No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station, organized by the Getty Research Institute and presented at the Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., examines the rigorous and exceptional design process that has helped the station’s distinct aesthetic to endure.
The exhibit is on view May 2 through Aug. 10 and is free and open to the public during library hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
“This exhibition offers compelling insights into how LA’s architects, designers and city leaders looked to the past while shaping the city’s future.” said Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute (GRI). “The library is a fitting and beautiful venue for the exhibition as both buildings are monuments to the early 20th-century dreams of LA’s urban future as well as popular destinations in the city’s 21st century landscape.”
The exhibition features architectural drawings, sketches, and photographs drawn from the GRI’s Union Station archive, on view to the public for the first time. This archive is part of the GRI’s extensive holding in architectural history, especially that of Southern California. They include finely rendered conceptual drawings; sketches of exterior and interior views; detailed drawings of the station’s distinctive architectural elements, and furniture; and landscape drawings. The exhibition also includes historic photographs from the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library and The Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens as well as works from the Auto Club’s historical archives.
Financed and constructed by the Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, and Union Pacific railroads, Union Station centralized passenger rail travel in Los Angeles and provided the primary gateway into the city. Designed by a team of architects with representatives from each of the railroads and consulting architects John and Donald Parkinson, Union Station opened in May 1939. An eclectic blend of Mission Revival, Southwest, Spanish, and Art Deco styles define the station. The architects sought to create an informal architecture expressive of Southern California, specifically with Spanish elements, which was radically different from other union stations throughout the United States.
“Angelenos saw the establishment of a union station as a crucial part of the development of the region from a pueblo on the western frontier to the west coast’s major metropolis,” said Marlyn Musicant, lead curator of the exhibition. “Union Station’s Mission Revival design symbolized Southern California’s infatuation with its Spanish heritage but the designers and architects were able to successfully modernize this historic style with Art Deco and Streamline Modern details that express their vision of a monument connecting the past and the future.”
On select weekends throughout the exhibition, model railroading groups based in Southern California will be running model trains in the Library’s Getty Gallery. A slate of public programs will be offered, including lectures and film screenings. For more information and a schedule of related events the public may visit www.getty.edu/research.