Real and model trains and train memorabilia, vintage rail cars, live entertainment, station tours, bike rides, a Chuggington Kids Depot, the Amtrak Exhibition Train, featuring more than 40 years of history of America’s Railroad, and more will be part of the Los Angeles Union Station 75th anniversary celebration and Amtrak’s National Train Day festivities, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 3 at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, 800 N. Alameda St.
At 10 a.m. an official opening ceremony will kick off the event that is expected to draw thousands. Activities are planned for Union Station, as well as at cultural sites throughout downtown Los Angeles. Free rides from Union Station to other downtown venues will be sponsored by the Annenberg Foundation, which has partnered with Metro to help build community through public transportation. TAP cards will be distributed at the Annenberg Foundation table in the Union Station East Portal. Metrolink also will offer free round-trip rides between Union Station and Glendale Station to provide the public with an opportunity to explore Glendale.
“We know the Union Station anniversary celebration is going to be a positive event for all of Los Angeles,” said Metro Board Chair and Lakewood City Council member Diane DuBois. “Since it’s free, it will be the perfect opportunity for families and others to spend the day enjoying trains, our historic station and events being sponsored all over downtown Los Angeles and reachable by Metro trains and buses.”
“This is a historic day for Los Angeles. But we also want it to be an educational and fun day. So we invite everyone to join us downtown and, hopefully, take Metro to get here.” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. Leahy noted that the event also will showcase L.A. County’s expanding public transportation and rideshare program through interactive displays.
“Amtrak made a conscious decision to change the date of the National Train Day celebration in Los Angeles so we could underscore our important link between Amtrak and local public transit,” said Amtrak Board Member Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. “Together we are showing how trains matter by creating a more mobile America. The Union Station celebration, in partnership with National Train Day, is a great opportunity to remind the public of that.”
“On May 3, Metrolink is offering free rides between Union Station and the Glendale Metrolink Station,” said Larry McCallon, chair of the Metrolink Board of Directors. We want to make it easier for people to join us for the Union Station celebration by doing what we always do, which is to reduce traffic congestion with outstanding, safe, clean and dependable service.”
Highlights of the May 3 celebration will include:
- The Amtrak Exhibit Train, featuring more than four decades of history of America’s Railroad. Since the train’s inception in 2011, new displays have been added, such as workable signals, interactive virtual sleeping accommodation tours and trivia, with returning favorite displays including the locomotive stand and horns. In addition, it features photos, uniforms, vintage advertising and memorabilia from Amtrak’s beginning in 1971 to today’s modern sleeping cars and high-speed rail service. Exclusive Amtrak merchandise will also be available for purchase.
- Other special trains to tour – trains not usually seen by the general public: model trains; steam engines; carefully restored vintage rail cars and modern Metrolink and Amtrak rail cars, including sleeper cars, lounge cars and dining cars.
- Cultural activities in surrounding venues will be open to the public at Little Tokyo, Grand Park, Mariachi Plaza and Chinatown. Mariachis will perform at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. There will be the food festival A Taste of Little Tokyo in Little Tokyo. Olvera Street will host Cinco de Mayo festivities, which will include music and food. TAP card holders will be eligible for numerous discounts at nearby participating businesses.
- Special activities for children will include the interactive Chuggington Kids Depot presenting characters from the hit children’s TV series; Choo Choo Bob cast members performing railroad-themed music from the Minneapolis-based children’s program; Chinese lion dancers and other live entertainment.
- There will be self-guided architectural tours of Union Station and Metro Art docents will be on hand to answer questions about the station and about artworks in the newer parts of the station.
- The public will catch a glimpse of the only known footage of the 1939 Union Station opening. It will stream on a kiosk near the Information booth on May 3. The Metro Research Library and Archive and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archive, in cooperation with the family of Ward Kimball, have restored the silent 6-minute color film clip that features train engines, vintage cars and spectators from the May 3, 1939 parade. It was shot by legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball, who created numerous classic Disney characters including Jiminy Cricket.
- Live entertainment throughout the day will include 12 performance groups ranging from swing, jazz and other music of the period to Chinese lion dancers.
- William Bradley, author of the brand new book, “Los Angeles Union Station, Tracks to the Future,” and Stephen Gee, author of “Iconic Vision,” about the Parkinson father and son who designed Union Station, will be on hand to sign their books.
- A 75th Anniversary Street Mural Bike Ride will be led by C.I.C.L.E., in cooperation with the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles. Riders will meet at 11 a.m. in the parking lot at the corner of Alameda Street and Cesar Chavez Boulevard. The ride will begin at 11:30 a.m. and return by 1:30 a.m. To RSVP go to metro.net/bikes.
- Just a short subway ride away at the L.A. Public Central Library, the Getty Research Institute is staging a show of original drawings and photographs of Union Station. The show opens this week and will run through Aug. 10.