Union Station - Los Angeles

UnionStation_feature_CharlesBirnbaum_2011.jpg
Los Angeles, CA
United States
Union Station - Los Angeles

Landscape Information

Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal

Begun in 1933 and completed in 1939, this train station is considered the last large passenger terminal built in the U.S. and one of the only major stations in which landscaping was an integral part of its site design. Located downtown, large swathes of the city’s original Chinatown were demolished to build the 52-acre station and surrounding landscape.

Designed by architects from each of the three passenger train companies in consultation with architects Parkinson and Parkinson, the edifice blends Spanish Mission Revival and Streamline Moderne styles. The complex is buttressed by Art Deco-style retaining walls and a large berm on the east end. Landscape architect Tommy Tomson interwove outdoor spaces into the design of the main terminal in the form of regionally-inspired, Spanish-style courtyards, patios and arcades. Approaching the station, visitors pass through parallel rows of towering palms and low, white-painted raised planting beds with flowering shrubs. The vaulted waiting room is flanked by enclosed patios with geometric and symmetrically-arranged gardens traversed by patterned red-brick walks. The North Patio features a colorful tiled fountain and benches shaded by jacarandas. Passengers exiting the terminal pass through the South Patio, originally planted with Mexican fan palms, espaliered magnolia, California pepper trees, trumpetvine, and olive trees.

The station was rehabilitated in 1991 and now acts as an intermodal transit hub for the city’s metro and commuter rail systems along with long-distance trains. The terminal was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.