Touring Union Station
I’ve been a member of the Los Angeles Conservancy for about a dozen years. My first introduction to the organization was through a walking tour of the Broadway Historic Theatre District. Little did I know that after 2 hours of walking the streets of downtown LA I would become a person passionate about historic preservation and a future volunteer with the conservancy. Although I’ve had many wonderful experiences in my time with the group it had been several years since I took one of their regular walking tours. It was time to go back to my roots so I signed for one of their most popular tours – Union Station.
This beautiful train station opened in 1939 and has been a gem of the city ever since. I’ve long admired it but never delved into its nitty gritty. So, one Saturday morning I met with a dozen other preservation fans and started my tour.
Our docent was well versed in the facts of Union Station and gave us a thorough tour into the history of the building and of Los Angeles transportation. Armed with several historic photos he gave us a glimpse into the past that was truly fascinating.
As Union Station is still a popular transportation hub much of it is open to the public but there is still one area that offers only limited access – the Harvey House.
I’ve been curious about Harvey Houses ever since I was a little girl and obsessed with the move, The Harvey Girls. This chain of restaurants and hotels was started by Fred Harvey and located at train stations around the country. It was noted for its high quality fare and the distinctive black and white uniforms worn by the waitstaff known as Harvey Girls.
The restaurant at Union Station has long been shuttered and is used now as an event space. The only way to visit is to attend an event or…take the conservancy tour!
I was so excited to go inside and it did not disappoint. The restaurant is still in good condition and retains much of its original features.
I was particularly fond of the tilework.
Parrots? How awesome is that!
We learned that one of the biggest hurdles in reopening the restaurant is the fact that the humongous kitchen is nearly impossible to bring to code.
Luckily, it looks like a creative work around has been found as a new gastropub is set to open there in the future. Just because you can’t cook in the kitchen doesn’t mean you can’t brew beer there!
Our tour continued on throughout the station and included the modern addition and the adjacent MTA building. The entire tour was interesting but my favorite part was the Harvey House. I can’t wait until it reopens!