My Native Place: Ticket to the Past and Future

LATELY AS I make my turns around the city, I have been struck by how even more quickly its narrative gets rewritten — streets, storefronts, housing tracts, signage even the curve against the shore.

As I begin to consider the architecture of a class I will be teaching again next semester, one that uses the city as subject and laboratory, I have found myself thinking about how rapidly and aggressively this change happens and how, sometimes, it’s difficult to articulate.

I was heartened by something I observed recently however. Last week, while downtown for meetings and then working dinner with an editor, I ended up at Union Station. The Station, which was purchased not long ago by by LA Metro, has gone through a renaissance. This one, thankfully, respectful.

We Angelenos have reason to worry about such things. We’ve watched so many of the puzzle-pieces of our elegant past razed, paved over, essentially “disappeared.” For awhile, back in the 80s, Union Station felt like a relic headed either toward the attic or the curb, but now as a connecting hub that serves as a nexus connecting a web of commuter lines, it’s pushed life into the the decades-old building, that so elegantly caps this edge of the city.

Built in 1939, it was the entry point for so many Angelenos who were stepping out on faith or chance. Today it still serves as a hub not simply linking commuters across the city and counties, but between past and present.

When I want to get back to what it is that “feels” like Los Angeles, this is where I wander to for big dose of “home.”


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