Home Architectural Travel Cool Building: Union Station, Los Angeles

Cool Building: Union Station, Los Angeles

by Penny Sadler
Cool Building Union Station Los Angeles @PennySadler 2013

Union Station, Los Angeles

Train stations rank high on my list of cool buildings and spaces.   I love the feeling of adventure and freedom I get upon walking into a train station. One of my bucket list items is to ride a train from Los Angeles to New York and get off at all the interesting stops in between. Trains are a wonderful way to slow travel and discover the countryside as you pass through. Though not every train station is an architectural treasure, Union Station in Los Angeles definitely is. Inside and out, it epitomizes a time when rail travel was the norm in the United States, and travel in general occurred at a more relaxed pace.

Union Station was built in 1939 and was the last of the “Grand” stations built.

Cool building Union Station, Los Angeles, @PennySadler 2013

Clock Tower

The design is Spanish Mission Revival combined with Streamline Modern Art Deco. The exterior (white stucco with a red tile roof) and the gardens reflect the influence of Spain in California’s history.

cool building union station Los Angeles, @PennySadler 2013


Inside Union Station, the archways and terracotta tile floors add more Spanish elements to the mix. The floors are so highly polished you can see your reflection in them, adding to the vast feeling of the space, even though the Los Angeles station is not as large as some of the other Union Stations.

cool buildings union station los angeles @PennySadler 2013

Waiting area

Cool buildings union station los angeles @PennySadler 2013

art deco details

Streamline modern design elements throughout the waiting area, include huge seats in wood and leather, like club chairs, that beckon you to curl up with a book or your laptop. Certainly it was built in an era when design didn’t seem to sacrifice to economy, even if it was built during the Great Depression.

Cool building union station, los angeles, @PennySadler, 2013

Meeting room?

I wandered into a bar that looked like it was straight out of a film noir; wood veneers, all dark and cozy, with a few intimate tables scattered about.

Cool buildings union station los angeles@PennySadler 2013

exterior courtyard dining

Union Station is in the heart of historic downtown Los Angeles, and was placed on the national register of historic places in 1980.. It’s a really fun area for tourists, full of history and culture. If you go, plan to spend about half a day or more there, enjoying the sights and having lunch on Olvera Street or in Chinatown.

Do you like traveling by rail? Where is your favorite train station?

More information:

If you enjoy historic walks read my post on Historic Downtown Los Angeles.

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Melissa September 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Love the Art Deco!! Had no idea this was out there…

Penny Sadler September 12, 2013 at 11:02 pm

LA is full of interesting architecture and history – I had no idea either. Luckily I visit friends who were born there and no the city inside and out.

Mary @ Green Global Travel September 9, 2013 at 11:22 am

Beautiful building. I am very familiar with Grand Central Station in NYC, but I didn’t realize that there were other Grand Stations. Thanks for sharing!

nicole September 6, 2013 at 1:20 am

it’s probably one of the prettiest train stations I’ve seen. Just wish it had more train service. Hey Amtrak and Metrolink, make it happen. =D

Penny Sadler September 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

Spoken like a local Nicole. 😉

Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com September 5, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Thanks for taking us on a virtual tour of the Union Station. I love writing about train stations myself. Just too bad ours here in the Philippines aren’t worth writing about. 😀

Penny Sadler September 5, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Is train travel big in the Philippines?

OCDemon September 4, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Trail travel is a million times better than bus travel. If I were an eccentric dictator, I’d put railways all over the place. EVERYWHERE I SAY.

Penny Sadler September 5, 2013 at 9:53 pm

I agree!

Marina K. Villatoro September 4, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Very Art deco. The outside would fit more in Miami than modern LA.

I guess it captures the once was era of LA!

Great photos.

Penny Sadler September 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Yes and there’s still a lot of Spanish architecture especially in residential areas. All along the California coast this is really popular. When I lived there we had a little stucco house with red tile roof. 🙂

The Tin Man September 4, 2013 at 3:09 pm

I love Union Station and have not been there in years. Thanks for the great photos.

Penny Sadler September 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Tin Man great to see you. Thanks for visiting.

Maria September 4, 2013 at 11:02 am

Now that’s a show stopper! Love those floors.

Penny Sadler September 4, 2013 at 3:46 pm

It really is amazing how much shine is on that tile!

wanderingeducators September 4, 2013 at 10:13 am


Penny Sadler September 4, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Thanks for visiting Jessie.

Cat of Sunshine and Siestas September 4, 2013 at 7:48 am

Really pretty! I’m afraid Chicago’s Grand Central has lost much of its charm. Thankfully, European stations more than make up for it!

Penny Sadler September 4, 2013 at 9:38 am

I do love European stations. So many options!

Elle September 4, 2013 at 6:35 am

Lovely photos Penny – and you got the horizontals bang on which will stop Alan from moaning 😉

Lots of love from sunny Almeria xxx

Penny Sadler September 4, 2013 at 9:39 am

Haha, don’t blame him.


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