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Welcome to Los Angeles

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, August 13, 2007, at 09:46AM
Former Greyhound Station Eric Richardson [Flickr]

If you're on 7th street and glance into the parking entrance for the LA Merchandise Mart, you may just catch a glimpse of signage welcoming you to Los Angeles. It's one of those things that's pretty easy not to notice, but the little leftovers like this that tell the story of what Downtown used to be.

Why would a parking garage welcome you to Los Angeles? It would if that parking garage used to be a Greyhound station.

Taking up the entire block bounded by 6th, 7th, Los Angeles and Maple, the building now known as the Merchandise Mart is big. It opened in 1967 as one of the largest transportation centers on the west coast, serving both Greyhound and RTD buses.

Former Greyhound Station It was Greyhound who built the terminal to replace their 1933 station, located across the street. They partnered with the RTD (which later merged to become the MTA) to build a joint terminal. Welton Becket and Associates designed a three-level structure, with Greyhound buses upstairs and RTD buses down below. Sandwiched between, at street level, was a pedestrian concourse linking the two. On the roof of the building was parking for 625 cars. The new structure was seen as an important piece in the revitalization of the Historic Core, just then starting to really feel the move as banks and offices left for the skyscrapers of the new Downtown.

The 1980s and 90s saw much rougher times for Greyhound. In 1986, in the midst of bankruptcy, the company sold the terminal. In 1991 the company then used another bankruptcy proceeding to get out of a lease that would have kept it locked into the terminal for another ten years. It was then that the present-day site east of Alameda came into use.

Today it would be easy to see the Merchandise Mart as just another of Downtown's many wholesale / retail buildings, but if you take a look a little closer you'll see that it's filled with signs of its past life.


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