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Gold Line Eastside Extension Opens

By Ed Fuentes and Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, November 16, 2009, at 01:53PM
Gold Line Eastside Extension Dedication Eric Richardson [Flickr]

A train carrying elected officials and invited guests pulls into the East L.A. Civic Center station for the dedication of the Gold Line Eastside Extension.

Angelenos took to the rails on Sunday for opening day of the six-mile, $898-million Gold Line Eastside Extension. Metro estimates 75,000 Sunday boardings for the line, which connects Union Station with Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights and East L.A.

"Today's event was a must-attend," said Drew Lesso, an Arts District resident since the mid-80s. "I'm always happy to see new public transport and the sense of community that develops. Looking out at the neighborhood today, I almost got a feeling that I was in Europe . . . well almost."

The low-keyed Little Tokyo / Arts District station block party couldn't compete with the feeling found on the eastside. Boyle Heights held a Mariachi Festival and street party, and the East Los Angeles Civic Center had a farmers' market and concert featuring Chicano music, all to showcase what can be found in the neighborhoods few non-locals have dared to explore.

Still, some riders used the Gold Line to visit destinations near the Little Tokyo / Arts District station that are already known. “I planned to see the new show at MOCA anyway,” said Richard Donnel, in from Pasadena to visit the Geffen Contemporary, also free Sunday. “Taking a train in made it a new kind of day in L.A."

Joining Councilwoman Jan Perry for a ribbon cutting at the Little Tokyo / Arts District station were County Supervisor Gloria Molina and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who were hopping from stop to stop for ceremonial cuttings.

For Allard, bringing rail to L.A.'s eastside could be considered a family project that began with her father, Congressman Edward R. Roybal. "This is the one he fought the hardest for and it took so long," said Roybal-Allard on Saturday after the civic dedication. "There were so many obstacles that were out in front of us for many years. To finally be able to reach this goal is a tremendous victory for communities to reap together."

At the Mariachi Plaza station dedication, Councilman Jose Huizar invited the Consul Generals of Israel, Japan and Mexico to introduce to the crowd a plan to reunite the cultural legacy that once ran from Little Tokyo to East Los Angeles.

"We were once part of Boyle Heights past," said Consul General of Israel Jacob Dayan. "We will be part of its future."

As of Sunday, so is the train.


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