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Union Station Plans Once Included a Jet-Age Hub

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, February 25, 2011, at 03:15PM
Proposed Transportation Center Los Angeles Examiner / USC Digital Archives [digitallibrary.usc.edu]

This 1958 plan for a multi-modal hub attached to Union Station would have added bus terminals, a heliport and direct freeway connections.

Yesterday's announcement that Metro would purchase Los Angeles' historic Union Station for $75 million included talk of making the facility "a world-class 21st century transportation hub."

It's not the first time there have been big plans for Union Station. In 1959, a city committee recommended that the station be renamed the "Union Transportation Terminal" and transformed into a hub for trains, buses and helicopters that would serve 7.5 million passengers annually.

One year earlier, architect J. Edward Martin had presented plans for a $20-million addition to the station. The L.A. Times said that the "super-deluxe depot would weave into one pattern loose strands of existing transport lines now converging on downtown in a crisscross tangle."

The six-story circular structure, partially situated over the existing railroad tracks, would have been "built like a 'sandwich,' with heliport and control tower on the roof and passenger concourses, long-haul bus terminals and commuter surface-line interchanges on lower levels."

The heliport was considered to be especially important in the dawn of the jet age. "Huge passenger planes will be forced to land at outlying sky harbors more spacious than the Los Angeles International Airport," the Times wrote, and the helicopters would ferry passengers back and forth into the city.

The plan was never to be, though the concept of a Union Station heliport would continue to be studied for another decade.

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