Union Station today is a celebrated architectural icon and vibrant centerpiece of Los Angeles's regional transportation network. Designed by John and Donald B. Parkinson, its mission revival architecture speaks to a mythic vision of Spanish heritage, but with streamline moderne and art deco details. At first glance this masterpiece, conceived as a magnificent gateway to the growing metropolis, offers no hint of the civic, financial, and legal battles surrounding its development, siting, style, and construction--battles that were waged across decades in the early twentieth century and that went as high as the U.S. Supreme Court.
Los Angeles Union Station explores this compelling example of how transit and corporations disrupted regional balances of power and political economies. Aided by new research and beautiful drawings from the Getty Research Institute's archive, the authors demonstrate how contentious politics informed architectural design--and the many ways in which Union Station was at the heart of the rise of Los Angeles. The book accompanies the exhibition No Further West, on view at the Los Angeles Public Library from May 2 through August 10, 2014.