Metro Gold Line Opening

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yesterday, November 15th, Metro opened it newest rail line: The Gold Line Eastside extension, a 6-mile, 8-station light rail connecting Downtown to the predominately-Hispanic areas immediately east of it. The train, which runs at-grade along a dedicated right of way and an underground subway tunnel (the latter for 1/3rd of the trip), debuts as the first rail line in the transit-starved and -dependent region; and was met with appropriate fanfare: some 75,000+ people showed up for free rides, food and various festivities along the route. The rail successful opening comes on the heels of a Metro marketing blitz that included interactive websites, advertisements throughout the city and numerous community meetings designed to foment demand and awareness.

Around 1-oclock, I set out from the 7th/Metro Center to Union Station, where I anticipated a free ride from its westernmost terminus. However, though, that was all but impossible; lines snaked throughout the station and into adjoining parking lots outside of the facility itself. That having failed, I backtracked to my starting place and caught a ride to the Little Tokyo station, hoping the station would be absent of the ridiculous crowds, madness and frenzy found at Union Station. The Little Tokyo station itself was typical of the Metro light rail stations as of late; generally outdoors in nature, compact in footprint and minimalistic in detail, with a central theme incorporated into the design. Having succeeded in avoiding the chaos at US, I called a friend of mine, Eric, and told him to meet me there and to bypass Union Station altogether.

While I waited on the platform for Eric, I was recognized by several people who were familiar with my photography work on sites such as Flickr and Skyscraperpage. Being the congenial person I am, we all chatted about and discussed the euphoria and praised the expansion of LA’s fledgling mass transit system – while of course, urging for the continued expansion of it. And, while on this topic, I’ve got to admit, there is a certain coolness associated with being recognized by folks from the ‘net. Before we knew it, amidst all of the commotion, we were aboard an eastbound train, having decided upon Mariachi Plaza as our first destination.

The station, named for the oft-romanticized mariachi bands that have traditionally performed at the titular plaza, was jam-packed with a fairly large-sized street fair taking up most of 1st Street. The fair unsurprisingly was complete with a mariachi band, of who were crooning while hundreds of people visited the booths of the numerous food/craft vendors, community organizations and NGO’s in attendance. After that, I continued heading along 1st, and before I knew it, I had crossed the 5 Freeway and was within distance of the Soto St. stop, which was a handful of blocks away.

The Soto St. Station, with its pulsating egg and refreshing simplicity was my favorite and definitely a looker. Blue and white, the station’s clean lines gave it a suave minimalistic edge and aura. Cool subway stations aside, I was most attracted to the theme and its relation to the neighborhood; the colors were definitely a stretch for the nabe, but the theme, which stressed finding home and one’s self was fitting, given Boyle Heights is a major hub for Mexican immigration. (Despite being nearly 100% Hispanic today, Boyle Heights was once the home the largest Jewish population west of the Mississippi – boasting some 50,000 Jews and 100 houses of worship).

After hopping on and off trains all day, engaging in a good bit of conversating and picture-taking, I had gradually worked myself up an appetite; and now was time to eat. I went to the perennial King Taco, the granddaddy of Mexican food in the area, and a place celebrated by locals and foodies alike. I ordered the quesadillas de pollo, served with guacamole, and got a coke to drink. Quite tasty, as usual..no surprises here. As previously mentioned on this blog, Boyle Heights/ELA, alongside perhaps Highland Park and South Gate/Huntington Park nexus (don’t really visit the latter 2) are the crème of the crop when it comes to Mexican food in LA. The sheer number of good places, on a per capita basis, is unrivaled…though Boyle Heights *should* be that way given it is the heart of Mexican culture in the world’s 2nd largest Mexican city.

So, what do I think of the new Gold Line? Well, first and foremost, I support Metro’s efforts to expand mass transit and foster a more livable, human-friendly city and environment. That said, I feel as if some things could have been improved. Number one being that it really should have been the subway the area deserves – and was promised. As for the light rail itself? The at-grade and stopping at red lights both have got to go. (Though, these aren’t nearly as bad as the stations in the 210 median, lol!) My other concerns, namely the slowing down around Union Station and Indiana Street will hopefully only be mere teething issues and resolved at a later date. Still, though, I am excited for this opening represents one of the more tangible results of our rather new commitment to transit. Too, this is the coming of age, the unfolding of the “new” Los Angeles – right before my very eyes, to boot.
















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5 comments: to “ Metro Gold Line Opening so far...

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    Edward R. Roybal Gold Line Eastside Extension/ La Linea de Oro / King Taco Line

    But in all seriousness, the opening of this line is going to increase my Mexican food consumption tenfold.

    Great shots. Let's go again soon, now that all those temporary festival tents are out of the way of my camera lens.

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    I like the picture showing that lens casually placed next to the tacos and pepsi.. photogs at lunch!

    BTW, that taco meal looks a little bit small for american standards, am I right?

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    i was there too, you perfectly described how the events went and the kind of people and atmosphere that was there as well. im really glad eastlos finally has a train, for a place where everybody rides the bus, i think its about time!! your writing is pretty much exactly what people have been saying for all these years: BUILD MORE TRAINS FOR THE PEOPLE!! metro should be looking at your blog for ideas and trends and stuff look that!! and since we're in this recession it'd probably be alot cheaper lol

    and also, too bad i didnt get to see you! i wouldve liked to have meet the man behind the blog haha. maybe we went at different times or something..either way ill be on the lookout for you, señor wells ;)

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