One Good Life in Los Angeles

Roslyn's observations about places and events around Southern California

The train! The train! All the way from Culver City to downtown LA on the Metro Expo Line.

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Culver City Expo Line station

Train arriving at Culver City Expo Line station – decorative tile in foreground

Wednesday, June 20 at noon the train station at Culver City officially opened. Less than two hours later a friend and I tested the waters… or should I say the rails… on the Metro Expo Line running to the Metro Center at 7th and Flower in downtown Los Angeles.

Culver City Expo Line station

Culver City Expo Line station

It was an exhilarating experience. And brought my personal history full circle with transportation in this city. The first time my family moved to Los Angeles was in the early sixties. I remember riding the Red Car to downtown LA to shop at the department stores. Downtown was where you went for the full shopping experience back then. When we were ready to come home we had to stand on a painted island—no physical barriers at all except a stripe of paint—in between two lanes of traffic racing past. That was an exhilaration of a totally different kind indeed!

Culver City Expo Line station

A great way to ride your bike all the way from downtown LA!

When we returned to LA a couple of years later, the Red Cars were history. We won’t go into that ignominious and infamous story here. But we are now paying dearly for it.

Culver City Expo Line station artwork

Photo collage of tiles inset into platform depicting history of former rail system that covered the Los Angeles area.

I never thought I would see rail transport come to West LA—let alone a short walk from my abode in Culver City—in my lifetime. It’s a miracle. I still think I am going to wake up one morning and read the story in the LA Times that train travel in our city is at least twenty years in the future!

Culver City Expo Line station

Culver City Expo Line map

Of course, I take the bus as much as possible but I grew up in England riding the train from one part of town to the other. It’s my favorite form of transportation. Fast, clean, efficient. I just returned from a visit to England and enjoyed riding the rails again.  

Culver City Expo Line bus stop

Culver City Expo Line – looking out to Washington Blvd and the bus stop for the Culver City #1 line that goes all the way to Venice.

So the journey on Wednesday from Robertson and Washington to the Metro Center was nothing less than amazing. I’ve been to this station at 7th and Flower many times over the years but arriving on the Culver City train was special.

Artwork at the Culver City Expo Line station

Artwork at the Culver City Expo Line station

TL and I walked out of the station on to busy 7th Street. I commented to my friend that it was like taking a spaceship to another planet… but an entirely interesting one. I happen to love downtown LA. It is full of life in every direction.

Buying tickets at the Culver City station

Buying tickets at the Culver City station

Years ago I was a Los Angeles Conservancy docent. I would bring my tour goers up 7th Street for the much-lamented, no-longer-available Marble Masterpieces Walking Tour. It was the best tour on the schedule but unfortunately dumped shortly after I left… okay, don’t get me started!!!!

My friend and I gazed in awe at the beautiful buildings from the glorious decade of the 1920s. The Conservancy has saved many of these architectural wonders from the wrecking ball. And I miss leading those tours…

St. Vincent's Court downtown LA

St. Vincent’s Court downtown LA

We were walking towards Broadway but as we passed a non-descript alleyway we noticed an outdoor café. We ventured further and discovered the alley was infested with cafés of all denominations. We felt like we were back in Paris.

St. Vincent's Court downtown LA - where we bought our sandwiches

St. Vincent’s Court downtown LA – cafe where we bought our sandwiches

We only wanted some light fare so we settled on a sandwich shop. We ordered two sandwiches wrapped in Lavash bread which we thought was a good deal for $6.99 each, only to find out they came with a drink and fries. When the meal arrived we agreed it was enough for four people, but I managed to plow through and left not a crumb on my plate.

All this and a drink (I chose Snapple) for $6.99!

All this and a drink (I chose Snapple) for $6.99!

We sat and talked on this warm weekday afternoon splat in the middle of the Jewelry District. We couldn’t remember when sidewalk cafés became a phenomenon in Los Angeles but we agreed it wasn’t that long ago. Strange for a city that has such an inviting climate. But whenever that first restaurant hit on the idea to put tables out on the street it was like a plague that spread overnight. A good plague, of course!  

St. Vincent's Court - Bullocks porte cochere

St. Vincent’s Court – what was probably the circa 1920s Bullock’s department store porte cochere

Around 4:00pm we walked back to the station. When we rode the train in we were surprised how few people were traveling. But when the train pulled in to take us back to Culver City, people came tumbling out of the doors… where did they all come from?

Metro Center at 7th and Flower - tile mural

Metro Center at 7th and Flower – tile mural

I imagine it will take a while for the citizens of West LA to get used to the idea of leaving their cars behind. As much as I enjoy traveling on the bus system, I understand why some people don’t like to take the bus. But the train is a different story—being able to say you arrived by train is so much more classy!

(All photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)

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Author: RMW

I am an explorer and creative person. I've had many jobs, careers and interests... everything in life and the universe fascinates me. Born in Brighton, England, I've lived my entire adult life in Los Angeles. Recently I rediscovered photography and I am busy learning everything I can about it. It's a great excuse for getting outside, wandering around and stopping to look at things.

4 thoughts on “The train! The train! All the way from Culver City to downtown LA on the Metro Expo Line.

  1. When did they start construction on the line? I left LA a little over a year ago, and don’t remember seeing it being worked on. But I lever really went past Duquenese in Culver City.

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  2. According to the Metro website, it was approved in 2005 and broke ground the following year. It doesn’t quite go as far west as Duquesne… the station is at Robertson which is a few blocks east… I think from there it will turn north a little as they are starting to build across Venice Blvd as far as I can tell. But it will be a few more years before it reaches its final destination in Santa Monica!

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  3. Pingback: A day on the towns: Los Angeles, North Hollywood and Culver City « One Good Life in Los Angeles

  4. Pingback: Train’s a-comin’ – all the way to the beach | One Good Life in Los Angeles

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