Best of all, the Militant was definitely there. So direct from the Militant archives, the Militant Angeleno would like to celebrate this landmark occasion by sharing with you footage of the opening ceremonies and the first Blue Line train, straight from the Militant's own big-ass VHS camcorder home video footage (those things weren't very light, you know...):
This was also listed as KCET.org's Video Of The Day!
For all you longtime Angelenos, you can spot some well-known dignitaries of the time who are no longer with us, such as the late County supervisor Kenneth Hahn, California Lt. Governor Leo McCarthy and of course the great Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley.
Look closely and you can also spot City Councilman Mike Woo, RTD director Nick Patsaouras and a brown-haired James Hahn, who was City Attorney at the time.
Yes, aside from being in the Pre-Villaraigosa world, we were really living in a different place back then; On Blue Line opening day, the line was only 19.5 miles long - only the section between the Pico and Anaheim stations was in operation (The Long Beach loop would open in September '90 and the underground section to 7th/Metro Center opened in Feb '91). The fares were free for the first two weeks, and afterward were only $1.10 (A 40-cent increase in 20 years? Compare that to the increase of gas prices since then - $1.16/gal vs. $3.07/gal today. Not bad when you think about it, so quit yer bitching, BRU drones). The area around Pico Station was a bleak industrial zone. No Staples Center, the Convention Center had not been expanded yet, and certainly no condos, restaurants or LA Live. In fact, tell someone 20 years ago about that and you'd get laughed at!
But transit has come a long way since then. "Metro" was just a branding term back then, as the transit authority at the time was the Southern California Rapid Transit District (a.k.a. RTD (Rough, Tough and Dirty, Really Tardy Drivers, etc)). The transit planning agency was the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, an entity invisible to the typical Angeleno. The two agencies would merge three years later to become the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, that we know today. The blue striping on the trains were replaced several years ago with the orange striping we see today, and some of the shiny, new Japanese-built railcars that first rolled on that day will be retired and replaced in the near future (with former Gold Line cars).
But most of all, the 0 miles of rail transit that existed 20 years and one day ago has bloomed into a now a 79.1-mile system of five colored lines, larger than SF's 72-mile BART system was 20 years ago. The litany of localities listed in Supervisor Ed Edelman's speech are all reachable destinations today (Well, okay, LAX...not quite yet). Most of all, the little kids and crying babies who rode on the same train as the Militant that day are now grown adults, some of whom ride Metro Rail to and from work every day.
So there you go. The Militant was definitely there to witness history and bring it to you today (And where was Hidden Los Angeles 20 years ago? Definitely not in Los Angeles!). If you can get a chance, take a ride on Metro Rail today and reflect on where we've been and where we're going (Culver City, Santa Monica and Azusa are just around the corner).
And here was how the local TV news reported on the event:
HAPPY 20th BIRTHDAY, METRO RAIL!