Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Militant's Ultimate (M) Gold Line Tour

Yes, Angelenos, the Militant is back.

He took a brief hiatus after getting over his post-Dodger-postseason Depression (PDPD) and had a bout with what may or may not have been the Swine Flu.

The Militant is okay, both emotionally and physically, and in fact did see someone dressed in a costume resembling that of the Militant at a gas station on Halloween Night (for you "Pics-Or-It-Didn't-Happen" types, sorry, the Militant Cam didn't work quickly enough, and certainly none of you would be amused by the picture of a back of someone's car).

Anyhoo, let's get right down to business. Sometimes the Militant gets lazy, sometimes he rants, sometimes he does a little event coverage, but sometimes he does a Mega-Post(tm) - such as last year's Pulitzer Prize-winning* post on the lost Sacatela Creek. A post full of text, images and a heck of a lot of Militant Research. Well, Angelenos, the Militant is about to give you the proverbial Mother Of All Mega-Posts.

This Mega-Post(tm) contains not one, not two, nor three, four or five, but - count 'em - six years of Militant research (Of course, there was no MA blog as we know it even three years ago, but you'll just have to trust the Militant on this one.

Okay, we're inflating the word count already...As you may or may not know, the (M) Gold Line will never be the same this Sunday, as the long-awaited expansion to the Eastside (the Real Eastside, to you hipster lowlifes out there) will open to the transit-riding public.

Well, your lives - and your knowledge of Los Angeles - will never be the same after this Mega-Post(tm). The Militant is about to take you on a tour of the Pasadena-to-Los Angeles (M) Gold Line...MILITANT STYLE!

Yes, it's not just about parades, football games, concerts or pub crawls. The Gold Line is a veritable, uh, gold mine of historical and trivial facts, most of which aren't visible to the casual obvserver. It's like a Transformer, yo...More than meets the eye!

So here it is...drum roll please...a post over two years in the making...


Being that the Militant is central Los Angeles-centric, this tour will start from Union Station and end at Sierra Madre Villa station. Got it? Now tap your TAP cards (beep), and let's goooo!

Oh wait, you gotta go to the bathroom first? OK, OK, It's down the pedestrian tunnel, then make a left. HURRY!

...Okay, we're off!

View The Militant's (M) Gold Line Tour in a larger map

1. Private Rail Car Yard
Look to your left, as the train ascends up the elevated structure. There's a private rail car yard for privately-owned (non-Amtrak) passenger cars, whose owners pay Amtrak a fee for connecting to existing passenger trains.

This yard was originally built to house the business cars of the Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Santa Fe railroads, during the heyday of passenger rail travel.

2. Homeboy Industries / Homegirl Cafe
Due directly right as the train curves, you can literally touch the building. It's the new headquarters of the nonprofit social enterprise Homeboy Industries. The Militant has already eaten at Homegirl Cafe. Great food, great service, great cause - MILITANT APPROVED!

3. Capitol Milling Company
This family-owned flour mill operated from 1831 to 1997, before moving its operation to a much larger facility in Colton. The mill supplied flour to clients such as Ralphs, Foix French Bakery and La Brea Bakery. In 1999, the family-owned operation was purchased by industry giant Con-Agra Co.

The historic building, built even before the railroads arrived in Los Angeles, still has a horse-tethering ring, back to the days when grain was hauled by horse carriage from farms in the San Fernando Valley.

4. Zanja Madre Relics
This recovered piece of Los Angeles history appears as a pipeline-like structure made of bricks and masonry. The Zanja Madre was the early water supply/irrigation system for the early pueblo of Los Angeles, which channeled water from the then-naturally running Porciuncula (Los Angeles) river into the town.

This relic was discovered by Metro construction crews in 2005 and placed on display here.

5. Swallow's Nests
Who says there's no wildlife in the City? Look towards the side of the Broadway Viaduct (along the middle of the photo on the left) and you'll see a row of swallow's nests - constructed in the same fashion as they are in mountainside cliffs - built into the concrete!

6. (M) Gold Line Yard & Shops
This yard, the former approach to the old Southern Pacific Cornfield Yard, (now Los Angeles Historic State Park), is where the Gold Line's fleet of Siemens and Breda light rail cars are stored, cleaned and maintained daily.

7. The Old Lincoln Heights Jail
Former LAPD Police Station and City Jailhouse from 1931 to 1966, holding up to 2800 prisoners at its peak. Still owned by the City, it was abandoned due to capacity and now serves as the home of the Los Angeles Youth Athletic Club, The Bilingual Foundation for the Arts theater company, and the Aztlan Foundation which provides workshops in Latino art and culture for the community.

8. Unidentified Flying Object!
Look to your left right before the train crosses the Pasadena Freeway! There's a flying saucer here at this Lincoln Heights scrapyard!

9. Bird Zoo
If you're heading towards Pasadena, look quickly to your right, just before you reach the Southwest Museum station and behind the fence, you'll see a bunch of caged birds and animals in the backyard of this apartment complex. Exotic animals seen here include a peacock, cockatoos and a goat.

10. Casa de Adobe
Building owned by the nearby Southwest Museum for temporary exhibits and cultural events, such as the annual Lummis Day Festival.

11. Figueroa Upper Walkway
You'll have to get off at the Southwest Museum station to see it. This second-set-of-sidewalk above the street-level sidewalk is a unique sight in Los Angeles, connecting various houses and apartments with the Casa de Adobe and the entrance to the (M) Gold Line Southwest Museum Station.

12. Old L.A. Certified Farmer's Market
Hop off the Gold Line at the Highland Park station every Tuesday from 3 to 8 p.m. for this weekly Farmer's Market in Highland Park. Check out the Militant's post!

13. Quetzalcoatl Chicano Heritage Mural
This mural, painted in 1995, depicts and celebrates Chicano history and heritage. Commissioned for $50,000 and partially financed by Rage Against The Machine singer Zak de la Rocha, this mural at Ave 61 and Figueroa has been a visible landmark and point of pride for the Highland Park community.

14. Arroyo Seco Viaduct
Your train travels on this bridge, along with most of the Gold Line's right-of-way, carried freight and passenger trains of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (now merged into the BNSF Railway) until 1994. The bridge was converted from single-track to double-track during the Gold Line's construction in the late 1990s.

15. Mission West Farmer's Market
Don't forget to hop off the Gold Line at the Mission Station on Thursday evenings to catch this SouthPas tradition. Check out the Militant's Post!

16. Oaklawn Pedestrian Bridge
This decorative concrete arch bridge was built in 1910 for the neighborhood's bougie residents to cross over the Santa Fe Railway tracks. More info here.

17. Potential Bikeway?
Wouldn't this be a neato location for a future bikeway? A Militant can dream...C'mon Metro, let's make it happen!

18. Art Center South Campus
The South Campus of the Art Center College of Design opened in 2004. The building was originally an aircraft testing facility built during World War II. The Militant visited this place at the end of a Pasadena Ride-Arc ride last year.

19. The First Trader Joe's
This is the oldest and longest-operating Trader Joe's supermarket in the entire chain. So for all of you with friends in Seattle or Boston or NYC who just rave about "their TJ's," show them the OG TJs and make them RECOGNIZE!

20. Historic Santa Fe Pasadena Depot
This building at the Gold Line Del Mar station says "Pasadena" on it for a reason: it was the original Pasadena railroad depot operated by the Santa Fe Railway from 1925 to 1971, and by Amtrak form 1971 to 1994, when the passenger line was rerouted and the line abandoned to make was for what was then known as the "Pasadena Blue Line." The Santa Fe "cross" logo motifs can still be found all over the station building.

The station is now adaptively reused as a restaurant as part of the Del Mar Station mixed-use development.

21. Del Mar Station Bike Parking Facility
Check it - this station has bike parking! No, not just some lame aluminum "sinewave" racks placed in some obscure, forgotten corner, but an actual room where bikes can be parked and locked!

22. Manny Ramirez's Condo(?)
Not confirmed, but according to operative reports, Dodgers Outfielder Manny Ramirez owns a condo in this mixed-use development. The Militant doesn't know which unit, nor has he had the opportunity to party like a rockstar there.

23. Colorado Blvd Subway
The original Santa Fe Railway tracks crossed Colorado, but Metro built an underpass for the light rail line for some reason. Something to do with a parade every January...

24. Ruins of the Original Pasadena Public Library
This "Memorial Park" in Pasadena is no cemetery, but it does contain the remains of the original central Public Library building, located here from 1890 to 1927, and demolished in 1954. The current Public Library opened in 1927. The city of Pasadena retained the columns in memory of the original library building, dedicated in 1955.

25. Former Pacific Electric Right-Of-Way
This landscaped median, typical of many in Southern California, once carried interurban streetcars of the Pacific Electric Railway from 1904 to 1950 in a line that originated from 6th and Main streets in Downtown Los Angeles.

26. Eaton Wash
This flood control channel captures snow runoff from the San Gabriel Mountains about a mile high above, and runs through Eaton Canyon.

27. Pasadena Sandwich Co.
Some of the biggest sammiches you've ever seen are sold at this hole-in-the-wall shop on Sierra Madre Villa Ave, just steps away from the Gold Line station.

28. Site of Hastings Ranch
This large suburban retail development was once the location of Charles Cook Hastings' 1,100-acre Mesa Alta Rancho from 1882 to 1942, boasting a vineyard and later exotic plant and animal life. After the death of Hastings' son the land was sold to become tract housing, retail and a drive-in theater during the post-war development boom.

So there you have it, 28 points of interest from the window of your Gold Line train or a short walk away. Come Sunday, the Militant will no doubt have to update this list (Google Maps needs to put some more recent images, ahem, ahem). But for those of you who do the Gold Line every day to and from work, you'll never look at your commute the same way again.


Anonymous said...

I tip my sombrero to you for this excellent post, Militant.

Anonymous said...

Great job! I heart the Gold Line. (Have too, I live within 50 feet of its tracks!)

Re: #8, For years, the UFO sat in the parking lot of a burger stand on Fountain and Vermont, poignantly a block away from Scientology world headquarters. Now its owned by a Lincoln Heights resident who brings it out each year in the Lincoln Heights Christmas Parade. (Oh, and that scrap yard is the Northeast LA Official Police Garage. It's where impounded and abandoned vehicles get towed to in NELA.)

RE: #9. I could have sworn I saw a flamingo here once. Maybe it was just plastic?

RE: #11 Love that walkway. It's a totally forgotten path from the glory days of Sycamore Grove park. LA Commons is doing a temporary mural project there soon.

RE: #14 Oldest bridge in LA.

RE: #16 The only bridge designed by Greene & Greene, used to access the Pacific Electric streetcar on Fair Oaks. (Also off to the right one can see the construction of the annual Southpas Rose Float.)

RE: #17 That path on the left side of the tracks WAS a bike path once a hundred years ago: The California Cycleway, an elevated wooden track designed to run from Pasadena to Los Angeles.

RE: #27a: That's a big sandwich!

Militant Angeleno said...

highlandpark: Thanks for your insights!

8: The Militant may or may not have remembered that UFO now that you mentioned it! Though it's seemed to have stayed in the same location ever since the Gold Line opened in '03.

9: No you're right, there is a real flamingo in the bird zoo.

14. Are you sure? The Militant was referring to the steel railroad bridge, which is obviously 20th century in construction. Surely many bridges were built before the 1900s.

17: Thanks, the Militant knows about the Cycleway, and hopes to re-trace its path in a future post, but there's little to no map data on it.

M. Bouffant said...

Welcome back. Was starting to worry.

I often take the current Gold Line to my sweetie-pies's pad in Garvanza; now I'll have more to look at on the trip.

Blaze a trail & let us know what the new leg is like when it opens.

Militant Angeleno said...

M. Bouffant: Thanks for the concern. Life can get in the way of blogging sometimes!

The Militant will DEFINITELY be there on Sunday to ride to the Eastside! It will be the first Metro Rail opening since this blog started, so look for a Vlogstyle video even!

TransitPlanner said...

Looking forward to Part 2 (East L.A. Extension) Tour !