This photo is from the summer of 2005. The former
Santa Fe station was still undergoing its long rehabilitation
in connection with the major residential and commercial project in the
area. It had been removed to a nearby location for Gold
Line construction. Then it was replaced very near
to, but not
exactly upon, its original footprint.
I lived not too far away from the depot for a few years now
quite a while ago, in the second half of the first decade of Amtrak
-- the later 1970s into 1980. The Southwest Limited -- a name
rather briefly used -- stopped here on its way to L.A. in the fairly
early morning (if it was on schedule), and outbound to Chicago in the
evening. It is the collective memories of the hot Valley evenings of
late summer and early autumn that I best remember. I would install
myself to await the train. Darkness would
have already descended well in advance of arrival time. A small cluster
of passengers and their associates would be gathering for their
good-byes at this first eastbound stop. We watched, each with our
own vested interest.
And then, a distant horn, and soon after a headlight bursting
into view blocks away. And more of the horn for the grade crossings
ahead as the beam of light became increasingly intense.
Soon after departure, which was scheduled for 8:00 P.M., conversations would die
down and autos would start up and leave; and then would return the rather forlorn quiet to the immediate
district, which was comprised mainly of light industry and warehousing. It was the kind of scene not necessarily unique or unusual to
Pasadena, but it left its deep imprinting on this railroad fan.
The urban transformation
that has taken place in this area is a complex and rather emotional
experience for me. In that older time, with all its rich
memories, only the foolhardy or the unrecognized visionary could
have ever argued that modern light rail would ever again serve the
Los Angeles Basin, and that it would one day run by this particular