Santa Fe Station, Pasadena

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 location. 

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