I have lived in major cities all of my life, relying on public transit to get around. But it was in Los Angeles where I converted into a regular car commuter. The opening of the Metro Exposition rail line changed that. Although I still drive daily (Los Angeles is, after all, a big county), I am relieved to have the choice of public transit. The daily ride is my madeleine, triggering long buried memories of commuting by train in different cities and different landscapes.
My travels from Culver City station to Downtown Los Angeles have been an education in urban culture. From my seat on the train, I am drawn daily to the passing scenes and have been curious enough about them to look up their stories.
Some places, like the USC campus and Exposition Park, are well known destinations. My research revealed anecdotes of minor and prominent landmarks, as well as monographs of historic buildings and places.
What is the story of the Felix Chevrolet sign I see in the distance; or the murals along a wall of Los Angeles Trade Tech College? How large is the West Angeles Church’s congregation? Who were the architects of the historic St. John’s Cathedral and the Spanish revival building located down the street from it? Each story reveals a bit more about the city I have called home for over two decades.
By the way, have you noticed the lot used by LATTC for its pole climbing training? I made up my own narrative for it. I re-envision the space as a public art piece — a modern interpretation of an urban forest, neatly arranged rows of trunks without canopies.