Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Train Station

Many years ago I was looking for a hobby. This was before I re-discovered painting. I had already built a tiny model train layout and spend a year and a half building a model wooden ship and I needed something new. While perusing the local public library I happened upon the book David Gentlemen's Britain and decided to get a sketchbook and draw my city, Pasadena, California.

My original intent was to document the changes I saw every day as buildings were built and others torn down. One of my first subjects was the train station. At that time, back in the late 80's, it was quite active, serving four Amtrak trains a day. Freight trains passed every few hours and there was even a freight station and a siding for deliveries. If I was out with my boys in the evening, we would sometimes stop at the station and wait for the evening long haul Amtrak to pull in for its first stop after departing from Los Angeles Union Station on its way east. We would look in at the dark and cozy sleeping compartments and wish we were on board.

I have drawn the station many times since that first sketch, and have seen it through many changes. One day as I was coming to work, the Santa Fe Super Chief was there for a movie shoot. That was the height of its modern life. Eventually, Amtrak moved out and the freight trains stopped coming. The signs were taken down and the station fell into disrepair.

One day they took it apart and moved it across the street to the park before building a new mixed use retail residential transportation development on the site. Then they completely restored it and moved it back to its original location and turned it into an excellent restaurant. Now it lives on, better than before.

This view is my favorite however: on a quiet summer day, with passengers waiting patiently for the afternoon train.