Locations of Film, Television, and Soon, My Novel- Part 4. By Tony Piazza


A continuation of my visit to film and television locations in the Los Angeles area as a means to “walk the walk” of my novel’s characters and bring realism to my storytelling. This week, The Union Station.



Union Station with William Holden (1950)

Union Station isn’t in my next book for a very good reason- it wasn’t opened until 1939. The sequel to Anything Short of Murder ( let’s call it Tom Logan’s adventure #2) is set in 1931, one year after my reader’s first introduction to this hardboiled  Hollywood detective. Union Station’s predecessor however, La Grande Station will play a major role in the conclusion of the novel. La Grande was the main passenger terminal in Los Angeles for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe until the opening of Union Station. The final years of La Grande Station was spent in a dismal state after the Long Beach earthquake of 1933. The station occupied an area located at 2nd Street and Santa Fe Ave., and after the completion of the new station was demolished.

 Exterior of Union Station

In 1926 a measure was put on the ballot in Los Angeles which offered an option to consolidate the different railroad terminals or construct a network of elevated railways. The former won, and Union Station was born.


Sign outside of Union Station

The location chosen for Union Station was in the heart of the original Chinatown, and a narrow vote of 51 to 48 percent permitted the demolishing of  a large part of this section to build the station. Its official address today is 800 North Alameda Street, across from what was the original center of Los Angeles, the pueblo, referred today as Olvera Street.

 Looking west towards entrance

The architects John and Donald Parkinson who’d also designed Los Angeles City Hall were partially responsible for Union Station’s design. They were assisted by Jan van der Linden and other supporting architects that combined Dutch Colonial Revival, Streamline Moderne, and Mission Revival to give the station its’ unique look.

 Closer look at detailing on ceiling of waiting area

The interior walls are divided into two parts; the upper originally early acoustic tile is now being replaced with cork, and the lower travertine marble. The floor is terra cotta with a strip of marble that runs down the center.

 Waiting area looking east. Restaurant is in foreground. 

There are two gardens of either side of the waiting room, and attached to the main building on the south side is a restaurant (now closed) that was the last of the Fred Harvey Restaurant chain and designed by famed southwestern architect Mary Colter.

 Fountain in garden north of waiting area.

In 1980 Union Station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Harvey Restaurant, Union Station postcard (courtesy Harvey House Fan site) 


 Wing off from the waiting area used in Scarecrow courtroom scene in the film, The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Although smaller than the other Union Stations, this Los Angeles cousin stands tall amongst the tall palms of Southern California having been seen by countless millions on film and television over the years. Here are just a few:


 Them! with James Whitmore & James Arness


Union Station (1950) with William Holden and Nancy Olson.

Southside 1-1000 (1950) with Don Defore and Andrea King.

Them! (1954) with James Whitmore and Joan Weldon.

The Hustler (1961) with Paul Newman and Piper Laurie

Silver Streak (1976) with Gene Wilder and Jill Clayburg

Blade Runner (1982) with Harrison Ford and Sean Young

Star Trek: First Contact (1996) with Patrick Stewart and Alice Krige

 Pearl Harbor (2001) with Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) with Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway

 The Dark Knight Rises (2012)


Quantum Leap (1989) with Scott Bakula

 24 (2001) with Kiefer Sutherland

 Alias (2006) with Jennifer Garner

 NCIS: Los Angeles (2009) with Chris O’Donnell

 Castle (2009) with Nathan Fillion


Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Every corner you turn in Los Angeles gives you this feeling of déjà vu, and no more so than this historic station which was a pleasure to visit and share with you today.


Look for the new Tom Logan mystery coming in 2013


Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His next novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was released early 2012 and is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden.  His non-fiction e-book “Bullitt Points” is an in depth look at the making of “Bullitt” from a person who was there. Look for it where fine books are sold, or at the link posted below. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity: www.bullittpoints.com.









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16 Responses to “Locations of Film, Television, and Soon, My Novel- Part 4. By Tony Piazza”

  1. cookie curci says:

    this is so fascinating.. the station looks like a church, or a grand theater… what a building… how fun this is to see landmarks and lesser known buildings that were used in films… thank you.. love to see more,,much more.
    cookie curci

    • tonypiazza says:

      It is a fascinating building filled with so much history. Just sitting there we were thinking of all the celebrities, film crews, politicians, historical figures, etc. that had walked across the waiting room or rushed along the tunnels to catch their train. It really sparked my imagination. We also took a sleeper on the train- not as spacious (not even close) to those you see in films- that incidentally goes for ship cabins as well. Take care, and thank you as always, Cookie, for your support!

  2. Cherley says:

    Thanks for the walk through Union Station. I really enjoyed it and I will share it after I get on my laptop.

  3. tonypiazza says:

    Thank you, Cherley. It was exciting visiting and experiencing it firsthand. Don’t miss it if you ever come to California.

  4. Lew Osteen says:

    Another nice slice of memorbilia Tony. Love the Steve McQueen novella and got a nice thank you from The Boys Ranch. Lew

    • tonypiazza says:

      Thank you so much again, Lew. I appreciate you going the “extra mile” for the boys and thank you for the feedback on the e-book. This project was done on all levels from the heart. Once again I appreciate your support and comments.

  5. Lilian Gafni says:

    Great photos from the past.

  6. Wow, Tony, thank you. Your website is so interesting. I love reading about your experiences in movies and TV, as well as the history of Los Angeles and the movie business. And the photos are wonderful.

    • tonypiazza says:

      Thank you, Wanda for all your support.

    • Marilu says:

      the thing i love about union station, is that when you look down that long coordir (i’m thinking where you took the shot actually) you can see the dip marks where the benches used to be, where years and years peoples’ feet would swing. it’s like looking back to the past, ghost world almost.and the ceiling? spectacular.-sadie

      • tonypiazza says:

        Hi Sadie,
        Thank you so much for the comment. I appreciate you taking the time to read my post.
        Tony Piazza

  7. I am looking forward to reading Anything Short of Murder. I wrote earlier, but your “walk the talk”, and showing the old pictures is “right down my alley.” I enjoy TCM movies, the stories, and the actors, especially private eyes and mysteries…

    • tonypiazza says:

      Hi Diane,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate the feedback. I’m a nostalgia guy, and enjoy stepping back into the past. My novels reflect that. I’m more than halfway through the sequel to “Anything Short of Murder” and having great fun writing it…it is my escape, and hopefully my reader’s too. As I speak, I have another blog on L.A. ready to go up. Please watch for it. I hope you do get a hold of “Anything Short of Murder”- it is my salute to noir, Chandler, Hammett, and old Hollywood(land).
      All the best,
      Tony Piazza

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