Pomona College Magazine
Volume 41. No. 1.
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Ride the Metrolink to downtown Los Angeles.

New Yorkers are used to sardine subways, but it takes a little extra to coax Angelinos out of their cars. The Metrolink system—only a dozen years old—whisks suburbanites downtown aboard modern, double-decker trains.

The Claremont station is only a few blocks from campus. Choose a seat on the top deck and you can look down—literally and figuratively—on all those commuters stuck in traffic. It takes less than an hour to reach Union Station in downtown L.A.

From the train, you’ll get a view of Southern California to burst all your la-la land illusions. The scene is more gritty than pretty as you whiz past a world of corrugated metal roofs and humble post-war tract homes. Arriving at Union Station, however, may revive your California fantasies. Sociology Professor Emeritus Robert Herman notes that train stations in other U.S. cities mimicked government buildings or royal palaces, to evoke the importance of the railroads.

“In contrast, L.A.’s Union Station with its lavish color, soft light and beautiful flower garden waiting areas, represents Southern California rather than the railroads serving it,” he writes in his book, Downtown Los Angeles: A Walking Guide. “Spanish tiles, great rounded arches, richly patterned floors and wood-toned interiors suggest a warm welcome for the arriving passenger and the promise of a new beginning—a new life.”
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