Union Station

Downtown Los Angeles & Boyle Heights

Built on the site of LA’s original Chinatown, Union Station opened in 1939 as America’s last grand rail station. It’s a glamorous exercise in Mission Revival style with art deco and American Indian accents. The marble-floored main hall, with cathedral ceilings, original leather chairs and 3000-pound chandeliers, is breathtaking. The station's Traxx Bar was once the telephone room, complete with operator to place customers' calls. The LA Conservancy runs 2½-hour walking tours of the station on Saturdays at 10am (book online).

The tiled twin domes north of the station belong to the Terminal Annex, once LA’s central post office before it was closed and later reopened as an active postal branch. This is where Charles Bukowski worked, inspiring his 1971 novel Post Office.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Downtown Los Angeles & Boyle Heights attractions

1. Old Plaza

0.12 MILES

El Pueblo’s central, magnolia-shaded square is crowned by a pretty wrought-iron gazebo. Sleepy and a little sketchy during the week, it often turns into a…

2. Avila Adobe

0.13 MILES

The oldest surviving house in LA was built in 1818 by wealthy ranchero and one-time LA mayor Francisco José Avila. After subsequent lives as a boarding…

4. Olvera Street

0.15 MILES

The block-long, pedestrianized 'birthplace of Los Angeles' (circa 1781) may now be a festive Mexican marketplace with gaudy decorations and souvenir…

5. Plaza Firehouse

0.16 MILES

The city’s oldest fire station (1884) is now a one-room museum filled with dusty old fire-fighting equipment and photographs.

6. América Tropical Interpretive Center

0.17 MILES

Everyone from Hollywood stars to LA intellectuals attended the 1932 unveiling of América Tropical, a rooftop mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros, one of…

7. Italian American Museum of Los Angeles

0.17 MILES

Aptly located inside Italian Hall – built in 1908 as a social hub for the area's Italian community – this small, interactive museum sheds light on the oft…

8. Chinese American Museum

0.18 MILES

Follow the red lanterns to the small 1890 Garnier Building, once the unofficial Chinatown ‘city hall'. Changing exhibits highlight various historical,…