When Metro inaugurated Los Angeles’ first heavy rail subway in the late 1990s, most of its stations west of downtown opened with spacious above-ground plazas that were for the most part, incredibly dull spaces. The Wilshire/Western station plaza once shared its block of Western Avenue with a large parking lot, as seen above.
Thankfully, Metro has been generally successful at promoting high-density, transit-oriented development above its rail stations, usually on Metro-owned land. Such projects, in all likelihood, would never have risen had it not been for the presence of heavy rail transit. The Solair, a 22-story condominium tower, opened above the Wilshire/Western Purple Line station in mid-2009, and includes sidewalk retail spaces along the full block of Western Avenue between Wilshire and 6th Street.
The 2010 photograph also reflects some of the changes that have taken place at Metro in the past decade, including a system-wide design overhaul and an increased commitment towards cyclists. A few of the station’s bike lockers and bike racks are visible above.
As a final note, I would also like to put together then and now shots picturing the original plazas at the Wilshire/Vermont and Hollywood/Vine stations, but I haven’t been able to track down decent photographs. If you own such photos, I would love to use them for the blog. You will of course be fully credited for your work.
The Solair on Curbed [Curbed LA]
Original photo: “Wilshire-Western station.” 1996. Metro Transportation Library and Archive on Flickr. Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library and Archive at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. http://www.flickr.com/photos/metrolibraryarchive/2943248635/in/set-72157619605732870/.