The Midnight Train Depot Move • Long Beach Post

This Wednesday evening, join Walk Long Beach as they walk alongside the historic Southern Pacific Railroad Depot as it is relocated to its new home at Willow Springs Park.


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Before becoming synonymous with the automobile, Los Angeles once boasted the largest streetcar system in the world. Over 900 trollies shuttled residents and visitors across 11,000 miles of track, with manystops in a then-booming Long Beach. The Southern Pacific Railroad Depot was one of these stops. As new residents came from all over the mid-west and elsewhere to Long Beach, the depot was their first impression of their new hometown.depot_beforeandafter

The station, built in the first part of the twentieth century, has seen better days. Its Mission revival style was quite popular at the time as it recalled images of historic California Missions that were popularized by the novel Ramona and seen on postcards and advertisements throughout the country. But with the Pacific Electric Railroad opening a base near the Pike, ridership on the Pacific Railroad Depot continuously slipped and the station eventually seized operations. The building lay idle until it was moved-for the first time-in 1936 to be used by the city as a research facility. The building was vacated a few years ago and fell victim to further neglect and vandalism.

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depot_currentThe future of the building was looking bleak when the city sold the land from underneath the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, putting the fate and safety of the depot in the hands of a new owner. However, when the City’s Office of Sustainability was tasked to develop a community center for the recently opened Willow Springs Park, they saw that the Depot could be a good fit for this use. Not only is the building an ideal size for the desired community center, its historic context will compliment the interpretive and educational programing relating to local transportation history.   Willow Springs Park is also located along a railroad route, which historically travelled down California Avenue past the depot’s original location.

After exploring the possibility of relocating the building with JR Van Dijs, a Long Beach based construction management company specializing in adaptive reuse and historical rehabilitation, and We Are The Next, a local nonprofit focusing on sustainability in heritage conservation, prep work for the move began.

raildepot_collage_001The progress has been going on for 3 weeks, with the roof and tower being temporarily disassembled to make the move more efficient. These pieces are already waiting with the new foundation at Willow Springs Park. On January 28 at 10:00pm, the main body of the building will drive through the streets of Long Beach to reach its final destination. To ensure that the building stays structurally intact, it will be lowered on the new foundation over a period of days.

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Walk Long Beach is asking participants to meet at the original depot site, 1475 San Francisco Ave, at 9:45pm, with the move to begin at 10pm. Walkers are requested to walk at least fifteen feet in front of or behind the depot at all times, and not directly next to it. In order to make sure all goes smoothly, we need to ensure there is no risk of CHP feeling concerned over pedestrian safety and stopping the move as a precaution. For more information, or to RSVP, please visit the organizers of this event:

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