Original Blue Line Train Officially City of Long Beach Property with Hopes to Turn It Into a ‘New Kind of Public Space’

Photo above courtesy of Mayor Robert Garcia. 

Updated: September 28, 2017

It’s official: the first train to ever be part of Metro Los Angeles (Metro)’s transit system—the precise one pictured above that went from DTLA to DTLB in 1990— is now officially the property of the City of Long Beach after Mayor Robert Garcia proposed the train being returned to Long Beach.

And that means we are one step closer to realizing Garcia’s hopes for the train, originally dubbed the Long Beach 100: a permanent home that will be part of a new type of public space.

The Blue Line is a transit corridor rich with history: originally part of the Pacific Electric red car railway, which opened in 1902, the use of the right-of-way was given to Metro in 1961 and operated as a bus line. But on July 14 of 1990, the right-of-way was turned into what would become one of the nation’s most ridden light rail, the $877M Blue Line, since then connecting DTLA to DTLB and everywhere in between.

His plans were initially revolving around a restaurant or a museum or “maybe both.” Now, Garcia says the train will be renovated and repainted back to its original red, white, and blue colors while the search for where to put it starts.

His initial thoughts? Take it to the strip of 1st Street between Elm and Long Beach Blvd., infamously known as a dead stretch next to the East Village because it is a strip of street that sits between towering parking structures.

“Basically it would become a pedestrian plaza if the plans in my head go forward as I’m hoping they will,” Garcia said. “The train will be smack-dab in the middle of the street; maybe one section can be a restaurant and another can be a museum, and so forth. Either way, it will activate the street while providing the community a new form of public space. These are all tentative right now but we’re on the right path. It’s going to be a new kind of public space.”

Tentative or otherwise, it’s awesome.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food to politics to urban transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 12 nominations and an additional win for Best Political Commentary. Born in Big Bear, he has lived in Long Beach since college. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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