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June 2000 - Metro Red Line Subway Completed to North Hollywood

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North Hollywood Metro Line Train in Motion
A North Hollywood-bound Metro Red Line train leaves the Hollywood/Highland station, circa 2004. | Photo: Elson Trinidad

On June 24, 2000, the long-awaited 17-mile Metro Red Line subway project was finally completed, bridging the longtime geographical, topographical, and cultural divide between the San Fernando Valley and the Los Angeles basin.

Though the subway route was originally conceived in the 1970s, funded in the early 1980s, commenced construction in 1986, and initially opened in 1993 (with additional segments completed in 1996 (Wilshire segment) and 1999 (Hollywood)), its 2000 completion to North Hollywood finally silenced the naysayers who derided the Metro Rail subway as the "train to nowhere." For it not only zipped commuters between Union Station and North Hollywood in 27 minutes sans automobile, but it finally reached tourist attractions (Hollywood Boulevard, Universal Studios, cultural attractions (the Music Center and the Hollywood Bowl -- albeit by shuttle), the ethnic enclaves of Pico-Union, Westlake, Koreatown, Thai Town, and Little Armenia, and emerging arts districts in North Hollywood and downtown L.A.

But the subway's effect on the city was not only reflected in the places the subway was built to access, but the places that were built to access the subway. The term "Transit-Oriented Development" soon became part of the urban vernacular, and corridors like Lankershim Boulevard, Ventura Boulevard, Hollywood Boulevard, Cahuenga Boulevard, and Vine Street became new hotspots of commerce and development, from apartment and condominium dwellings, to restaurants and large and small retail stores.

The subway's completion to North Hollywood not only indirectly boosted ridership on Metro's other rail lines, but also spurred the 2005 opening of the connecting Metro Orange Line, an east-west bus rapid transit route touted for its relatively low cost and fast construction time, which connects with the subway at the North Hollywood station. Today, the subway carries an average of over 150,000 riders each weekday, and its Wilshire Boulevard branch, now known as the Metro Purple Line, is currently being extended toward Westwood.

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