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See The Only Known Footage Of The 1939 Opening Of L.A.’s Union Station–Shot By A Disney Legend

Legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball also documented the opening of Union Station in Los Angeles–75 years ago.

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Ward Kimball is responsible for some of the most significant creations of Hollywood’s Golden Age: he created Jiminy Cricket for Pinnochio, the Cheshire Cat–as well as Tweedledee and Tweedledum–from Alice In Wonderland, the Crows from Dumbo, and more. But in addition to being a legendary animator, Kimball also liked to put a camera on his shoulder from time to time.

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One of those times was the day that Los Angeles’ Union Station first opened, with a massive parade that attracted over half a million people. The silent home movie that Kimball shot on May 3rd, 1939, captures (in full–albeit grainy–color) the train engines, people, and spectators behind the station’s opening. And while it’s been in the Academy Film Archive for many years, the Academy–to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the station–put the six-minute home documentary on YouTube this week.

The image of half a million people celebrating the arrival of a train certainly makes the film look like a throwback to another age, but through Kimball’s lens, it’s a fascinating peek at an otherwise-undocumented part of American history.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club

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