Metro finally broke ground on the first phase of the Purple Line Extension this past November, which means we'll have subterranean heavy rail down to La Cienega, with stops at Fairfax and La Brea, come 2023. We're finally on our way to the mythical "subway to the sea," but it's been a long time coming; stations at Fairfax and La Brea were actually planned back when the Southern California Rapid Transit District was drawing up the Red Line in the Eighties. A methane gas explosion at a Ross Dress for Less in the Fairfax district gave recently-retired congressman Henry Waxman the chance to strongarm the SCRTD into halting westward expansion, leaving the city with the Purple Line nub we have today.
Renderings were drawn up (literally–this was before AutoCAD) for a number of stations that never went anywhere. The first stop further west would have been at Wilshire/Crenshaw, which was considered but ultimately passed on for today's Purple Line extension.
The Wilshire/La Brea station was at one point just a station, and then a massive subterranean joint development.
The Wilshire/Fairfax stop would have gone across Wilshire from LACMA—right where Zumthor's blob is set to sit.
Another spectacular joint development-and-station was lost at Hollywood/Cahuenga. Today, the corner is home to Greco's pizzeria and a check cashing joint.
There were also some more fanciful plans, such as an aerial alignment through Hollywood.
A few years later, with the Wilshire line still in their sights, the SCRTD dreamed up plans for more aerial alignment that would have made stops at Wilshire/La Brea...
and Wilshire/Fairfax. (RIP Johnie's)
Metro keeps an enormous library of photos cataloging the history of Los Angeles transit on their official Flickr page. Anyone curious about the long, strange history of our growing rail system should read Ethan Elkind's Railtown, a supremely well-researched book that makes plain just how hard it is to get anything political done these days.—Ian Grant