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Hollywood/Highland – Red Line vs. Red Carpet

February 22, 2009

Hollywood/Highland

Riding the Red Line to NoHo on Friday, I received an unpleasant reminder of the impending Academy Awards. Our train stopped at Hollywood and Highland, and the driver announced that this station would be closed Sunday Afternoon on account of the award ceremony. The Oscars are LA’s moment in the national spotlight, and in true LA style, the elite who put on the event act as if everyone else in the city doesn’t exist.

For the denizens of central LA, who view subways and transit as a more viable if not entirely practical option, the irony of the event is not unappreciated: while multitudes of Americans repeat to themselves the line about LA being a car-only city, thousands of people will be traveling directly underneath the Kodak theater by subway. And the subway seems to be gaining cultural acceptance in the city; this week, the L.A. weekly ran an article about a twenty-four piece orchestra who gave performances in the city’s subway stations. and the City Beat’s nightlife columnist wrote about his exploits on the MTA. To the train riding public, the relative proximity of the Hollywood/Vine station makes the closure of the Hollywood/Highland station little more than a nuisance. And from a practical standpoint, it would be extremely difficult to keep the station open; the Oscars take up a lot of space, and there’s only one exit to the station. In the future, the station may not even have to close. There are tentative plans to build a second subway to Hollywood/Highland, which could potentially include a second entrance.

But the station closure is still a symbolic snub. The Red Line, despite its troubled construction history, has been relatively successful with daily ridership at 140,000. Of the people who ride the Red Line, blogger Mitch Glaser writes:

When I ride the Red Line, I perceive a sense of egalitarianism and democracy communicated through the remarkable diversity of the subway’s passengers. It has become a microcosm of the metropolis itself.

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If the Red Line is indeed a microcosm of Los Angeles, the closing of Hollywood/Highland is an indication of the film industry’s disdain for its own city. The workings of the studios are the embodiment of favoritism and back-door dealings, the antithesis of subway egalitarianism. But we can take comfort in the fact that despite this one day of Red Line closure, we have 364 days in which it is still open for business. And we can be thankful that the film industry’s reluctance to integrate itself into the rest of the city means that there are plenty of interesting places around town that are relatively unspoiled by its dubious practices.

So as the overdressed actresses ramble above, the subways continue to rumble below. The riders may have been inconvenienced, but life goes on.

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