View restored footage of Union Station's 1939 opening parade

Only Known Footage of Union Station Opening, Shot by Ward Kimball
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For the first time since it was shot in 1939, footage from Union Station's opening parade has been released and posted to the Oscars' YouTube channel.

Vintage cars, a locomotive train and thousands of spectators line the Union Station opening parade route.  The parade drew in a third of L.A.'s population downtown, Metro spokesperson Kim Upton said. For viewers, it was a sign that "Los Angeles has arrived," she said.

"Metro was looking around for bits and pieces about Union Station [for its 75th anniversary]," said Upton. "Someone told me they they had heard there was a movie of Union Station opening. They weren't sure if it existed." 

RELATED: LA's Union Station at 75: A look back at the landmark's history

It did. The home movie, housed at the Academy Film Archive, was shot in 1939 by Ward Kimball, a railway enthusiast and animator who created iconic Disney characters like Jiminy Cricket, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and the seven dwarves. 

 But, after decades in storage, the movie wasn't in great condition. 

"It was 75 years old; it needed restoration," Upton said.

The Academy restored the original 16mm kodachrome film and then made a digital copy, said May Haduong, public access manager with the Academy Film Archive. 

"You rarely get to peek back into history from 75 years ago and get a sense of your town and what people were seeing at that point," said Haduong. "I guess you also get to be part of the celebration. You're in the audience, you're celebrating something that would be part of history."

The footage is now available online as part of Union Station's 75th anniversary through a collaboration between Metro and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in cooperation with Kimball's family. 

Alongside National Train Day, Metro plans to celebrate the iconic station’s birthday on May 3, the same day Kimball shot the video 75 years ago.

"Here we are again, 75 years later," Upton said.

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