What's My (MTA) Line? A Tale of Two Names


L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina's proposal to christen the stretch of the Gold Line that cuts through the mostly Latino Eastside  "Linea de Oro" met with the reality of all cultural politics in this city and emerged with a cumbersome, but bilingual moniker. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, on which Molina sits, decided the line will be known by two names -- one English, the other, Spanish. The first, "Edward R. Roybal Metro Gold Line," honors the city's first modern-era Mexican American Congressman. The second name, "La Linea de Oro, Edward R. Roybal," pleases backers of a Latino-centric name for the light rail extension. (Ironically, the Eastside is the one place in the city that is dominated by Anglo-Saxon street names.)

Prediction: No one will call it either and just refer to it as the Gold Line. (Or, perhaps over the years kids will mangle the Spanish version into "Lenny Doro.")

Writing on the urban-planning blog Four Story, Gary Phillips relates another naming story he calls "The Unbearable Lightness of Rail." Going back to 2004, he explains how his elderly aunt was affected by Dorsey High School's planned outward expansion -- she stood to lose her South L.A. home through an eminent domain buyout. It turned out, however, that the all-powerful MTA would not allow any encroachment upon its light rail tracks -- forcing Dorsey's campus expansion upward

At that time the proposed line running from Downtown

to Culver City and beyond was to be called the Aqua Line -- with Purple

Line as a possible alternative. That, however, sent City Councilman

Bernard Parks' color wheel spinning.

"Those are colors

that don't resonate," Phillips quotes Parks as saying euphemistically.

Phillips believes Aqua and its backup, Purple, ultimately got dumped in

favor of "Expo" because "such colors had a rather fey quality about

them."

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