‘Harvey Girls’ Changed the West: See Film at Union Station

Metro’s Saturday event to includes vintage western wear fashion show.

By EGP Staff Report

Union Station 75th anniversary celebration continues this Saturday with a free movie premier and vintage western wear fashion show in the historic train station’s Fred Harvey Room.

Headlining the event is the new documentary “The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound,” an inside look at how more than 100,000 rail station waitresses changed history by opening the doors of the American West to women.

From the 1880s to the 1960s, “Harvey Girls,” as the women came to be known, worked at railroad restaurants and hotels operated by the Fred Harvey Company, including a restaurant at Union Station open from 1939 to 1967.

“In the 1880s, it was a radical innovation to employ women as waitresses on a large scale and send them west,” said “Harvey Girls” executive producer Katrina Parks. “For women, it was an amazing opportunity to be independent. You could leave home, explore the American West and live in protected circumstances while earning enough money to send back to your family.”

In 1946, MGM brought the Harvey Girl’s story to the big screen in a motion picture of the same name staring actress Judy Garland of “The Wizard of Oz” fame.

“Opportunity Bound’s” filmmakers say their documentary takes a deeper look at “this important part of America’s history” by “using the voices of those closest to them, including rare interviews with the few remaining Harvey Girls and author and expert on Fred Harvey, Stephen Fried.”

The May 31 film screening and fashion show are being held in conjunction with Metro Presents, the agency’s ongoing program of arts and cultural events at the iconic station.

“Our plan with this ongoing series is to activate the various grand spaces of Union Station in creative ways so people have the chance to keep rediscovering this special L.A. place and experience it in new ways,” said Maya Emsden, Deputy Executive Officer in Metro Countywide Planning.

There will be a Q & A session with the filmmakers and former Harvey Girl, Hilda Velarde Salas, who is featured in the documentary, following the movie. Historic artifacts from Women in Railroading also will be on display, according to Metro.

While seating is limited, Metro notes customers who show a TAP cards at check-in will have access to preferential seating. Food is allowed, but Metro says no alcoholic beverages will be permitted. Coffee, hot chocolate, water and snacks will be available for purchase at the event (cash only).

Box dinners can be also be pre-ordered from Traxx Restaurant at Union Station and customers who show a valid TAP card, Metro employee ID or LA County employee ID will get a 10% discount. To pre-order box dinners, contact Traxx at (213) 625-1999.

Program begins at 7:15 with the fashion show; followed by the film at 8pm.

Union Station is accessible via Metro Rail, Metro Bus and several municipal bus lines. Use the Trip Planner at metro.net for routes and connections. Car and bicycle parking are also available on site. For more details go to metro.net/discounts.

For more information about the film, visit harveygirlsdocumentary.com.

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May 29, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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