On Saturday I took a stroll through Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. It gets its name back when it was a stop and car storage area for the L.A railroad in 1875. Bergamot flowers once thrived in that area apparently. Today it is an art gallery complex, and an extremely popular art destination for visitors around the world. It hosts a wide range of paintings, photography, and sculptures that regularly change out, offering up new artists to view quite often. The site retains its industrial, train cart look while also offering a campus-like feel that houses dozens of galleries. If you want to spend an entire day seeing art, rather than driving around, then Bergamot Station is the place to go.
Bergamot Station is an example of how nothing seems to last for long in Los Angeles. Buildings are constantly being replaced and histories rewritten, resulting in a rather patchwork network of a city. Unlike great old cities such as New York, Philadelphia, or Boston, Los Angeles does not really seem to know how to preserve its history. When I think of L.A., one of the first landmarks that come to mind is the Hollywood Sign—a not-so-original object that’s had its share of re-purposing and alterations. I like Bergamot Station for this reason. It has changed so much with L.A., yet it still retains some of its original character. It is built from historical artifacts only to be remade with a new purpose that better serves Los Angeles’s current needs. It has been a car storage station, celery-packing plant, ice-making plant, water heater plant, and was planning on becoming a light rail station until it became an art gallery complex in 1994. The City of Santa Monica had Wayne Blank of the Shoshana Wayne Gallery and acclaimed architect Lawrence Scarpa develop an artistic use for the industrial site after the rail plans started to fall apart. It fit right in with L.A.’s blossoming art culture. I wonder what L.A. will require from the Station next.