Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
Celebrate its 24th birthday with a 1990 video touting "a promise delivered." And a talking owl named Travis.
On July 14, 1990, Los Angeles's Blue Line debuted, providing much-needed rail service between downtown L.A. and downtown Long Beach.
It was a big deal, perhaps even more so than the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (LACMTA) expected. Originally projected to have a daily ridership of 5,000, the Blue Line was carrying 32,000 riders a day by the end of 1990. As of last May, the system's oldest line has an average weekday ridership of 86,065.
Not surprisingly, film-savvy Los Angeles captured the Blue Line's inaugural weekend on camera.
Produced by the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission later that year (in 1993, it merged with the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD) to become LACMTA or "Metro") and preserved by Metro's Transportation Library, we can still take a look back at all the balloons and excitement.
The video also explains how the Blue Line came to be, the result of five years of construction after a proposition that saw voters approve a half-cent sales tax to fund construction.
Receiving only a very brief mention however, is "Travis the Owl," a cartoon created by the transit authority to help kids learn how to adapt to a new, street-level system.
In a separate video called "Be Rail Wise," Travis, who lives in a tree decorated with transit-related furnishings, teaches human kids not to hang out on train tracks and how to ride the system properly. Thankfully, Metro's archives has that preserved, too: