Saint Louis Union StationPosted: September 5, 2012
As we continue to go through the railroad associated images in our collection for scanning, I have posted some from the St. Louis Union Station. Although many of you have seen them before most don’t really know the history of this structure. First things first, here is a link to the images that we have. They are from a booklet or portfolio that was given out at the dedication of the station in 1895. Most of the images were taken prior to the station opening to allow the pictures to show the grandeur of the building without people. Here is the link:
As I looked for a history of the station, the best one that was found was on the Wikipedia site. The credit goes to them for the following bio:
“The station opened on September 1, 1894, and was owned by the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis. Designed by Theodore Link,it included three main areas: the Headhouse, the Midway and the 11.5-acre Train Shed. The headhouse originally housed a hotel, a restaurant, passenger waiting rooms and railroad ticketing offices. It featured a gold-leafed Grand Hall, Romanesque arches, a 65-foot barrel-vaulted ceiling and stained-glass windows. The Clock tower is 280 feet high.
At its height, the station combined the St. Louis passenger services of 22 railroads, the most of any single terminal in the world. At its opening, it was the world’s largest and busiest railroad station and its trainshed was the largest roof span in the world. In 1903, the station was expanded to accommodate visitors to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.
In the 1940s, it handled 100,000 passengers a day. The famous photograph of Harry S. Truman holding aloft the erroneousChicago Tribune headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman,” was shot at the station as Truman headed back to Washington, DC from Independence, Missouri after the 1948 Presidential election.
As airliners became the preferred mode of long-distance travel and railroad passenger services declined in the 1950s and 1960s, the massive station became obsolete and too expensive to maintain for its original purpose. With the takeover of national rail passenger service by Amtrak in 1971, passenger train service to St. Louis was reduced to only three trains a day. Amtrak stopped using Union Station on October 31, 1978; the six trains daily did not justify such a large facility. The last to leave Union Station was a Chicago-bound Inter-American. Passenger service shifted to an “Amshack” one block east, now the site of the Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center .”
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