Union Station, In Transition

Update: The train shed out back has undergone a dramatic renovation, having been converted into a convention center and a new aquarium. The hotel, including the Grand Hall, has been dramatically re-envisioned.

I went by Union Station to check out the renovations to the train shed; the hotel is taking over a portion of the Midway (the long thoroughfare where travelers once accessed train platforms) for additional meeting rooms.

Chicago, Hyde Park, Union Station and Wainwright Building 026

As can be seen below, the work has already begun; I support this, as there is no reason to have such a large area of the train shed sit empty.

Chicago, Hyde Park, Union Station and Wainwright Building 027

Back in the day, there was a giant glass window that shielded people from the grit of the train shed, but it supposedly was sold off for scrap during World War II.

Chicago, Hyde Park, Union Station and Wainwright Building 028

I’m still amazed by the Great Hall, with its incredible decoration; the renovation should keep this hotel as a great showpiece for visitors to St. Louis. I think that converting the entire train shed into a convention center, freeing up valuable downtown real estate, would be a great idea.

Chicago, Hyde Park, Union Station and Wainwright Building 034

Just look at this ornamentation! What a special place to have here in St. Louis.

Chicago, Hyde Park, Union Station and Wainwright Building 035

Just for the heck of it, I finally looked up the Sanborn maps for the station, and they are impressive:

North Union Station South Union Station

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Very curious to see what is still to come for this big, beautiful piece of St. Louis history. I don’t foresee a time when Amtrak is willing to return to the trainshed, but hopefully at some point it can be fully utilized for local commuter heavy-rail (think Illinoisans arriving via the McArthur and McKinley Bridges). I’m not too proud to take Chicago’s secondhand Metra fleet as they upgrade…

    I kind of bounced some ideas around in a post last year. A little kitschy, admittedly, but at least it puts the train shed back into active use rather than another damnable parking lot (“Transitioning the Trainshed — A New Vision for Union Station”).

  2. Tom Maher - Kirkwood says:

    Going into Union Station when I was a little kid in the ’40s was like walking into what I thought a palace must have appeared.
    The same feeling occurred some years later, when taking dates to the BIG shows on Grand or Downtown (coming from the humble Osage and Kirkwood theaters in my hometown of Kirkwood).

  3. Jan says:

    I was first smitten with Union Station as a little girl in the 60’s when we took my grandparents there to get train tickets for a trip. I was in awe of the greatness I was viewing and of course, it wasn’t in the best shape back then and my parents hurried me out. I can never get enough of Union Station!

  4. Justin Myhren says:

    Union Station is an exquisite building. I hear that Bob McLoughlin is planning on bringing train travel back, and focusing his attention more toward trains, and that of its origin.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Yes, I had the opportunity to see the most recent renovations, and actually wrote an article for Sound and Communication magazine about the Grand Hall Experience.

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