St. Louis Union StationEdit profile
St. Louis Union Station, a National Historic Landmark, is a passenger train terminal in St. Louis, Missouri. Once the world's largest and busiest train station, it was converted in the early 1980s into a luxury hotel, shopping center, and entertainment complex. Today, it is one of the city's major tourist attractions and serves only local rail (Metro) transit passengers.History
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 (47,000 m2) 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 (20 m) barrel-vaulted ceiling and stained-glass windows. The clock tower is 280 feet (85 m) high.
Union Station's headhouse and midway are constructed of Indiana limestone and initially included 42 tracks under its vast trainshed terminating in the stub-end terminal.
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 erroneous Chicago 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 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.Renovations
In August 1985, after a $150 million renovation, Union Station was reopened with a 539-room hotel, shopping mall, restaurants and food court. Federal historic rehabilitation tax credits were used to transform Union Station into one of the city's most visited attractions. The station rehabilitation by Conrad Schmitt Studios remains one of the largest adaptive re-use projects in the United States. The hotel is housed in the headhouse and part of the train shed, which also houses a lake and shopping, entertainment and dining establishments. Omni was the original hotel operator, followed by Hyatt Regency Hotel chain and now Marriott Hotels as of December 2008.
Some architectural elements from the building have been removed in renovations and taken to the Sauget, Illinois storage site of the St. Louis Building Arts Foundation.
In January 2010, St. Louis Union Station is under major redevelopment with the expansion of the station's Marriott Hotel in the main terminal building. The hotel will take over the Midway area of the station and all stores have been relocated to the train shed shopping arcade. These major improvements and redevelopments will be finished by 2011 according to Marriott St. Louis Union Station.Transportation
MetroLink, the St. Louis light rail mass transit system, serves Union Station from its station directly below the trainshed in the Union Station subway tunnel. The St. Louis Union Station serves the Red Line and Blue Line.
It takes about 30 minutes to travel to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport's East and Main Terminals via the Metro Red Line.MegaBus service
Megabus provides express intercity bus service to Memphis, Tennessee, Kansas City, Missouri and Chicago from Union Station.Taxis
St. Louis Union Station has 24-hour taxi service at its north entrance on Market Street.
Approximate travel time by taxi, non-rush hour:
- Downtown St. Louis hotels: 5–8 minutes
- St. Louis International Airport: 25–30 minutes
- MidAmerica St. Louis Airport: 30 minutes
- Gateway Arch/Laclede's Landing: 8 minutes
- America's Center/Convention Center: 8–10 minutes
- Midtown/Theatre District: 12 minutes
- Central West End: 10–15 minutes
- Clayton Business District: 15 minutes
The city's major transportation hub station, Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center is located next to Union Station. It serves the city's rail system and regional bus system MetroBus, Greyhound, Amtrak and city taxi services.Filming
In 1981, the disused Grand Hall was used in John Carpenter's movie Escape from New York, doubling for Madison Square Garden during the film's gladiatorial fight.Photo gallery
Union Station about 1909.
Grand Hall, from a postcard mailed in 1909.
Grand Hall in 2007.
The station now serves as a hotel and shopping complex.
A Red Line MetroLink tram leaves Union Station.