In Washington, Union Station is the main Railway Station. It was built from 1907-1908 to become the new terminal for the Pennsylvania, Ohio and Baltimore Railroads. This new terminal would become the main gateway to the capital of the USA for the next 4 decades.
Daniel Burnham, an architect from Chicago, designed this beautiful building to with a popular neoclassicist style known as the Beaux-Arts style. This style became popular during the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He constructed a grand, 182m long building; making it the largest train station in the world.
The central archway was based on the impressive Arch of Constantine in Rome. It leads to the main hall with a 29m or 96 feet high ceiling that is barrel-vaulted. There is delicate gold leaf detailing that decorates this coffered ceiling. Additional costly material such as granite and marble were used. The entire cost for the building is in the expansive range of $125 million dollars.
The Station’s Heyday
During its heyday, Union Station was the central transportation hub for Washington. Every single day, it serviced over 100,000 passengers. There was even a Presidential Suite on site. This was first used in 1909 by Taft. President Eisenhower was the last of the 17 presidents to utilize the suite.
Once air travel became more popular in the 1950s, there was a significant decline in the railway station. It had become too large and was taking up space. In the 1970s, there was an attempt to turn it into a visitor’s center; however, that did not work out. The building had deteriorated so much by this point that certain parts of the roof began to cave in. The authorities with the Railroad and Congress debated on whether or not to renovate or demolish Union Station. In 1981, fortunately a joint private and public venture was set up and the building was restored.
In 1988, Union Station was reopened once again. It has become a retail hotspot for shopping and also serves as a train station. There are more than 100 stores and an impressive food court. The Washington Union Station is situated close to the US Supreme Court and not far from the US Capitol. It sits on Capitol Hill.