October 3, 2014

Historic Train Stations (As Seen on Instagram)

  • By: Grant Stevens
Detail of Union Station in Washington, D.C.

photo by: Joseph Readdy, Flickr

Detail of Union Station in Washington, D.C.

For a long time, I tried to deny it, but it’s probably time to fess up: I’m kind of a train nerd. Or at least I’m turning into one. I didn’t grow up around trains, but they have always fascinated me. I have vivid memories of visiting the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad (pictured below) in elementary school and taking Amtrak from Iowa to New Mexico to get to Philmont Scout Ranch during high school.

In the last year, however, I think I’ve really realized my train nerd status. I’ve had the opportunity to travel through some beautiful train stations and several of our National Treasures projects have connections to trains. The Pullman Historic District in Chicago is home to the Pullman Palace Car; Washington, D.C.’s Union Station (where we did behind-the-scenes tours last May) is planning for a large expansion; and Cincinnati’s Union Terminal, an Art Deco masterpiece, needs public assistance to serve another generation of visitors.

I’m in Cincinnati right now, in fact, working on an exciting project for Union Terminal. (We’ll have a big announcement about that next week.) In the meantime, enjoy these photos of beautiful train stations from Instagram!

#TheCenteronVaca One of my traveling gnome photos! #boone #booneiowa #boonescenicvalley #trains #railroad #booneandscenicrailway

The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad and James. H. Andrew Museum allows visitors to hop aboard the tourist line railroad, which travels 15 miles through the beautiful Des Moines River Valley. My suggestion: Make an evening of it and take the 2 hour and fifteen minute Dinner Train on a beautiful 1950 steamliner!

Denver's newly-refurbished train station is worth checking out even if you're not taking a train. #unionstationdenver

I completely agree with Loren’s comment -- Denver’s Union Station is worth visiting, even if you’re not taking a train. The station reopened in July 2014 after a massive restoration and redevelopment project. It now is a multi-modal transportation hub, including freight travel, Amtrak, Denver Light Rail, and buses.

Classic Concourse

In 1968, a proposal was released to radically alter New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, removing the facade and main waiting remove (pictured above). The plan drew wide opposition, including from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who said, “Is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud monuments, until there will be nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children?"

LA Union Station...opened in May 1939 as the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, replacing the older La Grande Station and Central Station. One of a number of union stations built in the early 1900s, it served trains from the Union Pacific, Santa Fe, and Southern Pacific Railways. Conceived on a grand scale, Union Station became known as "Last of the Great Railway Stations" built in the United States. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. #dayinla #locallandmark #losangeles #architecture #launionstation

Union Station in Los Angeles recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. My favorite part? It’s a tie between the enclosed garden patios on either side of the waiting room and the ceiling of the waiting room (pictured above), which has the appearance of wood but is actually made of steel.

Omaha Union Station

Above the entrance to Omaha’s Union Station, it says, “No other improvement ... can equal in utility the railroad. -- Abraham Lincoln, March 9, 1832.” This Art Deco beauty is now home to the Durham Museum, which focuses on the history of the western United States.


The Hamlet Station in Hamlet, North Carolina, has quite the history. Between 2001 and 2004 the entire Queen Anne-style station house was moved across a set of tracks for safety, and converted into a museum by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. It continues to serve as an Amtrak Station.

#stl #stlouis #architecture #unionstation #unionstationstl

St. Louis Union Station is where the famous photograph of Harry S. Truman holding the incorrect Chicago Tribune headline "Dewey Defeats Truman" was taken. Truman was headed back to Washington, D.C. from Independence, Missouri, after the 1948 Presidential election.

Walking back to the office after lunch. #UnionStationDC #arches #LookingWest

One of my favorite National Treasure projects is Union Station in Washington, D.C. The barrel-vaulted interior of Union Station is very impressive, but I happen to think that the loggia on the front of the building is a great space too, especially when you look up at the tiles.

Rode past this old friend last night. I had to stop to reflect on all of the things it has given me over the years: a jungle gym for exploration as a kid, a beautiful backdrop for high school functions, a vast library for countless college projects, a movie theater for other college projects, an inspiration and an aspiration for my career as a designer, and most importantly an incredible piece of architecture that all people from this area can truly be proud of. I hope it gets the care it deserves so that our kids get the same experience we did. #saveouricons #unionterminal #cincinnati #ohio

Cincinnati’s Union Terminal is probably one of the most photogenic buildings I’ve ever seen. In the very near future, we’ll be sharing photos of the inside, but isn’t this building beautiful from the outside too?

Grant is proud to be from a Main Street Community and the Black Dirt Capitol of the World—Conrad, Iowa! You can most often find him reading, running, or out on the road saving places.


The National Trust's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has awarded $3 million in grants to 33 places preserving Black history.

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