Indianapolis is a station where Amtrak still stops along a former platform of the historic and still-standing 1888 Union Depot, under a train shed built between 1919 and 1922. Train passenger facilities though have been relegated to a dingy station area shared with Greyhound (and Hoosier Ride rural Intercity Bus service) all completely beneath the railroad tracks that opened in 1979.
This combined Amtrak & Greyhound Station, Union Station Terminal (the sign above the passenger entrance) has blue tiled walls and a mish-mash of wire and plastic black chairs. The steel beams running through the waiting room are painted white but make the room feel more dingy and claustrophobic. Amtrak and Greyhound are on opposite walls with their ticket offices. The Amtrak ticket office (it's decent sized with two window positions and openings for luggage in it's base) has an interesting paint scheme reminiscent of a train car. I assume 15 years ago the office was in the nice red, white, and blue pointless arrow scheme. Amtrak has no clear entrance. A white staircase in the middle of the station and a small elevator along the wall next to the ticket office lead up to the single, still standing platform, there is no clear gate for trains. The waiting room shakes every time a freight train goes through Indianapolis above. Bus passengers have the usual corded off gates to line up at and 9 doors that lead to the back in and out bus bays along the southern side of the railroad viaduct. There is a single dimly lit uninviting passenger entrance along the southwest corner of the building out a small passenger drop off area near the NW corner of South Street and Illinois Street. The act of just waiting for a bus or train here really makes you feel like a second-class traveler (even after arriving on the extremely first class dome car service of the Hoosier State down from Chicago).
The historic redbrick Romanesque Revival 1888 Union Depot along the north side of the tracks is now part of the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center with signs that say private facility at every entrance. It's clearly no longer public space. Your webmaster did walk in (and didn't shoot any pictures trying to act like he belonged). There is definitely a railroad theme to the hotel's conference spaces with signs evoking the names of rail lines from the past. The Grand Hall has a large rose window and is next to a clock tower. The main hotel entrance isn't even through here, the doors of the original grand entrance are closed off; instead the hotel entrance is along the north side of the railroad viaduct with a wide valet parking area outside. The entrance from the the interior to the Grand Hall had numerous curtains up since the space is normally used for galas. Corridors in the conference area of the hotel have signs that evoke the rail lines and trains of years past. The various event rooms are named after train stations. There are even signs for track numbers. The hotel now takes up most of the historic train shed with ballrooms. What were once eleven tracks are now just 4, the one narrow low-level island platform for rail customers. The northern wall of the train shed that is visible out to the street towards downtown has been nicely restored with windows and light bricks. The exterior of the southern wall above the Greyhound bus bays has mass-produced siding, which is colored white.
Today, just 4 railroad tracks continue through the station on southern side of the viaduct. Amtrak still uses tracks numbered and labeled tracks 9 and 10 (someone has graffitied 9 and three-quarters onto a column). They share the one remaining island platform and it feels dark, unappealing and grimy. The staircase and elevator arrive at portals with unattractive corrugated metal surrounding them. The staircase is behind a glass door. Amtrak service to Indianapolis is nearly always in darkness when the Triweekly Cardinal is on time. Indiana's location in the extreme western portion of Eastern Time means that the 6:00am departure time even in midsummer is at dawn. The Hoosier State (now operated by Amtrak using Iowa Pacific equipment) operates on the same schedule as the Cardinal (although movements afoot to change this) during the other four days of the week, providing daily service between Indy and Chicago, with Triweekly service eastbound to Cincinnati, through the New River George and onto Washington and New York City.
Photos 1-5 taken on 6 November, 2011; 5-19: 17 June, 2016; 20-48: 18 June, 2016
Last Updated: 19 June, 2016