The large, beautiful and immense Kansas City-Union Station (in Missouri) is one that has had two lives since the Beaux-Arts station opened on October 30, 1914. Like many train stations around the country, by the 1980s the station was falling apart and in 1983 all maintenance ends except for the operation of sump pumps operating continuously 50 feet below the main floor to avoid basement flooding. Amtrak kept its ticket office inside the station except in an inflatable bubble tent in Grand Hall. (Information panels on the History of the station inside it). In 1985 Amtrak moved to the "Amtrak shack," an office outside the station along Main Street. I assume the same train platforms continued to be used. The station was finally saved in 1996 when residents of five counties in both Kansas and Missouri passed a bistate 1/8 cent sales tax to restore the station. The station reopened to the public on November 10, 1999 housing Science City and the Kansas City Rail Experience, a rail and model railroad museum (the full sized railway cars were offsite being restored when I visited). Amtrak arrived back in the station in 2002.
It is home to Amtrak a post office, a few restaurants and a number of museums. The museums include the K.C. Rail Experience, the Model Railway Experience, Science City (housed where the main train shed used to be) and an area for special exhibits (most recently showing the Titanic exhibition). There is a main entrance hall called the Great Hall which includes Harvey's at Union Station. It is named after the legacy of Fred Harvey and the Harvey Houses they ran that were set up as one of America's first restaurant chains feeding railway passengers meals. They later also ran (subsidized by the railroads) dining cars. The historic name is significant in Union Station because Fred Harvey ran the original retail shops and Westport Room restaurant in the station from the station's opening in 1914 until they all closed in 1968. The station has two grand halls, the Great Hall at the entrance which includes a decorative ceiling found at some many grand railroad stations from the day as well as (what is labeled on the map as Spirit Festival Plaza) a second hall with a slightly less intricately decorated ceiling and a line a more modern lampposts that dot the interior. It mainly provides access to Science City and the Model Railway Experience.
The station is located along Main Street south of downtown and has a towering stone appearance from the outside, with a separate car drop off loop that leave passengers at one of two awninged entrances. Also to note are to pedestrian overpasses that lead directly into the station: One is a glass skywalk over to Crown Center (which includes two hotels and the world headquarters of Hallmark cards). There is also an outdoor footbridge to the Frieght House Building across the four mainline railroad tracks. The slats that make up the sides of the bridge have large enough gaps for photographs and go directly over the one train platform (allowing the non-train riding general public to get pictures of trains entering and leaving) and two mainline freight tracks of the main transcontinental rail line. A train of private railcars is stored west of the station, clearly visible from the Freight House Railway bridge.
Photos 1-12 taken on 12 June, 2012, 13-39 on 13 June, 2012
Last Updated: 12 August, 2012