Facebook Page

A Visit to Kansas City Union Station ~ January 3rd, 2010

by Elizabeth Guenzler

On the way back to Washington State after spending the New Year at the Depot Inn and Suites in La Plata, Missouri, part of the day was spent exploring Kansas City Union Station. Built in 1914 by architect Jarvis Hunt, it replaced a small Union Depot from 1878. Union Station served a peak annual traffic of more than 670,000 passengers in 1945 at the end of World War II, quickly declined in the 1950s's and was closed in 1985. In 1996, a public-private partnership undertook Union Station's $250 million restoration and in 1999, the station reopened as a series of museums and other public attractions. In 2002, Union Station saw its return as a train station when Amtrak began providing public transportation services and has since become Missouri's second-busiest train station. The refurbished station houses theaters, ongoing museum exhibits and attractions such as the Science City at Union Station, the Irish Museum and Cultural Center, and the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity.

Bob and I walked from the hotel to the station via the Link covered walkway and this view of Kansas City Union Station.

The Civil Engineering Landmark plaque.

The Railway Post Office plaque commemorating the routes and the railway companies.

Explanation of the route the mail went from Kansas City via rail to other parts of the country. Since Bob's camera was better suited than mine to taking these wide-angle interior pictures, he did the upper floor photography.

Former ticket office restored as an upscale restaurant; main floor view.

View from the second floor balcony of the ticket office now restaurant.

Looking west.

Looking east.

View from the south balcony looking to the concourse.

The waiting room and its famous clock.

The windows and train gates; the waiting room had sixteen gates spanning twenty-two tracks.

The Grand Hall.

The waiting room as viewed from the Grand Hall. This is the area that forms the entrance to Science Centre.

The information booth which was added during the restoration process.

View looking east on the main course showing the Main Street entrance through the Harvey House Diner. This ws the original Fred Harvey Restaurant at the station.

The Fred Harvey Restaurant at the east end of the Grand Hall. Even though the restaurant was not restored, the area is used as the Fred Harvey Food Court.

View of the Harvey House Diner taken from second floor balcony.

Interior view of the Harvey House Diner.

Railway maps, timetables, postcards and other memorabelia under glass in the tables of the Diner.

Entrance to the Amtrak station. The other signs are companies that occupy the second and third floors; they used to be the offices of the railways that served Kansas City.

Historic photographs at the entrance to the Amtrak station.

Models of the passenger trains that served Kansas City Union Station.

One of the ornate ceiling tiles.

A model of Santa Fe 4-4-2 1452 built for John S. Reed, Santa Fe Chairman and was displayed in his office.

The plaque on the display case. Part of the attractions at Union Station is an IMAX Theatre. They were showing "Polar Express" which we decided to see. Afterwards, I went downstairs to the Kansas City Rail Experience.

Train boards as one descends the stairs.

Various plaques on the wall of the entry area.

A model of Union Pacific 4-6-4 5210 on display.

On one of the walls were emblems of the railways that served Kansas City and their current names.

More emblems, these of BNSF and its predecessor railways.

Kansas City Southern and its predecessors.

The Union Pacific family of railways.

The Aerotrain and Train of Tomorrow picture.

Display cases housing railway memorabelia and dining car china.

Dining car china on display.

Returning upstairs, the entrance from the street to the Grand Hall.

Union Station was famous for its large, multi-gauge model railway layout during the Christmas season.

Views of the very impressive model railway. Bob then ventured outside in the near-freezing temperatures but I stayed inside.

Kansas City Public Service PCC car 551 with Santa Fe business car "Chico" behind.

Kansas City Southern FP9 734 (ex. KCS 4, exx. VIA 6507, nee Canadian National 6507) and Great Northern observation car 1292 "Going To The Sun Mountain" (became Burlington Northern 1201 1970).

The World War I Memorial as seen from Union Station. We enjoyed a nice dinner then relaxed for the evening before flying back to Seattle the next day.

I had enjoyed my first time at Kansas City Union Station and learning about its history and it was a nice way to end this New Year's trip. I was glad to get back to the Pacific Northwest, however, and the milder temperatures!