Washington, D.C.'s Union Station was built jointly by the Pennsylvania (PRR) and Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroads on an area of swampland near the U.S. Capitol Building. The station, designed by architect Daniel Burnham, opened with the arrival of a B&O Railroad passenger train from Pittsburgh on October 27, 1907. A magnificent gateway to our nation's capital, the station has served the needs of the traveling public continuously since that year. Besides the B&O and PRR, the station also served the Chesapeake & Ohio, Southern, Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac (RF&P), Atlantic Coast Line, and Seaboard Railroads. During World War II as many as 200,000 passengers a day passed through the station. During the 1980's the station underwent a major renovation, costing over $160 Million Dollars. Completed in 1988, the effort restored the station's grandeur and remade it into a transportation, shopping, and dining megaplex.
When built, the station concourse one of the largest rooms in the United States and regularly used for Inaugural Balls. Today, the station is still traditionally host to one of these prestigious Presidential events every four years on January 20.
1901 – McMillion Commission
The McMillian Commission determined that further development of the L’Enfant Plan necessitated removing existing railroad facilities from the National Mall.
A Brief History of Union Station
1903 – Approval
Congress approved the union terminal site on the north side of Massachusetts Avenue, with D.H. Burnham & Co. as the building’s architects. Burnham and chief designer Peirce Anderson employed the elegant Beaux-Arts style and drew on Rome’s Baths of Diocletian and Triumph arches for the building’s inspiration. The glorious result helped set the tone for Washington’s monumental architecture for the next forty years.
1907 – Grand Opening
Union Station opened with the arrival of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Pittsburgh Express on October 27th. The rail station went into full service the following year.
1917-1918 – World War I
The station became a center of American efforts during World War I, moving deploying soldiers to ships bound for Europe and civilians to the capital to manage tremendous logistical demands.
Today, Union Station is an intermodal transporation center. Taxis, bus companies, Washington, D.C.'s Metro System (on Red-Line) Amtrak, MARC, and Virginiai Railway Express all serve the station. Contact informaiton for rail service is below:
The station is managed by a not-for-profit called the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation. Their web site is www.usrcdc.com
* Acela photo by J. Lilly. Photo of station at Columbus Circle by M. Ries
You can still ride out of Union Station on a vintage railroad car that used to regularly serve our nation's capital city. The National Railway Historical Society, Washington, D.C. Chapter, Inc. offers periodic rail excursions from Union Station aboard our beautifully restored 1923 Pullman passenger train sleeping car Dover Harbor. Or, even better, charter the Dover Harbor and plan a trip across this beautiful nation, by train! For more infomation on going to over 500 destinations in the U.S. and Canada, visit www.doverharbor.com
See America by Pullman!