A Look at Union Station’s History
When the renovation of Denver’s classic Union Station is completed in 2014, the building will have received a very modern makeover. But while the majority of people who walk by the construction each day ponder as to the future of the station, its past is just as interesting.
So we have included some rather interesting and unknown facts about our beloved Union Station that most people do not know, but should.
• The current Union Station was not the first one. On the same site, the Union Depot and Railroad Company built Denver’s first station in 1881 for $525,000. Due to a fire ignited by a faulty electrical system, that station was burned beyond repair on March 18, 1894. The existing Union Station was built quickly afterwards.
• There used to be a massive stone clock tower in the center of the front façade, but it was torn down in 1914 and replaced with the central section we see today.
• In the center room of the station, there are 2,300 Columbine flowers, Colorado’s state flower, carved into the plaster arches.
• The true glory days of Union Station were in the 1920s and 1930s, when the station would operate about 80 trains a day.
• When train travel was still all the rage, Union Station saw its fair share of famous passengers, including Presidents Harry Truman, William Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and Queen Marie of Romania.
• In 1933, Denver was inundated by a series of devastating floods. On August 4, the station was overwhelmed and closed for a period of time as trains could neither arrive nor leave.
• Up until 1958, Union Station saw more travelers per year than the Stapleton Airport.
• RTD and the City of Denver made improvements to the station in the 1980s in order to accommodate the new rail platforms, canopies, and bus lanes that provided access to the Market Street Station.
Once the Station is reopened:
• Trams will run regularly between Union Station and Denver International Airport, a much needed transportation corridor.
• The commercial and retail space designed for the new Union Station will contain only locally owned businesses and no major chain stores.
• Many people speculate that when Union Station is finally reopened to the public, the city blocks immediately surrounding it will become the new “it” neighborhood in the city, surpassing Larimer Square and Cherry Creek North.
• The station’s historical building will have a new 110-room hotel, run by Sage Hospitality.
• The now empty area behind the station will be completely developed with both commercial and residential space.