50 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20002
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- President Roosevelt stops by for a visit
- In 1903 Teddy Roosevelt signed the act that paved the way for the capital's grand terminal. After the Station opened, the former Rough Rider stopped by and chatted with some of the men who kept the wheels rolling.
- Moving Scaffolding 1905–1907
- The clever McNulty Brothers rigged up a well-braced moving scaffold in order to complete the grueling construction of and delicate finishing work on the Station's Main Hall 220 feet long ceiling from 1905 to 1907. This eliminated having to tear down and rebuild the scaffolding to reach each section, a technique that was used again in the 1980s for restoration.
- Union Station Train Concourse 1908–1920
- When it first opened in 1907, Union Station's 760-foot Concourse, which was open to train platforms, was the largest room in the world.
- Sculptures by Louis Saint-Gaudens
- Six sculptures by Louis Saint-Gaudens stand above the Ionic columns along the Station's central portico. They represent fire (Prometheus), electricity (Thales), freedom (Themis), imagination (Apollo), agriculture (Ceres), and mechanics (Archimedes)—all pursuits that built America.
- In the 1920s, when streetcar fare was a nickel, one streetcar pushed off from Union Station to Georgetown via Pennsylvania Avenue. The second, like the first owned by the Capital Traction Company, had Connecticut Avenue as a destination. The third was an open car of the Washington Railway & Electric Company. One of the most popular streetcar routes stretched from Union Station across town to American University and the Glen Echo amusement park.
- Front Colonnade
- Looking east down the front arcade's series of groin vaults, one can further appreciate the timelessness of Daniel Burnham's classical design.
- During the height of WWII, information clerks answered 80,000 questions a day from the 100,000 people who passed through the terminal. Just before Christmas, 1942, crowds got so thick that passengers had difficulty finding the door; servicemen desperately jumped train gates in their rush to get home, and for parts of 2 days, management actually closed and locked the station to any more passengers.
- Old Station Train Wreck
- The Federal Express's engine reared upward atop debris as it burst through the stationmaster's shed, driving a hole in the Concourse's false ceiling, dropping the engine onto the floor. Had the floor been able to support 230 tons, train 173 might well have pulverized its way into the waiting room. Runaway trains were not unknown at Union Station, although it was usually a slow-moving steam switcher that got away.
- Main Hall Pit
- In the 1970s the floor of the Main Hall was torn out in preparation of what was later unflatteringly called “The Pit,” part of a larger plan to transform Union Station into a National Visitor Center, with the pit hosting a multi-screen slide show. The retransformation in the 1980s began with dismantling the A/V theater, and rebuilding the floor to accommodate a new marketplace downstairs.
- East Hall Decorative Frieze
- During the restoration in the 1980s, artisans recreated the East Hall's decorative frieze.
- Union Station Grand Re-opening
- Following two years of renovation at a cost of $160 million, Union Station reopened on September 29, 1988—thousands gathered for the grand reopening.
- Union Station Train Board
- For nearly a century and through two world wars, Union Station served as a major transportation center. Today, Union Station is the hub for Amtrak's headquarters and executive offices.
- Presidential Inaugural Ball
- The imposing halls have been the site of countless private special events including six Presidential Inaugural Balls and many citywide celebrations. More than ten thousand people crowded the Station in 2009 to toast President Barack Obama.
- Red Bull Art of Can
- Union Station hosts many free public exhibits such as the Red Bull Art of Can, which can be converted into extravagant private parties at night.
- Colombia Day at Union Station
- Free, festive public events draw people from all over the Metro area. Here, the country of Colombia celebrates Colombia Day with music, dancing, a Station-wide sculpture exhibit, and of course, free coffee.
- Cherry Blossom Trees
- Since its reopening in 1988, Union Station has hosted major cultural and civic events, including 70 major dinners and charitable benefits in the Main Hall; including five Presidential Inaugural Balls and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's 70th Birthday dinner. In its first three years of operation, Union Station has hosted more than 1,000 events at the Columbus Club, and a variety of free concerts, art and photography exhibits and other activities.