The facade of the Centro Cultural Estación Mapocho in 2006
Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the Estación Mapocho was for a long time the hub for all rail traffic serving northern Chile, Valparaiso and Argentina. Built to celebrate the centennial of Chilean independence, the building has an obvious sentimental value that adds to its imposing architecture. In recognition of all these attributes, the building was declared a national monument in 1976. It is located on the south bank of the Mapocho River and close to the Mercado Central de Santiago. Puente Cal y Canto metro station is beneath the square in front of the station.
The demand and quality of rail traffic to northern Chile had however been decreasing up until then, and would continue to do so up until 1987 when the building was decommissioned due to serious structural decay. Since demolition of a national monument is expressly forbidden, the building remained in disuse and awaiting repair until 1991 when the government put the remodeling of the station up for licitation. The building was repaired and restored by the beginning of 1994. Since rail traffic was no longer operating to its former destinations, the station passed into a new life, but retaining its name.
The Estación Mapocho building now serves as a cultural center. The station is used primarily for art exhibits, musical performances, and conventions. Its full current name is "Centro Cultural Estación Mapocho"