Union Station (Denver, Colorado)

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Denver Union Station
Denver union station.jpg
The front of Denver's Union Station, facing Wynkoop Street
Station statistics
Address 1701 Wynkoop Street (Amtrak)
1600 Wewatta Street (RTD)
Denver, CO 80202
Coordinates 39°45′11″N 105°00′00″W / 39.753187°N 105.000093°W / 39.753187; -105.000093Coordinates: 39°45′11″N 105°00′00″W / 39.753187°N 105.000093°W / 39.753187; -105.000093
Line(s) Amtrak: RTD (17th & Chestnut Pavilion):
  C Line
  E Line
  W Line
Connections Thruway Motorcoach
Regional highway coaches for Boulder County points
other express and local bus routes.
Platforms 2 side platforms, 3 island platforms (Amtrak, Commuter Rail)
1 side platform, 1 island platform (Light Rail)
Tracks 8 (Amtrak, Commuter Rail)
3 (Light Rail)
Other information
Opened 1894
Rebuilt 1914, 2011-2014
Accessible Handicapped/disabled access
Station code DEN
Owned by RTD and partners
Passengers (2013) 108,124[1] Decrease 4.6% (Amtrak)
Preceding station   BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak   Following station
toward Emeryville
California Zephyr
toward Chicago
Terminus C Line
W Line
E Line
toward Lincoln
  Former services  
Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe
Terminus Denver Branch
toward La Junta
Denver Branch
Major stations
toward La Junta
Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad
Terminus Main Line
Rock Island Line
Terminus Main Line
toward Chicago
Union Station
Union Station (Denver, Colorado) is located in Colorado
Union Station (Denver, Colorado)
Location 17th St. at Wynkoop, Denver, Colorado
Coordinates 39°45′12″N 104°59′57″W / 39.75333°N 104.99917°W / 39.75333; -104.99917
Area 25.1 acres (10.2 ha)
Built 1881
Architectural style Classical Revival, Other, Romanesque, Italian Romanesque
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 74000571[2]
CSRHP # 5DV.114
Added to NRHP November 20, 1974

Denver Union Station is the main railway station and central transportation hub in Denver, Colorado. It is located at 17th and Wynkoop Streets in the present-day LoDo district[3] and includes the historic building, a train shed canopy, a 22-gate underground bus facility, and light rail station.[4] The building first opened on June 1, 1881 with its present-day structure completed in 1914. In 2012 it underwent a major renovation in order to redevelop it as the centerpiece of a new transit-oriented mixed use development on the site's former rail-yards.[5] The building re-opened in the summer of 2014 with the addition of a hotel, several restaurants and retailers, and a train hall canopy.


Nineteenth Century Structures[edit]

Denver's first train station was constructed in 1868 to serve the new Denver Pacific Railway, which connected Denver to the main transcontinental line at Cheyenne, Wyoming. By 1875, there were four different railroad stations, making passenger transfers between different railroad lines inconvenient. To remedy this issue, the Union Pacific Railroad proposed creating one central "Union Station" to combine the various operations. In February 1880, the owners of the four lines (the Union Pacific, the Denver & Rio Grande Western, the Denver, South Park & Pacific, and the Colorado Central) agreed to build a station at 17th and Wynkoop Streets. Architect A. Taylor of Kansas City was hired to develop the plans, and the station opened in May 1881.[6]

A fire in 1894 destroyed the central portion of the 1881 depot. The Kansas City architectural firm of Van Brunt & Howe was hired to design a larger replacement depot in the Romanesque style. Both the 1881 and 1894 depots included a tall central clock tower with four clock faces.[7]

Early Twentieth Century[edit]

In 1912, the original Union Depot partnership was dissolved and replaced by the Denver Terminal Railway Company, representing the then-major operators of the station (the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Colorado & Southern, the Union Pacific, and the Denver & Rio Grande Western). The new partnership decided to demolish and rebuild the central portion of the station to handle the increasing passenger traffic. The new central portion, designed by Denver architects Gove & Walsh, was built in the Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1914.[8]

Twentieth Century Decline[edit]

Denver Ski Train, 2003

During its heyday, the station was served by 80 daily trains operated by six different railroads; however, most of this was terminated at the time of the formation of Amtrak, which has since operated only one train daily between Chicago and the Bay Area, routed through Denver. The Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad's Ski Train was operated until the end of the winter of 2008–2009, at which time the operation was discontinued. In September 2009 plans were announced to revive the service as a special limited route beginning in December,[9] but this did not happen due to insurance problems.[10] Current passenger services include:

The station also serves the once a year Cheyenne Frontier Days Train, usually pulled by Union Pacific's steam locomotive 844, the last steam locomotive built for Union Pacific. The train runs between Union Station and Cheyenne, Wyoming for the Frontier Days Rodeo event.

FasTracks Redevelopment[edit]

Main article: FasTracks
The new open-air train hall designed by SOM (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

Under a public/private consortium, the station and the surrounding 19.5 acres (79,000 m²) was redeveloped to be the hub of Denver's new FasTracks commuter rail network as well as its Regional and Express bus networks. The redevelopment was done under the Regional Transportation District's master plan for the station site, officially known as the Denver Union Station. Eight teams of prominent architects, developers and engineers competed in 2002 for the massive contract to redevelop the station into a transit-oriented retail, office and residential complex, with a budget in the range of $900 million.

On July 30, 2010, the US Department of Transportation announced that the station had received a $300 million grant to construct three light-rail tracks and eight heavy-rail tracks for both intercity and commuter rail services, as well as additional storage and servicing capabilities.[11]

Union Station during renovations, September 2013.

On February 1, 2011, Amtrak's passenger station and boarding platform were moved to a temporary station at 21st and Wewatta streets, behind Coors Field, in order to allow construction of the commuter rail tracks and platforms.This temporary relocation lasted until February 28, 2014, when Amtrak's ticketing and passenger services returned to the station.[12]

The new Union Station stop on the RTD Light Rail which opened in August, 2011. The MallRide was also moved west adjacent to the light rail stop. On the far left are the consolidated main line railroad tracks.

The new light rail station opened on August 15, 2011[13] west of the former light rail stations and adjacent to the consolidated main line railroad tracks near the Denver Millennium Bridge. The westernmost stop of the 16th Street Mall shuttle, also known as the MallRide, was also moved west and is adjacent to the new light rail stop.

The new Union Station Bus Concourse, with 22 boarding-deboarding gates, opened on May 11, 2014. On that same day, the Market Street Station closed permanently after thirty years of continuous use. All bus service from the Market Street Station was re-routed to Union Station from that day forward.

The main historic building closed to the public on December 1, 2012 for construction and re-opened July 12, 2014. The majority of the terminal building's upper levels have become The Crawford Hotel, with the Great Hall on the ground level serving as the hotel lobby. The building also includes restaurants and shops on the first floor.[14][15]

The full redevelopment, designed and built by Milender White Construction Company and managed by the Union Station Alliance, officially opened on July 26, 2014,[16] though portions of it opened on July 12.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2013, State of Colorado" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  3. ^ See Forrest, Kenton and Albi, Charles. "Denver's Railroads: The Story of Union Station and the Railroads of Denver." (1981, Colorado Railroad Museum). (ISBN 0918654319).
  4. ^ Welcome to the New Union Station. Regional Transportation District. Retrieved 06 December 2014.
  5. ^ Denver Union Station History and Timeline. Denver Union Station Project Authority. Retrieved 06 December 2014.
  6. ^ Stevens, Mark E., Denver Union Station National Register of Historic Places Nomination, August 1974; p. 2.
  7. ^ Stevens, Mark E., Denver Union Station National Register of Historic Places Nomination, August 1974, p. 3.
  8. ^ Fraser, Clayton, and Jennifer Strand. Railroads in Colorado, 1858–1948. Loveland, Colorado: Fraserdesign, 1997, p. 161.
  9. ^ Leib, Jeffrey (September 18, 2009). "All Are Aboard Plan to Revive Ski Train". Denver Post. 
  10. ^ Leib, Jeffrey (December 29, 2009). "Problems derail revival of ski train". Denver Post. 
  11. ^ "Denver receives $300 million from USDOT for Union Station project". Progressive Railroading. July 30, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2010. 
  12. ^ RTD FasTracks, February, 2014. Amtrak moves back to Union Station
  13. ^ SOUTHEASTConnections newsletter, September, 2011. New light rail station debuts at Union Station in Denver
  14. ^ The Crawford Hotel at Denver's Union Station to Open Summer 2014
  15. ^ Jaffe, Mark (July 13, 2014) "Denver's renovated Union Station has been a 30-year barn-raising" The Denver Post
  16. ^ http://denver.cbslocal.com/2014/07/11/union-station-gala-raises-1-million-for-local-charities/
  17. ^ http://denver.cbslocal.com/2014/07/10/new-crawford-hotel-at-union-station-getting-ready-for-guests/

External links[edit]