Union Station (Kansas City, Missouri)
|Union Station Kansas City|
|Address||30 West Pershing Road
Kansas City, Missouri 64108
|Platforms||2 island platforms|
|Rebuilt||1999 (as home to Science City et al);
2002 (Amtrak service resumed)
|Owned by||Union Station Assistance Corporation|
|Formerly||Union Depot (April 8, 1878–October 31, 1914), West Bottoms|
|Passengers (2013)||164,859 2.3% (Amtrak)|
|Location||Pershing Rd. and Main St., Kansas City, Missouri|
|Area||20.2 acres (8.2 ha)|
|Architectural style||Beaux Arts|
|NRHP Reference #||72000719|
|Added to NRHP||February 1, 1972|
Union Station is a union station serving Kansas City, Missouri, and the surrounding metropolitan area. Opened in 1914, it served as a replacement for the original Union Depot which opened in 1878. Union Station served a peak annual passenger traffic of over 670,000 in 1945 at the end of World War II, then spent the next four decades in gradual decline until its closure in 1985.
In 1996, a public/private partnership began funding Union Station's $250 million restoration. By 1999, the station reopened as a series of museums and other public attractions. In 2002, Union Station saw its return as a train station when Amtrak began providing public transportation services and has since become Missouri's second-busiest train station. As of 2010, the refurbished station boasts theaters, ongoing museum exhibits, and attractions such as the Science City at Union Station, the Irish Museum and Cultural Center, and the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity.
On April 8, 1878, Union Depot opened on a narrow triangle of land in Kansas City between Union Avenue and the railroad tracks of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad in present-day West Bottoms. Nicknamed the "Jackson County Insane Asylum" by those who thought it was too large, it was the second union station in the country, after the one in Indianapolis. The new depot was a hybrid of the Second Empire style and Gothic Revival. The lead architect was Asa Beebe Cross who "adorned the exterior of the building with intricate towers of varying heights, arched windows framed in stone and rows of dormers projecting from the steeply pitched mansard roof"; it had a clock tower above the main entrance that was 125 feet (38 m) in height. By the start of the 20th century, over 180 trains were passing daily through the station, serving a city whose population had tripled during its first-quarter century of operation. In 1903, the lack of room for expansion and a major flood led the city and the railroads to decide a new station was required.
- Alton Railroad
- Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
- Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
- Chicago Great Western Railway
- Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad
- Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad
- Kansas City Southern Railway
- Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad
- Missouri Pacific Railroad
- St. Louis-San Francisco Railway
- Union Pacific Railroad
- Wabash Railroad
The architect chosen to design the Union Station building was Jarvis Hunt, a proponent of the City Beautiful movement. The design was a main hall for ticketing, and a perpendicular hall extending out over the tracks for passenger waiting. The Beaux-Arts station opened on October 30, 1914, as the second-largest train station in the country. The building encompassed 850,000 square feet (79,000 m2), the ceiling in the Grand Hall is 95 feet (29 m) high, there are three chandeliers weighing 3,500 pounds (1600 kg) each, and the Grand Hall clock has a six-foot (1.8-m) diameter face. Due to its central location, Kansas City was a hub for both passenger and freight rail traffic. The scale of the building reflected this status.
Union Station made headlines on June 17, 1933, as four unarmed FBI agents were gunned down by gang members attempting to free captured fugitive Frank Nash. Nash was also killed in the gun battle. The “Kansas City Massacre” highlighted the lawlessness of Kansas City under the Pendergast Machine and resulted in the arming of all FBI agents.
In 1945, annual passenger traffic peaked at 678,363. As train travel declined beginning in the 1950s, the city had less and less need for a large train station. By 1973, only 32,842 passengers passed through the facility, all passenger train service was now run by Amtrak, and the building was beginning to deteriorate. The city government of Kansas City wished to preserve and redevelop the building. To facilitate this, they made a development deal with Trizec Corporation, a Canadian redevelopment firm. Included in the deal was an agreement that Trizec would redevelop the station. Between 1979 and 1986, Trizec constructed two office buildings on surrounding property, but did not redevelop the station. In 1985, Amtrak moved all passenger operations to a smaller facility. By this time, the station was essentially closed. In 1988, the city filed suit against Trizec for the failure to develop the station; the case was settled in 1994. For most of this time period, the building continued to decay.
In 1996, residents in five counties throughout the metropolitan area in both Kansas and Missouri approved the so-called "bi-state tax", a 1/8 of a cent sales tax, part of which helped to fund just under half of the $250 million restoration of Union Station. Renovation began in 1997 and was completed in 1999. The remaining money was raised through private donations and federal funding.
Today, Union Station receives no public funding. Current operating costs are funded by general admission and theater ticketing, grants, corporate and private donations, commercial space leases and facility rental. Union Station is a nonprofit 501c3 organization. Union Station is now home to Science City, a family-friendly interactive science center with more than 50 hands-on exhibits; the H&R Block City Stage Theater, a live-action venue with productions for young and old alike; the Reginer Extreme Screen, the largest 3-D movie screen in the region at five and half stories tall; two restaurants, including Pierponts, an upscale steak and seafood restaurant, and the Harvey's at Union Station; shops, including Rocky Mountain Chocolate, The Science City Store, The Kansas City Store opening in 2011 and the coming Parisi Coffee; the Gottlieb Planetarium, the largest planetarium in the area; and various temporary museum exhibits including the internationally acclaimed Dead Sea Scrolls in 2007, Bodies Revealed in 2008, Dialog in the Dark in 2009, Dinosaurs Unearthed in 2010 and Diana, A Celebration focusing upon Princess Diana in 2011. The Irish Museum and Cultural Center has been located in the station since March 17, 2007.
The old Union Station Powerhouse building is currently being renovated by the Kansas City Ballet. It will become the ballet's new home and will be known as the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity.
Current Amtrak service
In 2002, Amtrak restored passenger train service to the station. There are currently two trains daily to and from St. Louis, one train daily to Chicago and one train daily to the southwest (ultimately to Los Angeles).
- "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2013, State of Missouri" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- Ford, Susan Jezak (1999). "Union Avenue completed 1878, demolished 1915" (PDF). Missouri Valley Special Collections. Kansas City Public Library. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
- "Flood of 1903". Kansapedia. Kansas Historical Society. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
- "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2010, State of Missouri" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
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