St. Louis Union Station

Coordinates: 38°37′40.9″N 90°12′28.34″W / 38.628028°N 90.2078722°W / 38.628028; -90.2078722
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St. Louis, MO
General information
Location1820 Market Street
St. Louis, Missouri
Owned byLodging Hospitality Management
Platforms3 island platforms
Tracks4 (used for excursions)
ConnectionsLight rail interchange  Red   Blue 
At Union Station (MetroLink)
Rebuilt1985 (mall)
2019 (aquarium)
Former services
Preceding station Amtrak Following station
Kirkwood National Limited Effingham
Poplar Bluff
toward Laredo or Houston
Inter-American Alton
toward Chicago
Kirkwood Ann Rutledge
Terminus State House
Preceding station Alton Railroad Following station
Terminus Main Line Granite City
toward Chicago
Washington Av Kansas City – St. Louis Terminus
Preceding station Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Following station
Terminus St. Louis Line East St. Louis
toward Cumberland
Preceding station Burlington Route Following station
Washington Avenue
toward Burlington
BurlingtonSt. Louis Terminus
Terminus St. LouisSavanna Washington Avenue
toward Savanna
Louisiana, MO Kansas CitySt. Louis Terminus
Old Monroe Kansas CitySt. Louis Shortline
Preceding station Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad Following station
Terminus ChicagoSt. Louis Washington Avenue
toward Chicago
Preceding station Chicago, Peoria and St. Louis Railroad Following station
Terminus Main Line Washington Avenue
toward Peoria
Preceding station Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Following station
Vandeventer Kansas City – St. Louis Terminus
Preceding station Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad Following station
Terminus Main Line East St. Louis
toward Mobile
Preceding station Illinois Central Railroad Following station
Terminus St. Louis – Gilman East St. Louis
toward Gilman
St. Louis – Carbondale East St. Louis
toward Carbondale
Preceding station Louisville and Nashville Railroad Following station
Terminus St. LouisNashville Washington Avenue
toward Nashville
St. LouisLouisville Washington Avenue
toward Louisville
Preceding station Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad Following station
toward Galveston
Main Line Terminus
Preceding station Missouri Pacific Railroad Following station
Tower Grove Main Line Terminus
Tower Grove
toward Texarkana
Texarkana – St. Louis
Tower Grove
toward Memphis
St. Louis – Memphis
Preceding station New York Central Railroad Following station
Terminus Big Four Route
Main Line
Terre Haute
toward Cleveland
East St. Louis
toward Cleveland
Preceding station Nickel Plate Road Following station
Terminus St. Louis – Toledo East St. Louis
toward Toledo
ClevelandSt. Louis East St. Louis
toward Cleveland
Preceding station Pennsylvania Railroad Following station
Terminus St. Louis – Pittsburgh East St. Louis
toward Pittsburgh
Preceding station St. Louis–San Francisco Railway Following station
Tower Grove Main Line Terminus
Tower Grove
toward Memphis
MemphisSt. Louis
Preceding station St. Louis Southwestern Railway Following station
Valley Junction
toward Gatesville
Main Line Terminus
Preceding station Southern Railway Following station
Terminus St. LouisDanville East St. Louis
toward Danville
Preceding station Wabash Railroad Following station
Vandeventer Main Line Washington Avenue
toward Chicago
Terminus St. LouisDetroit Washington Avenue
toward Detroit
toward Omaha
OmahaSt. Louis Terminus
St. Louis Union Station
Coordinates38°37′40.9″N 90°12′28.34″W / 38.628028°N 90.2078722°W / 38.628028; -90.2078722
ArchitectTheodore Link
Architectural styleRomanesque Revival
NRHP reference No.70000888[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJune 15, 1970
Designated NHLDecember 30, 1970[2]

St. Louis Union Station is a National Historic Landmark and former train station in St. Louis, Missouri. At its 1894 opening, the station was the largest in the world that had tracks and passenger service areas all on one level. Traffic peaked at 100,000 people a day in the 1940s.[3] The last Amtrak passenger train left the station in 1978.

In the 1980s, it was renovated as a hotel, shopping center, and entertainment complex. The 2010s and 2020s saw more renovation and expansion of entertainment and office capacity. The current hotel portion of the station is currently a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[4]

An adjacent station serves the light-rail MetroLink Red and Blue Lines, which run under the station in the Union Station subway tunnel. The city's intercity train station sits a quarter-mile to the south, serving MetroLink, Amtrak, and Greyhound Bus.


19th century[edit]

Union Station was the largest and busiest train station in the world in 1894.
Original track layout

The station was opened on September 1, 1894, by the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis. The station was designed by Theodore Link, and included three main areas: the Headhouse and the Midway, and the 11.5-acre (47,000 m2) Train Shed designed by civil engineer George H. Pegram.[5] The headhouse originally housed a hotel, a restaurant, passenger waiting rooms and railroad ticketing offices. It featured a gold-leafed Grand Hall, Romanesque arches, a 65-foot (20 m) barrel-vaulted ceiling and stained-glass windows. The clock tower is 230 feet (70 m) high.[6]

Union Station's headhouse and midway are constructed of Indiana limestone and initially included 32 tracks under its vast trainshed terminating in the stub-end terminal. Its Grand Hall, which cost around $6.5 million and was about 75 by 125 feet large, was considered to be one of the most beautiful public lobbies.[citation needed]

At its opening, it was the world's largest and busiest railroad station and its trainshed was the largest roof span in the world.[citation needed]

20th century[edit]

In 1903, Union Station was expanded to accommodate visitors to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.[7] In the 1920s, it remained the largest American railroad terminal.[8]

At its height, the station combined the St. Louis passenger services of 22 railroads, the most of any single terminal in the world. In the 1940s, it handled 100,000 passengers a day.[3] The famous photograph of Harry S. Truman holding aloft the erroneous Chicago Tribune headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman", was shot at the station as Truman headed back to Washington, D.C., from Independence, Missouri, after the 1948 Presidential election.

The 1940s expansion added a new ticket counter designed as a half-circle and a mural by Louis Grell could be found atop the customer waiting area which depicted the history of St. Louis with an old fashion steam engine, two large steamboats and the Eads Bridge in the background.

As airliners became the primary mode of long-distance travel and railroad passenger services declined in the 1950s and 1960s, the massive station became obsolete and too expensive to maintain for its original purpose. By 1961, several tracks had been paved over for parking. Amtrak took over passenger service in 1971, but abandoned Union Station on October 31, 1978. By then, Amtrak had cut back service to four routes per day–the State House, the Ann Rutledge, the National Limited (formerly the Spirit of St. Louis) and the Inter-American. The eight total trains were nowhere near enough to justify the use of such a large facility. The last train to leave Union Station was a Chicago-bound Inter-American. Passenger service shifted to a temporary-style "Amshack" two blocks east. Amtrak has since moved its St. Louis service to the Gateway Transportation Center, one block east of Union Station.[7][9]

The station was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970, as an important surviving example of large-scale railroad architecture from the late 19th century.[10] It was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1981.[11]

In August 1985, after a $150 million renovation designed by HOK, Union Station was reopened with a 539-room hotel, shopping mall, restaurants and food court. Federal historic rehabilitation tax credits were used to transform Union Station into one of the city's most visited attractions. The station rehabilitation by Conrad Schmitt Studios[12] remains one of the largest adaptive re-use projects in the United States. The hotel is housed in the headhouse and part of the train shed, which also houses a lake and shopping, entertainment and dining establishments. Omni Hotels was the original hotel operator, followed by Hyatt Regency Hotel chain and Marriott Hotels.

21st century[edit]

St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station Entrance South Trainshed
The St. Louis Wheel at Union Station

In 2010–11, the station's Marriott Hotel in the main terminal building was expanded. It took over the station's Midway area; all stores were moved to the train shed shopping arcade. In 2012, Lodging Hospitality Management bought Union Station and rebranded the hotel as a DoubleTree.[13] In August 2016, Lodging Hospitality Management announced plans to renovate Union Station once again, included plans for an aquarium. The Memories Museum features artifacts and displays about the history of St. Louis Union Station and rail travel in the United States.[14] Located on the upper level of the train shed, the museum is a joint project of Union Station Associates and the National Museum of Transportation. The original architectural drawings and blueprints for Union Station and the original hotel are available to researchers at the Washington University Archives at Washington University in St. Louis.[15] Some architectural elements from the building have been removed in renovations and taken to the Sauget, Illinois, storage site of the National Building Arts Center.[16]

St. Louis Union Station was the venue for the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship component of the FIRST Championship, hosted in St. Louis every April until 2017, after which it was moved to Detroit.

The station's train shed area features The St. Louis Wheel, a 200-foot-high, 42 gondola observation wheel.

Inside the station is The St. Louis Rope Course, a 90,000 cubic foot, 3-story indoor ropes and zip line course.

Union Station has two light show features: one in the train shed area, and another inside Union Station Hotel's lobby.

In January 2020, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. moved their global headquarters to downtown St. Louis inside the 68,000-square-foot Grand Central Building inside the Union Station complex. The company also opened their new Build-A-Bear Workshop Union Station headquarters store and also operates a Build-A-Bear Radio studio and other experiential elements at their new headquarters. Additionally, a ferris wheel, aquarium, and an abundance of restaurants have been added to Union Station in 2020.

In 2020, the St. Louis Aquarium opened in the former shopping mall space in the building.[17] At 120,000 square feet, the aquarium is home to more than 13,000 animals representing over 250 species.



MetroLink, the St. Louis region's light rail system, serves Union Station via the Red and Blue lines. The station is located beneath the train shed in the historic Union Station Baggage Tunnel. This tunnel was originally constructed in the 1890s as a below grade transfer area for baggage between trains.[18] It was converted and opened for MetroLink usage in 1993 and has seen several renovations over the years, most notably in 2010 and 2016.[19][20] The tunnel is expected to see another major renovation in 2024.[21]

It takes about 31 minutes to travel to either terminal at St. Louis Lambert International Airport via the Red Line.

Gateway Transportation Station[edit]

The city's major transportation hub, Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center, is located two blocks from Union Station. It also serves MetroLink in addition to local buses and national connections with Amtrak, Greyhound and MegaBus

Taxi and rideshare[edit]

St. Louis Union Station has 24-hour taxi service at its north entrance on Market Street.


In 1981, areas of the then disused station were used in the filming of John Carpenter's movie Escape from New York. A scene involving the captured President was shot in the station's train shed and the film's gladiatorial fight was staged in the Grand Hall.[22]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ "Union Station". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on March 1, 2009. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Holmes, M. Patricia (January 28, 1970). "National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: St. Louis Union Station" (PDF). Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 30, 2020. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  4. ^ "Hotel History – St. Louis Union Station, Curio Collection by Hilton". Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  5. ^ "About – St. Louis Union Station". St. Louis Union Station. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  6. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 30, 2020. Retrieved February 24, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ a b "Historic Station At End Of Line". Toledo Blade. November 1, 1978. Retrieved April 25, 2010. The source says there were three daily trains when there were actually four.
  8. ^ "Union Station, 1820 Market Street, St. Louis, Missouri / The National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings / DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR NATIONAL PARK SERVICE". January 8, 1971. Retrieved October 10, 2017.
  9. ^ "Save the Amshack!". Riverfront Times. December 4, 2008. Archived from the original on August 11, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  10. ^ "NHL nomination for Union Station" (PDF). Missouri DNR. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 25, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  11. ^ "Union Station Historical Marker". The Historical Marker Database. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  12. ^ Artisans here put skills to work restoring St. Louis train station – The Milwaukee Sentinel – Aug 29, 1985
  13. ^ Trains could return to St. Louis Union Station
  14. ^ "St. Louis Union Station – A National Historic Landmark with Memories As Major Rail Hub". St. Louis Front Page. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  15. ^ "St. Louis Union Station Architectural Drawings (WUA00363), 1891–1970 | WUA University Archives". Archived from the original on October 10, 2017. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  16. ^ List of Recovered Buildings Archived November 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^
  18. ^ Lyles-Wiggins, Francoise (August 8, 2018). "Union Station Tunnel" (PDF). Bi-State Development Agency. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  19. ^ Courtney (December 14, 2010). "Union Station Tunnels Get An Upgrade in Infrastructure". Metro Transit – Saint Louis. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  20. ^ "Modjeski and Masters awarded engineering contract for St. Louis Union Station Tunnel". Railway Track and Structures. December 7, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  21. ^ "MetroLink Improvement Projects". Metro Transit – Saint Louis. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  22. ^ "Filming Locations for Escape From New York (1981), in Missouri, Los Angeles and New York". The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations. Retrieved August 8, 2023.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]