Union Station (St. Louis)

St. Louis Union Station, is a National Historic Landmark train station in St. Louis, Missouri. At the height of early 1900s train travel, the station was one of the busiest train stations in the United States. In the 1980s, it was restored into a hotel, shopping center, and entertainment complex. In the early 1990s the station would begin inner-city rail service.

St. Louis Union Station
Outside the station is Carl Milles' fountain sculpture Meeting Waters
Location1820 Market Street
St. Louis, Missouri 63103
Owned byBi-State Development Agency dba Metro
Connections St. Louis Metrolink
at Union Station
MetroBus: 4, 41, and 97
Megabus (to Memphis, Tennessee, Kansas City, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois)
ParkingYes; Paid
Disabled accessAccessible
Other information
Station codeSTL
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 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. LouisSaint Paul Washington Avenue
toward Saint Paul
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
Granite City
toward Chicago
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
Preceding station Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad Following station
toward Parsons
Main Line Terminus
Preceding station Missouri Pacific Railroad Following station
Tower Grove Main Line Terminus
Tower Grove
toward Texarkana
TexarkanaSt. Louis
Preceding station New York Central Railroad Following station
Terminus Big Four Route Main Line Indianapolis
toward Cleveland
East St. Louis
toward Cleveland
Preceding station New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad Following station
Terminus Clover Leaf District East St. Louis
toward Toledo
Preceding station Pennsylvania Railroad Following station
Terminus St. Louis Columbus East St. Louis
toward Columbus
Preceding station St. Louis–San Francisco Railway Following station
Tower Grove
toward Paris, TX
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
Terminus St. LouisDecatur Washington Avenue
toward Decatur
toward Moberly
MoberlySt. Louis Terminus
St. Louis Union Station
LocationSt. Louis, Missouri
 United States
Coordinates38°37′40.9″N 90°12′28.34″W
ArchitectTheodore Link
Architectural styleRomanesque Revival
NRHP reference #70000888[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJune 15, 1970
Designated NHLDecember 30, 1970[2]

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.



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.[3] 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 280 feet (85 m) high.

Union Station's headhouse and midway are constructed of Indiana limestone and initially included 42 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.

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


In 1903, Union Station was expanded to accommodate visitors to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.[4] In the 1920s, it remained the largest American railroad terminal.[5]

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. 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 preferred 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.[4][6]

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.[7]

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 [8] 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.


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.[9]

In August 2016, Lodging Hospitality Management announced plans to renovate Union Station once again. The renovations include a 120,000-square-foot, $45 million aquarium. The St. Louis Aquarium is completed and is slated to open December 25th, 2019; developers say it bring in an estimated one million annual visitors.

The Memories Museum features artifacts and displays about the history of St. Louis Union Station and rail travel in the United States.[10] Located on the upper level of the train shed, the museum is a joint project of Union Station Associates and the Museum of Transportation. Admission is free.

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.[11]

Some architectural elements from the building have been removed in renovations and taken to the Sauget, Illinois, storage site of the St. Louis Building Arts Foundation.[12]

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.


MetroLink, the St. Louis light rail mass transit system, serves Union Station from its station directly below the trainshed in the Union Station subway tunnel. The St. Louis Union Station serves the Red Line and Blue Line.

It takes about 30 minutes to travel to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport's East and Main Terminals via the Metro Red Line.

MegaBus service

Megabus previously provided express intercity bus service to Memphis, Tennessee, Kansas City, Missouri and Chicago from Union Station. Megabus moved to the Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center in December, 2014.

Taxis. Ride Shares

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

Approximate travel time by taxi, non-rush hour:

  • Downtown St. Louis hotels: 5–8 minutes
  • St. Louis International Airport: 25–30 minutes
  • MidAmerica St. Louis Airport: 30 minutes
  • Gateway Arch/Laclede's Landing: 8 minutes
  • America's Center/Convention Center: 8–10 minutes
  • Midtown/Theatre District: 12 minutes
  • Central West End: 10–15 minutes
  • Clayton Business District: 15 minutes

Gateway Transportation Station

The city's major transportation hub station, Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center is located next to Union Station. It serves the city's rail system and regional bus system MetroBus, Greyhound, Amtrak and city taxi services.


In 1981, the disused Grand Hall was used in John Carpenter's movie Escape from New York, doubling for Madison Square Garden during the film's gladiatorial fight.

See also


  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 2009-03-01. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  3. "About - St. Louis Union Station". St. Louis Union Station. Retrieved 2016-05-11.
  4. "Historic Station At End Of Line". Toledo Blade. November 1, 1978. Retrieved 2010-04-25. The source says there were three daily trains when there were actually four.
  5. "Union Station, 1820 Market Street, St. Louis, Missouri / The National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings / DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR NATIONAL PARK SERVICE". nps.gov. January 8, 1971. Retrieved 2017-10-10.
  6. Riverfront Times (2008-12-04). "Save the Amshack!". Retrieved 2008-12-28.
  7. "NHL nomination for Union Station" (PDF). Missouri DNR. Retrieved 2017-03-07.
  8. Artisans here put skills to work restoring St. Louis train station - The Milwaukee Sentinel - Aug 29, 1985
  9. Trains could return to St. Louis Union Station
  10. "St. Louis Union Station - A National Historic Landmark with Memories As Major Rail Hub". St. Louis Front Page. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  11. "St. Louis Union Station Architectural Drawings (WUA00363), 1891-1970 | WUA University Archives". archon.wustl.edu. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  12. List of Recovered Buildings Archived November 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

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