St. Louis Union Station – National Historic Landmark
St. Louis Union Station (STLUS) – opened September 1,1894 as a passenger intercity train terminal and was the world’s largest and busiest train station. It was owned by the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis. Designed by Theodore Link it included 3 main areas (1) the Headhouse (2) the Midway (3) Train Shed, which was designed by George H. Pegram.
The Headhouse – included a hotel, restaurant, waiting rooms for passengers and railroad ticketing office. Luxuriously, was featuring a gold-leafed Grand Hall, Romanesque arches, 65 foot barrel-vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows. Clock tower sets 280 feet in the air. It was constructed of Indian limestone.
At the height of Union Stations’ success it served 22 railroads, making it the largest train terminal in the world. It was expanded in 1903 anticipating the increase in traffic to the 1904 World’s Fair. During that time it was served by 27 railroads.
In the early 1980s it was converted into an entertainment complex that offered a hotel, shopping, and multiple restaurants.
Today, it is a light-rail passenger train station for MetroLink Red and Blue Lines. St. Louis’ intercity train station lies approximately 1/4 mile to the east.
Records indicate that there were more than 100,000 people served daily in the 1940s. A famous photograph of Harry S. Truman was taken at Union Station holding a Chicago Tribune headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman“. Truman was traveling back to Washington DC after the 1948 election.
Traffic began to decline as an increasing number of consumers choose to travel using airlines rather than railroads. As the rail scheduled continued to shrink, Amtrak stopped using Union Station on October 31, 1978.
The station was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1970.
The historical drawing and blueprints for the station and the hotel are available to researchers at the Washington University Archives at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.