Downtown ticket offices

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I have some business in DC today, and as I was walking past 17th and K Sts. NW, I remembered that there used to be an Amtrak ticket office on the 1700 block of K St. In fact. back in the 1980s I did some business there, changing some tickets. It was next to an American Airlines downtown ticket office. Back in the day, all the major airlines had downtown ticket offices, as it was a great convenience for their business customers not to have to go all the way out to the airport.

Did Amtrak have downtown ticket offices in any other cities? Does anyone know when the Washington downtown ticket office was closed? I can imagine that smartphones have made such things redundant, but I think they went away long before smartphones became common.
 
I have some business in DC today, and as I was walking past 17th and K Sts. NW, I remembered that there used to be an Amtrak ticket office on the 1700 block of K St. In fact. back in the 1980s I did some business there, changing some tickets. It was next to an American Airlines downtown ticket office. Back in the day, all the major airlines had downtown ticket offices, as it was a great convenience for their business customers not to have to go all the way out to the airport.

Did Amtrak have downtown ticket offices in any other cities? Does anyone know when the Washington downtown ticket office was closed? I can imagine that smartphones have made such things redundant, but I think they went away long before smartphones became common.
Golly. That's a good question. I too remember visiting downtown ticket offices in the 1980s, TWA and Pan Am and Northwest Orient; in DC they all seemed to cluster around the area you mention, which was also near leading hotels (Mayflower, Capitol Hilton née Statler Hilton of Born Yesterday fame, Hay-Adams, etc.). And I also distinctly remember moving to e-tickets in the 1990s. That was when most people, well most people in the "flying classes" anyway, got an email address and access to a printer or maybe an assistant to handle all that drudgery for them. (My tech-phobic retired aunt and uncle paid a travel agent to do that stuff.) I would identify the turning point as the Internet, which long preceded smartphones.
 
The demand for downtown ticket offices appeared to outlast the offices themselves. In Portland, Oregon, Sunset Tours opened a downtown office next door to the Northwest Airlines office and laid it out like a ticket office. It may have been the UP city ticket office before that line moved to a smaller location. It started in the heyday of the CNR Red-White-and-Blue fares and CPR still had a core network. They knew Canadian travel, so people thought it was a city ticket office. There was a side door connecting them with NWA, and it was mutually beneficial for selling one-way rail + other-way air. I recall getting a rare seat on NWA during a UAL strike through Sunset Tours in December 1975 or spring of 1976.

My big trip "back East" to Chicago and St. Louis in 1967 was booked through the Northern Pacific city ticket office in Portland. It was their agent who helped me book over 1500 miles of extra rail travel on optional routings at no extra charge. He also tipped me off to the best platform in the Northwestern Station to watch the "for-profit" C&NW rush hour, routed me on the Green Diamond so I could watch the IC Electric trains in the morning peak, and recommended two Chicago restaurants that turned out to be at prices that I could afford and were excellent. Mentioning his name got me extra service in both. After that, I sent several of my peers to the NP for their trip East.

And then there was the opposite approach -- the SP! In Portland we had all three approaches to rail passenger service from 1958 to 1971: the Northern Lines with a friendly approach at their prime downtown street corner, the Union Pacific with a businesslike demeanor moving to a smaller downtown office, and then -- the SP. "Find us if you dare!"

1958 02 02 SP Ticket Office moves 031.jpg
 
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The demand for downtown ticket offices appeared to outlast the offices themselves. In Portland, Oregon, Sunset Tours opened a downtown office next door to the Northwest Airlines office and laid it out like a ticket office. It may have been the UP city ticket office before that line moved to a smaller location. It started in the heyday of the CNR Red-White-and-Blue fares and CPR still had a core network. They knew Canadian travel, so people thought it was a city ticket office. There was a side door connecting them with NWA, and it was mutually beneficial for selling one-way rail + other-way air. I recall getting a rare seat on NWA during a UAL strike through Sunset Tours in December 1975 or spring of 1976.

My big trip "back East" to Chicago and St. Louis in 1967 was booked through the Northern Pacific city ticket office in Portland. It was their agent who helped me book over 1500 miles of extra rail travel on optional routings at no extra charge. He also tipped me off to the best platform in the Northwestern Station to watch the "for-profit" C&NW rush hour, routed me on the Green Diamond so I could watch the IC Electric trains in the morning peak, and recommended two Chicago restaurants that turned out to be at prices that I could afford and were excellent. Mentioning his name got me extra service in both. After that, I sent several of my peers to the NP for their trip East.

And then there was the opposite approach -- the SP! In Portland we had all three approaches to rail passenger service from 1958 to 1971: the Northern Lines with a friendly approach at their prime downtown street corner, the Union Pacific with a businesslike demeanor moving to a smaller downtown office, and then -- the SP. "Find us if you dare!"

View attachment 34789
I well remember when SP started their " Run em Off Campaign".

Even when you could locate a Ticket Office ( or talk with an Agent @ a Station,)they either would tell you that the Trains were Full or if wanting a Sleeper, that the Trains you wanted didn't have Sleepers( and also no Diner!)🤬🤪
 
I used timetables.org to check the timetable that was in effect 40 years ago (October 30, 1983 issue), and here are Amtrak's city ticket offices from back then:

Boston
Statler Office Building, 13-15 Columbus Ave.
(another Boston location at 10-12 Park Plaza was listed as "coming soon")

Chicago
505 N. Michigan Ave.
Palmer House Hotel, 17 E. Monroe St.

Los Angeles
Del Amo Fashion Center, Torrance
533 W. 6th St. (joint office with American Airlines)

New York
Rockefeller Plaza, 12 W. 51st St.
1 E. 59th St.
1 World Trade Center (Lobby)

Philadelphia
1708 John F. Kennedy Blvd.

Washington D.C.
1721 K St.
Nassif Building, Room 3248
U.S. Capitol, Room S-101
Pentagon Concourse
 
I remember my father bringing home tickets from the downtown B&O ticket office in Wilmington. He said the agent told him our train would have brand new sleepers on it. Turns out they were 16duplex roomettes/4dbr in the ’Bird’ series- Thrush, Oriole, etc

Much later, late 80’s, I often walked around the corner to the airline ticket office downtown Baltimore to pick up tickets for a business trip.
 
Rockefeller Center had many travel services. And correcting the above, most people did not pay travel agents, they worked on commission. They charged the same fares as the airlines (except Southwest, etc.). Just before, or as, the World Wide Web was invented with Mosaic, you could get a free account on Sabre, the same online system travel agents used for airline tickets. You could only search schedules, not make reservations. Before that, many people subscribed to a thick booklet called Official Airline Guide (OAG), that had every schedule.
 
I used timetables.org to check the timetable that was in effect 40 years ago (October 30, 1983 issue), and here are Amtrak's city ticket offices from back then:............................
That's great! United Airlines had a city ticket office in the Brown Palace Hotel when I moved to Denver in 1985. I remember picking up a business trip ticket at UAL in 1987. Continental was in a cheaper location just down the street. I think Continental's was the last to go in Denver, relating to the timing on their lease.

In Portland, there is a vestigial remnant of the days when CPR spanned the world. I haven't checked the status of this piece of art lately. It was in one of the most prominent locations to be found in the 1910's - the SW 3rd Avenue side of the new and grand Multnomah Hotel.

2016 photo
P1040545.JPG

1912 02 25 Oregonian CPR ad.jpg
 
I used timetables.org to check the timetable that was in effect 40 years ago (October 30, 1983 issue), and here are Amtrak's city ticket offices from back then:

Boston
Statler Office Building, 13-15 Columbus Ave.
(another Boston location at 10-12 Park Plaza was listed as "coming soon")

Chicago
505 N. Michigan Ave.
Palmer House Hotel, 17 E. Monroe St.

Los Angeles
Del Amo Fashion Center, Torrance
533 W. 6th St. (joint office with American Airlines)

New York
Rockefeller Plaza, 12 W. 51st St.
1 E. 59th St.
1 World Trade Center (Lobby)

Philadelphia
1708 John F. Kennedy Blvd.

Washington D.C.
1721 K St.
Nassif Building, Room 3248
U.S. Capitol, Room S-101
Pentagon Concourse
I recall those listed for New York...the one at Rockefeller Center was a very busy one. Prior to Amtrak, it was a ticket and travel center for the Seaboard Coast Line RR. Not listed for New York, was the one in the Eastern Central Reservations Office, which Amtrak had moved to a new location on Glen Cove Road, in Carle Place, LI. That place closed and became a furniture store...

I recall the ones on 17th Street in Denver, when I first went thru there in the late '60's... The Burlington and the Union Pacific offices were decorated outside, in the manner of their respective streamlined trains of the era...
 
I made a circle trip out west in 1970. I lived in Jeffersonville, IN at the time. My ticket was issued by Santa Fe's traveling agent in Cincinnati. I had to make a change whilest enroute in Los Angeles so I went to the Santa Fe City ticket office near the Biltmore Hotel. The agent who waited on me was very helpful. While I had traveled mostly Santa Fe on the trip so far, the rest of the trip was Espee, D&RGW and Burlington Northern. Even though the change didn't involve Santa Fe, the agent was pleased to help none the less. We talked about possible changes coming up since Amtrak was in its embrionic state at that point.
 
I used timetables.org to check the timetable that was in effect 40 years ago (October 30, 1983 issue), and here are Amtrak's city ticket offices from back then:


Philadelphia
1708 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Was this the ticket office in Suburban Station, or was there a separate office at street level? I don't remember it, as I moved out of Philadelphia in 1975. Back in the 1970s and early 80s, Amtrak served Suburban Station with the predecessors of the Keystone trains, so this would be a station ticket office.
 
I used timetables.org to check the timetable that was in effect 40 years ago (October 30, 1983 issue), and here are Amtrak's city ticket offices from back then:

[snipped]
New York
Rockefeller Plaza, 12 W. 51st St.
1 E. 59th St.
1 World Trade Center (Lobby)

Philadelphia
1708 John F. Kennedy Blvd.

Washington D.C.
1721 K St.
Nassif Building, Room 3248
U.S. Capitol, Room S-101
Pentagon Concourse

I'm getting a kick out of the ones at Pentagon Concourse and the U.S. Capitol, Senate side. Although I suppose they primarily served DoD employees and Congressional Members and staff, respectively, this was an era when any ordinary civilian could enter those buildings, no bag checks, no metal detectors. Not anymore. Also amusing is the reference to the "Nassif Building," as if any average Joe would know where that is. It was built between 1967-69 and occupied by the newly-unified Department of Transportation till 2006, then renovated and now called the Constitution Center. In my opinion it was ugly then and ugly now but whaddya expect given its era.

Of course the one at 1 World Trade Center triggers grief.
 
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