Most Beautiful Train Stations in the US

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Willbridge

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The first time I saw the new improved Denver station, I could stand in a certain spot and visualize the cheap rundown lunch counter. What a change!
I used to have lunch there where I could "accidentally" meet 'Mac' McSpadden, the terminal company's general manager. We could trade information on the latest attempts to un-track the building and talk about a future intermodal station.

1990 024.jpg1990 025.jpg
 

Bob Dylan

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I used to have lunch there where I could "accidentally" meet 'Mac' McSpadden, the terminal company's general manager. We could trade information on the latest attempts to un-track the building and talk about a future intermodal station.

View attachment 23037View attachment 23038
I remember it well!( and also when you could afford to live in Downtown Denver before it was " Discovered")
 

Willbridge

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Wow, thanks for that picture of the lunch counter. I search the web but couldn't find one.

It was in pretty bad shape the last time I saw it.
There was a certain self-fulfilling nature as to how the renovation became necessary. The terminal company and then new owner RTD refused to sign long-term leases with the restaurant/lounge, the snack bar, the gift shop and businesses on the upper floors. The reason was because it was going to be redeveloped and they didn't want to be obstructed by leaseholders. So the place started to look more rundown than it would have otherwise.

What Dana Crawford gets credit for was the imaginative redevelopment. It could have been done in a boring, functional way and probably would not have been as profitable for the tenants. Because of her previous Denver projects she had the stature to do things that a new entrant or a conventional national development firm would not have been likely to attempt.

My favorite part of it is the bar on the second floor (in the balcony above the old ticket office). In December 1985 I was a volunteer with the NRHS decoration of the station for the holidays. I was brand-new in Denver. I learned that this was where the USO was in WWII. I looked up frosty 17th Street and thought it would be nice to have a bar with that view for early evenings when the street was well lit. Only three decades later, I got my wish. (Note to travelers: pre-pandemic it took time to get a good seat there. Don't try to squeeze in a last minute beverage.)

My account may seem trivial but cross-check this with the long list of stations that are gone or in terrible need of renovation to accommodate the proposed corridor services, let alone any long distance service. It took three decades of struggle in Denver to proceed from planning for an Amshack in the freight yards or near the refinery in Commerce City to the grand re-opening; the redevelopment that we see today took about a decade.

The pieces of the Portland intermodal terminal complex took about the same amount of time. In 1974 I started meeting for ODOT with Portland people regarding that Union Station and discovered as a first step that they needed to be introduced to each other. It was no surprise eleven years later to start with the same problem in Denver.

1990 027.jpg
1990 028.jpg
1990 047.jpg
1990 049.jpg
 
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fdaley

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So true! I had a college spring vacation trip to Denver to ride the Royal Gorge (only to Parkdale) and the Yampa Valley Mail. I stayed at the Oxford hotel very near the station for maybe $20+ when it was almost a derelict building with a sketchy walk to the station. Rooms there are now $200+. But then that was more than 50 years ago!
My wife has told me a number of times over the years about stopping over in Denver on a family train trip between California and Virginia in the '70s, when she was in her early teens. She remembers staying at the Oxford, which was pretty run down, and walking past a bunch of homeless people who were sleeping on the sidewalk on a bitterly cold night as she and her parents made their way from Union Station to the hotel. She thought Denver was a dump.
 
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bms

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Philadelphia's 30th Street Station always was my favorite, but in recent years, the local law enforcement has taken to walking dogs around the station to sniff bags. Of course I had nothing illegal in my bags, but it doesn't seem right to treat all passengers as criminals simply because they're using public transportation.
 

MARC Rider

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From the other side, one of the most non-beautiful stations around is Boston Back Bay. The granite seating benches look really hard, the Amtrak ticket window is closed (but they have 2 Quick-trak machines, and the departure board shows only MBTA commuter trains.

Plus, the T fare machine wouldn't read my Charlie Card and allow me to buy a pass until an attendant came by.

It's convenient, Ill say that, but not much else.
Just a couple pix from Back Bay to illustrate what I wrote.20210623_084603.jpg

20210623_084024.jpg
 

Tlcooper93

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Just a couple pix from Back Bay to illustrate what I wrote.View attachment 23061

View attachment 23062
Back Bay is pretty abysmal, but it’s functionality is quite good (but that’s beside the point).

the outside of Back Bay in my opinion is fine, especially the neat looking arch.

it’s the inside, and platforms (especially the LSL/Worcester Line platforms) that are horrendous.
 

MARC Rider

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It's ultra expensive, but a Luxury Hotel for sure!

That area of Denver is THE Place to go to now, it used to be really dumpy and rundown!
I started going to Denver for occasional work-related stuff in 1979. We had plenty of time after work to explore the city, and I never found it dumpy and rundown. In particular, we used to go downtown to Larimer Square where they were redeveloping things and there were restaurants and nightspots. I once went to the botanic Garden before I caught my flight home, which was pretty neat. Of course, if we were out there over a weekend, the mountains were a bigger draw than the city, but I found it to be a perfectly fine city to knock around in. Every time I went there, though, it seemed like the metro area was expanding, though I also drove through very nice older neighborhoods in the city itself. During my last trip in 2015 (which was part of a vacation trip), I was amazed at the yuppification around Union Station and the stadium, but I think the rest of the city was pretty much what I remembered from my last work trip there in the early 1990s (except that the traffic was 1,000 times worse.)
 
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I used to have lunch there where I could "accidentally" meet 'Mac' McSpadden, the terminal company's general manager. We could trade information on the latest attempts to un-track the building and talk about a future intermodal station.

View attachment 23037View attachment 23038
I can't quite make out who was working the ticket window, but I can recognize the two behind the lunch counter...:)
 
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There was a certain self-fulfilling nature as to how the renovation became necessary. The terminal company and then new owner RTD refused to sign long-term leases with the restaurant/lounge, the snack bar, the gift shop and businesses on the upper floors. The reason was because it was going to be redeveloped and they didn't want to be obstructed by leaseholders. So the place started to look more rundown than it would have otherwise.

What Dana Crawford gets credit for was the imaginative redevelopment. It could have been done in a boring, functional way and probably would not have been as profitable for the tenants. Because of her previous Denver projects she had the stature to do things that a new entrant or a conventional national development firm would not have been likely to attempt.

My favorite part of it is the bar on the second floor (in the balcony above the old ticket office). In December 1985 I was a volunteer with the NRHS decoration of the station for the holidays. I was brand-new in Denver. I learned that this was where the USO was in WWII. I looked up frosty 17th Street and thought it would be nice to have a bar with that view for early evenings when the street was well lit. Only three decades later, I got my wish. (Note to travelers: pre-pandemic it took time to get a good seat there. Don't try to squeeze in a last minute beverage.)

My account may seem trivial but cross-check this with the long list of stations that are gone or in terrible need of renovation to accommodate the proposed corridor services, let alone any long distance service. It took three decades of struggle in Denver to proceed from planning for an Amshack in the freight yards or near the refinery in Commerce City to the grand re-opening; the redevelopment that we see today took about a decade.

The pieces of the Portland intermodal terminal complex took about the same amount of time. In 1974 I started meeting for ODOT with Portland people regarding that Union Station and discovered as a first step that they needed to be introduced to each other. It was no surprise eleven years later to start with the same problem in Denver.

View attachment 23041
View attachment 23042
View attachment 23043
View attachment 23044
Thanks for those nostalgic photo's...I spent ten years working (and even longer, playing) in that station...:)
 

Willbridge

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My wife has told me a number of times over the years about stopping over in Denver on a family train trip between California and Virginia in the '70s, when she was in her early teens. She remembers staying at the Oxford, which was pretty run down, and walking past a bunch of homeless people who were sleeping on the sidewalk on a bitterly cold night as she and her parents made their way from Union Station to the hotel. She thought Denver was a dump.
Renovating the Oxford was one of Dana Crawford's early project. RTD lodged me there when I came for my job interview in 1985, partly for convenience and partly to help them out because the renovated hotel was struggling. ColoRail held a number of meetings there, beginning with the "Save Our Station" rally, for which John Hickenlooper donated a keg of Wynkoop Brewing Co. beer.
 

HP_Lovecraft

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Back Bay is pretty abysmal, but it’s functionality is quite good (but that’s beside the point).
I think the first time I road from WAS to POR, I made the mistake of getting off at BBY instead of BOS.... and I was alarmed. Dark, damp, smelly, and noisy.

I love large, grand stations. Many in the east still in operation. Even New Haven and Springfield are wonderful. One oddball that might be my favorite: Brightline at MCO. absolutely massive, with enormous glass walls and ceilings. Granted, with all that empty space, its easier to build something huge... not so easy in a crowded city
 
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joelkfla

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One oddball that might be my favorite: Brightline at MCO. absolutely massive, with enormous glass walls and ceilings. Granted, with all that empty space, its easier to build something huge... not so easy in a crowded city
I disagree. To me, it's just a modern terminal building. It's nice enough, but not in the same class as GCT or Washington Union Station, or even Moynihan.
 
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