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A Pale Shadow of Its Former Self

February 15, 2010

At its height, St. Louis Union Station was the terminal for the passenger services of 22 railroads, the most of any single terminal in the world. 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 the 1940s, it handled 100,000 passengers a day.

With the decline of passenger service in the 1950s and 1960s, the massive station became way too large and expensive.

MP E8A 38 pulls out of the trainshed at St. Louis Union Station on May 24, 1970.

By the time of the above photo, St. Louis passenger service had dropped to only 3 trains per day. When Amtrak took over the operation of inter-city passenger trains in 1971, it continued using St. Louis Union Station until 1978.

This terminal did not meet the same fate (wrecking ball) as most other large passenger terminals. Federal historic rehabilitation tax credits to the tune of $150 million were used to transform Union Station into one of the city’s most visited attractions, including a 539-room hotel, shopping mall, restaurants and food court.

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