- Union Station (Omaha)
name = Union Station
caption = Inside Union Station.
location= Omaha, NE
The Union Station, at 801 South 10th Street in
Omaha, Nebraska, United States, is "one of the finest examples of Art Decoarchitecture in the Midwest." [(nd) [http://www.ci.omaha.ne.us/landmarks/designated_landmarks/landmarks/6/Default.htm "Union Station".] City of Omaha Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission. Retrieved 7/8/07.] Designated an Omaha Landmark in 1978, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Placesin 1971. [(nd) [http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/ne/Douglas/state3.html National Register of Historic Places - Douglas County, Nebraska] . Retrieved 7/8/07.] The Union Station is also a contributing property to the Omaha Rail and Commerce Historic District. It was America's first Art Decorailroad station, [Johnson, C. (2001) " [http://www.southplattepress.com/current/unionstation.html Union Pacific and Omaha Union Station:A History pf Union Pacific Railroad Passenger Station in Omaha, Nebraska 1866-1971.] " South Platte Press. pp. 24. Retrieved 7/8/07.] [Durham Western Heritage Museum. (nd) [http://www.dwhm.org/MuseumExterior.asp Museum Exterior Architecture.] Retrieved 7/14/07.] [Beman, A. (nd) [http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=WSArticlePage&pagename=WhistleStop%2FWSArticlePage%2FFeature_Story&cid=1178293968700&_ndx=3 "I Get a Kick Outta Train Number 6: New Friends and Fuzzy Slippers on the California Zephyr,"] Amtrak. Retrieved 7/14/07.] and the completion of the terminal "firmly established Omaha as an important railroad terminus in the Midwest." [(2007) [http://www.nebraskahistory.org/histpres/nebraska/douglas2.htm "More Nebraska National Register Sites in Douglas County,"] Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved 7/15/07.]
Between 1866 and 1971, Omaha was served by a succession of different station buildings reflecting Omaha's growing importance as the nation's fourth-largest railroad center. The 801 South Tenth Street site hosted two different buildings before the currently existing station. The first station was a "cowshed" station that was dismantled in 1890. Financial concerns kept a new station from being constructed for the next eight years and a temporary depot was used on the site. The pressure was on to build a new station in conjunction with the development of the neighboring
Burlington Station, and with the impending start of the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition.
The second depot was designed by
Chicagoarchitect Charles Frost, and construction began in October, 1898. Completed on December 1, 1899at a cost of $405,782, the building's façade rose 60 feet above the Tenth Street Viaduct the building faced. It was primarily built from pressed brick made in Omaha, as well as Bedford stone used in the architectural details. A canopy of glass and iron protected passengers from the elements as they entered the station, and three synchronized clocks were visible both day and night from different directions. The tracks had the modern innovation of interlocking switches on all tracks approaching or serving the station. [Johnson, C. (2001) pp. 24-28.] [(nd) [http://www.memories.ne.gov/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/opl&CISOPTR=76&CISOBOX=1&REC=8 Union Station] . Nebraska Memories - State of Nebraska. Retrieved 7/13/07.]
Gilbert Stanley Underwoodof Los Angeles, the current building features a steel framestructure that is clad with cream-colored glazed terra cotta. [(nd) [http://www.ci.omaha.ne.us/landmarks/designated_landmarks/landmarks/6/Default.htm "Union Station".] City of Omaha Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission. Retrieved 7/8/07.] Groundbreaking occurred on July 29, 1929, and the building was completed on January 15, 1931. The 124,000-square-foot cost $3.5 million to build. [Durham Western Heritage Museum. (nd) [http://www.dwhm.org/MuseumExterior.asp Museum Exterior Architecture.] Retrieved 7/14/07.] Of the building's design, Underwood was said to have remarked, "We have tried to express the distinctive character of the railroad: strength, power, masculinity." [Potter, J. G. (1996) "Great American Railroad Stations." John Wiley and Sons. p. 377.] At its dedication, Carl R. Gray, president of the Union Pacific, declared the station to be, "Dedicated by the railways of Omaha to serve, comfort and convenience of the people." [Durham Western Heritage Museum. (nd) [http://www.dwhm.org/MuseumExterior.asp Museum Exterior Architecture.] Retrieved 7/14/07.]
The construction of the station was preceded by the construction of the
Burlington Train Stationone block away. Within ten years that station was served by seven railroads. [Johnson, C. " [http://www.southplattepress.com/current/unionstation.html Union Pacific and the Omaha Union Station.] " South Platte Press. Retrieved 7/8/07.] Upon its completion, the Union Station became renowned for its technological innovations, including electric luggage conveyor belts, escalators and extensive lighting throughout the building. Simultaneously, patrons and critics alike appreciated the traditional and lavish attributes of the building, including massive women's restrooms, beautiful marble columns and flooring throughout, and deep oak woodwork surrounding every window and door in the station. [ (1939) "Railroad Age." Simmons-Boardman. p. 134.] During its first year, 1.5 million passengers passed through. [Durham Western Heritage Museum. (nd) [http://www.dwhm.org/MuseumExterior.asp Museum Exterior Architecture.] Retrieved 7/14/07.]
By 1946, 64 steam locomotives were in operation bringing 10,000 passengers daily in and out of the Union Station. [Cook, H. (1997) "Renovation keeps museum on track," "Building Design and Construction". April.] However, within a decade everything changed. In 1956 the
Chicago and North Western Railroadstopped its line running through Omaha. 1960 saw the exit of Wabash Railroad. In 1965 the Missouri Pacific Railroadand the Chicago Great Western Railwayquit running, followed by the Rock Island Railroadin 1969. Passenger service ceased in 1971, and the Union Station was donated to the City of Omaha by the Union Pacific Railroadin 1973. [Holland, K. (2001) "Classic American Railroad Terminals." MBI Publishing Company. p. 122.]
That year the station quickly became the home of the
Durham Western Heritage Museum. The Union Pacific Museum and Archives were also located there. In 1997 the Union Station underwent a renovation that included a 22,000 square foot addition and new climate controls for the museum [Cook, H. (1997) "Renovation keeps museum on track," "Building Design and Construction". April.] , and today the building is a contributing property to the Omaha Rail and Commerce Historic District, bordering the Old Market Historic Districtand Omaha's Little Italy.
Landmarks in Omaha
History of Omaha
* [http://www.historicomaha.com/unionsta.jpgHistoric postcard]
* [http://www.lincoln-highway-museum.org/Email/46/UStation-1-75.jpgPhoto of front entrance]
* [http://www.archsculptbooks.com/neb07omahaunionstation.htm Architectural sculpture on the station]
* (1973) "Historical Architecture of Omaha" by Henry W. Wong.
* (2001) "Union Pacific and Omaha Union Station" by Carla Johnson.
* (1999) "Omaha railroad Stations" by John Peterson.
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