Kansas City, Missouri
30 West Pershing Road Union Station, Suite 160 Kansas City, MO 64108
- Annual Station Revenue (2013)
- Annual Station Ridership (2013)
|Facility Ownership||Union Station Kansas City, Inc.|
|Parking Lot Ownership||Union Station Kansas City, Inc.|
|Platform Ownership||Kansas City Terminal Railway Company|
|Track Ownership||Kansas City Terminal Railway Company|
|ATM||Accessible Payphones||Accessible Platform|
|Accessible Restrooms||Accessible Ticket Office||Accessible Waiting Room|
|Accessible Water Fountain||Baggage Storage||Bike Boxes|
|Checked Baggage||Dedicated Parking||Elevator|
|Elevator Accessible||Enclosed Waiting Area||Help With Luggage|
|Long Term Parking Spaces||Parking Attendant||Pay Phones|
|Quik Trak Kiosk||Restrooms||Shipping Boxes|
|Short Term Parking Spaces||Ticket Office||Wheelchair|
- Missouri River Runner
- Southwest Chief
Local Community Links:
The Kansas City Terminal Railway, a company formed by the twelve railroads serving the city, built the Beaux Arts limestone and granite Kansas City Union Station that we see today. Excavation began in 1911; and on October 30, 1914, Kansas City Union Station opened as the third-largest train station in the country. Kansas City Union Station was built to reflect the city’s status as a central hub of both passenger and freight rail.
The original Union Depot in Kansas City’s West Bottoms area was replaced after a 1903 flood inundated the old depot and convinced city leaders to rebuild on higher ground.
The magnificent station building encompasses 850,000 square feet of space, and originally had 900 rooms and 10 levels. The main Grand Hall was intended for ticketing and the North Waiting Hall, extending perpendicularly from the main hall and over the railway tracks, for passenger waiting. The ceiling in the Grand Hall is 95 feet high and there are three chandeliers in it, each weighing 3,500 lbs. The six-foot-high Grand Hall clock hangs at its center, the nexus of the Grand and North Halls. The North Waiting Hall, with its 65-foot ceiling, can contain an assemblage of 10,000 people.
Designed by Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt, a proponent of the City Beautiful movement, the station uses plastered frescoes on the coffered ceiling of the Grand Hall, rose-brown marble floors throughout the main areas, and both light and dark stone facings on the interior walls. Three enormous, deep-set arches face the front, on Pershing Drive, and render the Grand Hall light and airy. More arched windows similarly light the North Hall.
Kansas City has long been a meeting place and transition point; it is located at the confluence of Missouri and Kansas Rivers, and was declared by Lewis and Clark to be a “good place for a fort” when they visited it after the Louisiana Purchase. The first recorded European settler in the Kansas City area was a French fur trader, Étienne de Veniard in the early 18th century; many other fur traders worked out of the Kansas City area in those early years. Throughout the nineteenth centuries, its central location made it an ideal launching place for travelers passing westward on the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California trails, and the city has long been considered a gateway to the American West.
Known first as the City of Kansas, the city was incorporated in 1850 in a 0.70 square-mile area south of the Missouri River, electing the first mayor in February of 1853. The city sits on a landscape of rolling hills and much of it is on 100- to 200-foot bluffs overlooking the rivers and river bottoms.
With the building of the Hannibal railroad bridge across the Missouri River in 1869, Kansas City became a central location for 11 trunk railroads.
Kansas City Union Station history has not been entirely peaceful; the station made headlines on June 17, 1933, when four unarmed FBI agents were gunned down by gang members attempting to free captured fugitive, Frank Nash. The “Kansas City Massacre” resulted in the arming of all FBI agents.
Today, Kansas City is known for both its particular styles of Blues, steak, and barbecue, as well as being the “City of Fountains,” having over 200 fountains; indeed, a fountain forms the logo for the city.
Kansas City Union Station was also home to the headquarters of the Fred Harvey Company between its opening and 1938. Harvey was the initiator of the first national chain of hotels and restaurants—as well as the idea of shops for travelers in the Union Station. Harvey sold his idea of excellent restaurants for travelers to the Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, which then let Harvey operate restaurants and build hotels along its routes—many of which have since become National Landmarks. Mary Jane Coulter became the company’s architect in the early 1900s and worked out of a studio in Kansas City Union Station. She went on to design buildings such as the Posada Hotel in Winslow, AZ, and Hopi House in Grand Canyon national Park, among many notable structures.
Kansas City Union Station has been revived from a sad state of dilapidation in the mid-twentieth century. At one time in 1917, as many as 300 trains passed through this station; traffic peaked at 79,368 trains that year. In 1945, annual passenger traffic at Kansas City Union Station peaked at 678, 363; but by 1973, with the increase of automotive traffic on the interstate highway system, only 38,842 passengers passed through the station, with only six trains a day.
From 1971 to 1985, Amtrak took over running the passenger trains through Kansas City Union Station. In 1985, Amtrak moved the passenger operations to a small building on Main Street, around the corner from Kansas City Union Station, and the building was no longer used. Nonetheless, Kansas City Union Station was listed as a structure of national status in the National Register of Historic Places in February, 1972.
In 1974, the Kansas City Terminal Railway and a private developer, Trizec, a Canadian redevelopment firm, made a deal to redevelop the station. Between 1979 and 1986, Trizec constructed two office buildings adjacent to Kansas City Union Station, but did not redevelop the site. In 1988, the city filed suit against Trizec for failure to redevelop the station. The legal battle concluded with the formation of the Union Station Assistance Corporation, which began planning renovation in earnest.
In 1996, residents in five adjacent counties approved a 1/8 cent sales tax, part of which funded half of the $250-million restoration project. More funding was also provided by private foundations as well as state and federal grants.
Renovations were completed by November, 1999. The Kansas City Museum, as Science City, was a major participant in the restoration. The new science museum occupied the space left by the old train sheds next to the North Waiting Hall.
The new construction faced many challenges, including providing modern spaces and identity for Science City and yet maintaining the terminal’s integrity, as well as keeping within budget. This challenge was undertaken by a joint venture architectural team of Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn of New York and SmithGroup of Washington, D.C. The architects remained true to Hunt’s original vision. Indeed, the restoration team went to great lengths to match colors, shapes and styles of the original plaster and marble. They managed to do this with extensive initial investigation, resulting in a cost savings.
Today, Kansas City Union Station provides not only intermodal transportation, but also serves as a destination in itself, with the large interactive science museum, rail exhibit, Irish museum, five-story Regnier Extreme Screen theater and Gottlieb Planetarium, the Block theater, as well as restaurants, shops, and event spaces. Kansas City Union Station is self-supporting now, due to its various partnerships.
The station has a ticket office and help with baggage during station hours.
Kansas City Union Station is served daily by six trains.