Utica, NY (UCA)
321 Main Street
Boehlert Transportation Center
Utica, NY 13501
Note: Fiscal year is from
October through September.
County of Oneida
County of Oneida
The historic Utica station was opened for the New York Central (NYC) Railroad on May 24, 1914, and became a Union Station in late 1915 when the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad and the New York, Ontario & Western Railroad moved their services to this riverside terminal. Amtrak passengers today use the restored waiting room of this staffed station, and instead of crossing under the tracks to the platforms as they once did, they use an enclosed aerial walkway.
The 1914 NYC station was the third to be built on that site to serve New York’s “Water Level Route.” The Utica & Schenectady Railroad built the first station in 1836, and it quickly became a waystation on the route west as other railroads came through. These railroads were combined in 1853 to form the New York Central. In 1855, when the Utica and Black River began running north-south trains, Utica was the transfer point for tourists bound for Trenton Falls. This line is now the Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern and carries the Adirondack Scenic Railroad out of Utica as far as Remsen, N.Y.
In 1869, the NYC opened another station, converted from a two shop buildings with open-air platforms between the waiting room and the restaurant. By 1900, this oft-flooding station had become completely inadequate, and a new building project began. Between 1901 and 1907 a new channel was dug for the Mohawk River a half-mile to the north, and part of the old riverbed became the Barge Canal harbor. The old channel behind the station was filled to create more room for additional platforms and tracks. Train service on the site was maintained during construction, necessitating a temporary wood-frame station complete with umbrella sheds, new platforms, and a portion of the passenger subway that was to pass beneath all the tracks.
Its designers, architects Allen H. Stem and Alfred Fellheimer of New York City, brought to this project experience from building other notable stations such as New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, Detroit Michigan’s Central Station and the Art Deco Cincinnati Union Terminal. They created a classically-inspired Beaux Arts terminal station. Situated in downtown Utica on the flats south of the Mohawk River. Three stories high, this monumental building is symmetrically rectangular in plan, with thirteen bays across the façade and fifteen across the side elevations. The walls of the first story are faced with large granite blocks, while the second and third are faced with grey brick. Details such as the capitals and tops of the pilasters are executed in limestone. A prominent cornice casts a deep shadow at the roof line and a brick parapet encircles the building. A large clock is centered at the roofline over the entrance.
Each exterior bay consists of a tall arched window on the first story, a square-headed window with bracketed sill and cornice on the brackets and a simple square-headed window on the third story. Pilasters frame each bay on the second story and extra pilasters accentuate the corners of the structure.
The interior is as impressive as the exterior. The central main waiting room rises to a barrel-vaulted ceiling thirty-five feet at its peak. The entire ceiling, including the vault, is decorated coffers which were once gilded. The vault is supported on each side by a row of concrete and steel columns faced with Botticino marble. The floor is terrazzo. Grey Vermont marble and grey Knoxville marble are used on the interior wall facings and ticket windows. Long wooden benches furnish the waiting room, and a restaurant originally sat at the west end of the building. The building cost $1 million to build in 1914 dollars.
When the Utica station was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 28, 1975, it belonged to the Penn Central Railroad, successor to the NYC, and was badly deteriorated, but not beyond saving. State Assemblyman Nicholas J. Calogero spearheaded the movement to restore the station, but was strenuously opposed, as the estimates for the work ran as high as $6.5 million for a station that has cost $1 million to build. However the turning point was learning that over 100 jobs would be lost to Utica if Amtrak had to move the switching control from the premises to another city. Finally, Oneida County purchased the station from the bankrupt Penn Central and turned it over to Oneida County Industrial Development Corporation to fund it.
Oneida County, now the station’s owner, began managing the restorations in 1978, and the project has been continuing in phases since then. Redevelopment efforts have focused on maintaining and enhancing the station’s multimodal functions, as it also serves the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, inter-city and local city buses. Additionally, the station houses various Oneida County offices, retail establishments, a restaurant and banquet facilities. So successful was the initial restoration that in 1979, the station was designated as the official rail terminal of the 1980 Winter Olympics; and the Landmark Society held several dances in the main hall to celebrate the restoration.
The first phase of renovations was contracted through the New York State Department of Transportation and included improved road access, landscaping, lighting, drainage, and parking, totally $2.2 million, $1.5 million of which came from the Federal Highway Administration. Phase two was completed in 1997, at a cost of $2.4 million, using $1.9 million in federal transportation grants. Improvements included a new roof, new electric and water service, public restroom renovations, clock repair, new public elevators, ground level walkway to track, and renovation of office spaces in the second and third floors.
Completed in 2002, the third phase focused on redevelopment of the station including exterior renovations and public access and site security measures. The overhead enclosed walkway and towers were built in this phase. Funding for this phase totaled about $5.25 million, with $4.2 Million in federal transportation grants.
Phase four included refurbishing the existing canopies on the main station building as well as canopies on the connected Railway Express Building. Lead and asbestos abatement were conducted, roofing and decking materials replaced, and structural steel repaired and reconditioned. This phase has also addressed interior lobby and storefront restoration back to historically appropriate condition; the terrazzo floor has been repaired, cleaned, and refinished. Modern signage will be replaced with historically appropriate signage. Continuing ventilation, moisture, electrical and mechanical issues will also be addressed. The total estimated cost for phase four was $2.1 million, and most of it was completed in 2005.
Phase five, in progress, included replacement of window on the second and third floors with energy-efficient units. Problems with the public address system for both train and bus areas are to be addressed. Oneida County has requested federal funding to address continual improvements and restorations, as well as the redevelopment of the Railway Express building and other historic and preservation needs. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is in progress with projects related to its operations, which include side track construction and installation of lifts to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Utica’s Union Station is also within the historic downtown, less than a mile from Bagg’s Square, where Utica was founded. Before European-descended settlers came to the area, this very shallow area on the Mohawk River had been much used by the native inhabitants as not only a ford but as a trading area. In 1758, the English built Fort Schuyler there, as part of a chain of forts for protection of their colonists and the fur trade with the west during the French and Indian war, and its protection attracted traders. After the American Revolution, the fort itself was abandoned. When the former Fort Stanwix near present-day Rome, N.Y. was renamed Fort Schuyler, the Mohawk River location became known as Old Fort Schuyler. Roads built to Albany crossing the Mohawk provided an opportunity for the settlement to grow. Moses Bagg, a blacksmith, built a tavern to refresh travelers on the Genesee Road and the river. Bagg’s Tavern grew to a larger establishment, and the settlement around it was incorporated as Utica in 1798. Utica, Tunisia, an old Carthaginian city may have been an inspiration for the village’s new name, given a parallel with Rome, N.Y. nearby.
Utica also found itself a stop on the Erie Canal, when the first portion from Rome to Salina opened in 1820. The Chenango Canal, connecting Utica and Binghamton, opened in 1836, providing more water transportation for coal from northeastern Pennsylvania. At that time, Utica was the half-way point for travelers on the Erie Canal. Because the Mohawk did not run fast enough in the region to provide water power, it required a textile embargo from England to prompt the building of coal-fired steam-driven mills after the opening of the Chenango Canal, and Utica’s textile industry began in earnest. The steam-driven mills continued in operation until the 1950s.
When the local textile industry relocated to the American South, Utica turned to tool and die making in the 1950s centuries. However these began to downsize in the 1980s. One of the largest manufacturers remaining was General Electric’s radio-making facility, which employed about 8,000 workers in the city. When GE’s radio manufacturing moved to the Far East, GE’s Military Electronics division remained until sold to Lockheed Martin and then closed.
Recovering from de-industrialization has required some ingenuity, including attracting other industries. In 1996, the former GE-Lockheed facility was purchased by Oneida County’s Industrial Development Association for lease to Con-Med as a manufacturing facility, bringing new jobs to the area. Turning to arts and entertainment has also been one effort for regional economic revitalization. Utica has also been a place for many immigrants from war-torn nations since the turn of the 21st century, and they have played a crucial role in invigorating Utica’s economic, political and social life.
Amtrak provides both ticketing and baggage services at the Utica station, which is served by eight daily trains.
Federal law requires compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by 2010. The following is a list of items typically required for transportation and public facilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Please check the regulations for guidance or contact us for more information.
|Train information display system|
|Visual paging system|
|ADA compliant elevator|
|Accessible ticket counter|
|Accessible Customer Service office|
|ADA compliant signage|
|Flashing/audible safety alarm system|