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Washington - Union Station, DC (WAS)

A soaring Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by famed architect and planner Daniel Burnham, Union Station was a key element in a City Beautiful plan to remake the nation's capital.


Station Facts

Washington - Union Station, DC Station Photo

Washington - Union Station, District of Columbia

50 Massachusetts Avenue NE Union Station Washington, DC 20002

Station Hours

Annual Station Revenue (2013)
$522,622,326
Annual Station Ridership (2013)
5,033,392

Ownerships

Facility Ownership U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington Terminal Corporation
Parking Lot Ownership U.S. Department of Transportation
Platform Ownership Washington Terminal Corporation
Track Ownership Washington Terminal Corporation

Features

500 Long Term Parking Spaces 500 Short Term Parking Spaces 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 High Platform
Lounge Parking Attendant Quik Trak Kiosk
Restrooms Shipping Boxes Ski Bags
Ticket Office Wheelchair Wheelchair Lift
WiFi

Routes Served

  • Acela Express
  • Capitol Limited
  • Cardinal
  • Carolinian
  • Crescent
  • Northeast Regional
  • Palmetto
  • Silver Meteor
  • Silver Star
  • Vermonter

Contact

Bill Hollister
Regional Contact
governmentaffairsnyc@amtrak.com
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).

Local Community Links:

Station History

In 1901, the U. S. Senate Park Commission invited master American architect and planner Daniel Burnham to orchestrate a sweeping City Beautiful plan for Washington, D.C and make it in a setting that was both practical and grandly befitting a world capital. Burnham’s work would help create the colossal architecture now associated with the National Mall. As part of this work, Burnham designed a Union Station that removed the rail lines from the center of the Mall, which had become a tangle of paths, gardens and buildings, and brought two major railroads, the Pennsylvania and the Baltimore and Ohio, into one terminal.

Completed in 1908, this Beaux Arts national historical landmark inspires with its neoclassical architecture even though its bones are modern concrete and steel. The front of the station, on Columbus Circle, presents travelers with a soaring vaulted entryway and heroic statuary on its 600-foot length. The 96-foot high coffered Main Hall ceiling shines with gold leaf, reflecting light onto the expanse of its marble floor through spacious skylights and windows. The former Main Concourse, now the heart of the station, lifts its barrel-vaulted glass and coffered plaster ceiling 45 feet above the main floor and stretches 760 feet long. It was once said to be the largest single room in the world. When the building first opened, it also featured a private, secure waiting room for the president and his visitors, as well as a public dining room whose walls were covered in murals modeled after those recently excavated at the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Approximately 70,000 visitors pass through Union Station each day, including passengers using Amtrak, Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) rail and Virginia Railway Express (VRE), Metro subway trains and buses, taxis, tourist buses, intercity buses and Capital Bikeshare. The building is also a popular shopping and dining destination for residents of the Capital Hill neighborhood, and the city at large. Behind the station, above the train sheds, stands a parking structure offering over 2,000 spaces. The station, bringing all these modes of transportation together, makes it easy for people to move from private automobile to Amtrak to taxi or from commuter rail onto the subway and still have time to buy a meal, a gift, or a cup of coffee on their way.

The station has evolved through a vivid history of bustling use during its early years, to a period of decline, to a three year, $160 million restoration completed in 1988 that is still cited as one of the nation’s most successful examples of adaptive reuse through a private and public partnership. Key improvements undertaken during the 1980s rehabilitation project included: introduction of a mezzanine level within the Concourse that provided expanded retail opportunities; the addition of dedicated areas for Amtrak seating and signage; restoration of the floors in the West, East, and Main Halls; restoration of exterior walls, doors, and windows; upgrades to the exterior lighting; and the addition of a public elevator to connect all three levels of the station.

Today the station, which is larger than the U.S. Capitol, is the number one destination for visitors to Washington, D.C. It houses an indoor mall in the former Main Concourse, with many shops and kiosks throughout the station, providing ample space to meet, greet, and shop. There is more than 210,000 square feet of retail space, including six full service restaurants and many other smaller eateries providing quick meals. Amtrak corporate offices are located in the station as well. Since its re-opening, Union Station has hosted a large variety of cultural and civic events, presidential inaugural balls, free concerts, art and photography exhibits, and many other activities.

The District of Columbia was established in 1791 as a Congressionally-designated federal territory, a location for the nation’s capital that would take up a diamond-shaped ten mile-by-ten mile tract at a major fork of the Potomac River. This permanent location was intended as home for a capital city which did not originally fill the entire area, as well as the President’s home and that of each branch of government. Designed by Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a Frenchman who had come to know George Washington during the Revolutionary War, the city was one of the first pre-planned cities in the new nation. Even with 200 years of growth, L’Enfant’s symbolic and innovative plan for the capital of a new nation has survived remarkably unchanged.

Amtrak provides ticketing and baggage services at this station, which is served by approximately 85 daily trains, as well as the tri-weekly Cardinal (Westbound: Sunday, Wednesday, Friday; Eastbound: Wednesday, Friday, Sunday).