KANSAS CITY—Kansas City Union Station officially turns 100 years old on October 30, 2014. To celebrate the occasion, there will be four days of special activities that conclude on November 2. The festivities kick off with a Centennial Gala, a fundraising event to support the station’s continued maintenance and preservation.
On October 31, visitors are invited to have a first look at a new 5,000 square foot permanent exhibition of artifacts and stories related to the station and the city’s railroads. Over the weekend, free events include history lectures, a variety of live music and theatrical performances, kids’ activities such as face painting and tours of the Amtrak Exhibit Train.
Check out the full schedule of events on the Kansas City Union Station Centennial Celebration website.
When Kansas City Union Station opened on October 30, 1914, it was the third-largest train station in the country. The building’s grand scale and Beaux Arts architecture reflected the city’s status as major Midwestern metropolis and a significant passenger and freight rail hub.
Designed by Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt, the station’s Grand Hall was intended for ticketing, while the North Waiting Hall, extending perpendicularly over the railway tracks, served as a passenger waiting area. Union Station’s rich history and structural and design integrity were recognized through listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Between 1945 and 1973, passenger traffic at the station plunged from a high of approximately 678,000 travelers to only 39,000, and portions of the facility were largely unused. The community subsequently rallied to support rehabilitation and reuse of the station. In 1996, residents in five adjacent counties in both Missouri and Kansas approved a 1/8 cent sales tax, part of which funded half of a $250-million restoration project.
With the completion of renovations in November 1999, the station was reborn as a museum, retail and entertainment center. Largely self-supporting due to its various partnerships, Union Station is today a model for similar projects across the country.
Images by Roy Inman, courtesy of Union Station Kansas City, Inc.