Stamford, CT (STM)
The station spans the busy Northeast Corridor tracks; a series of dramatic cross braces form large two-story “X” figures over the glass walls of the waiting room.
Washington Blvd. and South State Street
Stamford, CT 06902
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 401,548
- Facility Ownership: State of Connecticut
- Parking Lot Ownership: State of Connecticut
- Platform Ownership: State of Connecticut
- Track Ownership: State of Connecticut
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The current station, opened in 1987, is the fourth to serve the residents of Stamford, and is one of the busiest commuter stops between New York’s Grand Central Terminal and New Haven’s Union Station. Its form is based on a concept from the renowned architectural and planning firm of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, which was hired by Amtrak in the 1970s and 1980s to oversee various aspects of the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project. The actual design work was carried out by architects Wilbur Smith & Associates in partnership with Lev Zetlin Associates. Upon closer examination, the $40 million structure shares many of the characteristics of its contemporary in nearby Bridgeport.
Built of concrete and partially faced with aluminum panels, the station spans the busy Northeast Corridor tracks. To get to the waiting room, which is directly over the tracks, passengers at street level must enter access towers located to the north and south of the right-of-way, then ascend stairs or use an elevator to reach the upper level. The building’s boxy, hard appearance is broken by a series of dramatic cross braces that form large two-story “X” figures over the glass walls of the waiting room. A bold red stripe wraps around the access towers, bringing a punch of color to an otherwise gray color palette; it also carries through to the interior passenger areas. Along the platforms, wide and long canopies protect passengers from inclement weather while they wait for the arrival of the train. A bridge provides a direct connection between the station and a parking garage to the south. In the early 2000s, center island platforms and another pedestrian bridge were added to ease passenger flow and facilitate transfers.
Stamford was founded out of dissention. In 1640, the original settlers decided to leave Wethersfield, a town south of the Connecticut Colony’s capital at Hartford, due to a disagreement among members of the Church of Christ that has since been forgotten. In October of that year, the dissenters banded together and decided to search for a suitable town site bordering Long Island Sound, eventually choosing a location along the lower Rippowam River. Only one year before, nearly 128 acres there had been purchased from the local Siwanoy American Indians by Captain Nathaniel Turner of the nearby New Haven Colony, in exchange for a collection of coats, hoes, hatchets, knives, kettles, and wampum. By the summer of 1641, Turner had sold the property to his 28 fellow Puritans from Wethersfield, and the newly arrived settlers began to construct a meeting house and dwellings where the Stamford Town Center is today. Within the year, the village—considered part of the New Haven Colony—was referred to as Stamford after a city in Lincolnshire, England from which many of the colonists had come.
The settlement grew into a prosperous agricultural community in which potatoes and grains were the primary products, while fish and oysters were obtained on the waterways. Along the lower Rippowam, mills were constructed to process locally grown grains and to produce finished boards for construction; subsequently, within the town limits, the waterway became known as Mill River. Located along the Boston Post Road running between its namesake city and New York, Stamford boasted a handful of taverns for weary travelers. Webb’s Tavern was known for its fine food and hospitality, and in October 1789, President George Washington stopped there to accept the good wishes of residents.
Although part of Connecticut, Stamford was gradually drawn into New York’s sphere of influence. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 transformed that city into the principal port and trading hub for the developing Midwestern breadbasket. To encourage local growth, Stamford business leaders initiated a program that in 1833 saw the east branch of the harbor extended northward into the heart of town. The banks were soon populated with warehouses and workshops, and ships from other coastal communities and as far as the West Indies traded in goods such as hides, lumber, molasses, and sugar. At the head of the waterway, near the old church, Atlantic Square matured as the crossroads and commercial center of Stamford.
New England, with its fast flowing rivers, was the first region of the country to industrialize and by the early 19th century, merchants were looking for faster and more efficient means to move their goods. One solution was railroads, which took off in the 1830s. Geography proved a challenge to early rail promoters wishing to lay a line along Connecticut’s undulating coastline. While it contained many of the state’s oldest cities, it was also marked by numerous streams and rivers that would have to be bridged.
In 1844, the backers of the New York and New Haven Railroad (NY&NH) received a charter to construct a line between the two named endpoints. By 1848 they had reached Stamford and within a year the railroad was in full operation. At the western end, direct access into Manhattan was provided over the New York and Harlem Railroad. To the east, the New Haven and New London Railroad was chartered in 1848 to build a line between those cities, opening in the summer of 1852. That same year, another line was organized to link New London with Stonington, Conn., the terminus of the Boston-bound New York, Providence, and Boston Railroad.
The NY&NH further tied Stamford to New York City, and Shippan Point, a peninsula jutting south into Long Island Sound, soon became sought-after real estate for New York businessmen looking to erect elaborate summer retreats that were sited to take advantage of cool sea breezes. For those who could afford to commute back and forth to New York, Stamford became an ideal residential community. The old canal north of the tracks was eventually filled in and became Canal Street while the southern portion was widened and deepened in the 1860s to allow for larger ships.
Stamford’s first wood frame depot stood east of Atlantic Street and close to the busy canal, but there is scant information about its appearance and form. In 1868, it was replaced by a sturdier two-story brick version gussied up in eclectic Victorian garb. Located further west, it sported a French Second Empire slate-sheathed mansard roof with dormer windows; a centrally placed Italianate cupola; and an extensive canopy supported by oversized wood brackets with decorative spindles and carvings reminiscent of the Eastlake style. The deep canopy sheltered passengers from winter snows, rains, and the summer sun.
In 1872, the NY&NH merged with the rival Hartford and New Haven Railroad to form the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad, commonly referred to as the “New Haven.” It quickly became the dominant freight and passenger railroad in southern New England, absorbing smaller lines in order to control the route linking Boston and New York City. In the early 20th century, the main line between New York and New Haven was electrified, and the resulting ease of commuting along the corridor is credited with helping Stamford’s population double between 1905 and 1925. By the 1920s, the New Haven had more than 2,000 miles in its portfolio and it was estimated that it carried 10 percent of American passenger rail traffic.
In the 1890s, the New Haven undertook an extensive program to elevate its tracks through city centers in southern Connecticut. Increased traffic on city roads and the rails had created terrible congestion and dangerous interactions between the two travel modes. Local officials lobbied the railroad to raise the right-of-way to allow for unobstructed movement at street level. As part of a $550,000 program in Stamford, additional tracks were added to better accommodate local and through service, therefore necessitating the demolition of the Victorian era depot. In its place, the New Haven erected two almost identical stations on either side of the tracks for east and west bound service. Most facilities of this nature included one larger, principal station with a smaller structure on the less used track. Due to Stamford’s role as an important intercity and commuter rail stop, the railroad believed it important to construct two equally outfitted depots to manage expected passenger flows.
In an attempt to standardize station layouts and cut down on design costs, the two story Stamford depots mirror others found along the New Haven route. Each was constructed of yellow buff brick, with stylized quoins at the corners of the buildings and at the corners of the central projecting trackside bays. Red sandstone was used for the base and water table and was employed as accent trim for details such as the window sills. Beltcourses encircled the depots at the level of the window arches on the first floor as well as at the sills of the lunette windows on the upper level. Hipped roofs sported cross gables above the projecting bays, and the gables also held large lunettes. On the interior, the projecting bay opened up onto the ticket office, allowing the station master an unobstructed view of traffic down the line. Passengers used a below ground passage—a “subway”—to walk from one station to the other.
Inside, ample sunlight entered through the tall windows, bouncing off the glazed white brick on the upper portion of the walls as well as the shiny terrazzo floors. Red oak was used to create the wainscoting along the lower part of the walls and the trim around doors and windows. Tickets were sold from behind tall wood paneled booths that reached almost to the ceiling; on their top edges, they were trimmed in dentil molding. All of the materials used to outfit the passenger areas were durable and designed to withstand the constant shuffling of feet and the absent-minded caresses of thousands of hands. Adjacent to the waiting room was space for baggage storage as well as bunkrooms for the train crews. The second level contained offices and storage spaces.
Towards the mid-20th century, changes were made to the interior configuration of the depots to allow for the installation of convenience services such as a lunch counter and newsstand, while on the exterior, the second story lunette windows were covered with plywood. Both depots stood until the 1980s when they were demolished to make way for the current Stamford station.
In the late 19th century, Stamford, like many other Connecticut towns, grew as an industrial center in part due to its impressive transportation links and its ability to attract immigrants. Thousands of foreigners bound for New York City instead gave Stamford a try, swelling its workforce and making it one of the fastest growing cities in the state. Stamford’s most famous industry came to the city in 1868 when Linus Yale, Jr. and his business partner Henry T. Towne chose to relocate their lock manufacturing factory to the South End neighborhood directly below the railroad tracks. With its great rail and water access, the area grew as the city’s primary industrial zone, and also included worker housing within walking distance of the great industrial concerns.
Yale, whose name become synonymous with quality locks, developed and patented a compact five-pin tumbler model that was lightweight, had numerous combination variations, and was almost pick-proof. Unfortunately, Yale died within the year, but Towne marched on and opened the factory, which also produced blocks and pulleys and other hardware. Towne was early recognized in the manufacturing world for instituting a modern factory system that included mechanization to streamline and standardize processes that had formerly been done by hand. Within 30 years, the Yale and Towne Company sprawled over more than 21 acres and employed 1,000 laborers, a number that would increase to 5,000 by 1916—or 1 in 16 Stamford residents. Yale and Towne’s influence was so great that the city gained the title of “Lock City,” and the municipal seal still includes a couple of the company’s keys in its lower corner.
One of the city’s other great manufacturers was the Lincrusta-Walton Company, which made a durable and highly decorative wall covering. Invented in Great Britain, Lincrusta was made from a paste of gelled linseed oil and wood flour. Molded into various designs, it was often faux-painted to resemble marble and exotic woods. Especially popular in the Victorian era when high-relief, polychrome decoration was in vogue, Lincrusta can still be found in many historic homes. Opened in 1883, the Stamford factory was the first American producer of Lincrusta.
By the mid-20th century, Stamford waned as an industrial center as manufacturing businesses moved to other parts of the country. The venerable Yale and Towne Company factoryclosed its doors in 1959, marking a symbolic end to the city’s manufacturing prowess. In the face of an uncertain economic future, city and business leaders worked to reorient the economy towards service industries such as finance. In the suburbanization that followed World War II, Stamford benefited as companies formerly based in New York City sought new campuses. Today the city is home to numerous corporate headquarters including many listed on the Fortune 500 list. Their skyscrapers have transformed the city skyline and redefined the central core.
Amtrak provides ticketing services at this station but does not provide baggage services. Stamford is served by 41 daily trains.
- 100 Short Term Parking Spaces
- 100 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Ticket Office
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Accessible Water Fountain
- Elevator Accessible
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- High Platform
- Parking Attendant
- Pay Phones
- Quik Trak Kiosk
- Ticket Office