Utica, NY (UCA)
Marking its 100th anniversary in 2014, the Utica station remains a vital intermodal transportation center and bustling hub of community life.
321 Main Street
Boehlert Transportation Center
Utica, NY 13501
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 59,170
- Facility Ownership: County of Oneida
- Parking Lot Ownership: County of Oneida
- Platform Ownership: CSXT
- Track Ownership: CSXT
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
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 the riverside facility. 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 the same site to serve New York’s “Water Level Route.” The Utica & Schenectady Railroad built the first station in 1836, and it quickly became a way station 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 two shop buildings with open-air platforms between the waiting room and the restaurant. By 1900, this oft-flooded station was completely inadequate, and a new building project began. Between 1901 and 1907 a 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.
The new station’s designers, architects Allen H. Stem and Alfred Fellheimer of New York City, brought experience from their work on other notable stations such as New York City’s Grand Central Terminal and Detroit’s Michigan Central Station. In Utica, they created a $1 million, classically-inspired, Beaux Arts structure situated on the flats south of the Mohawk River.
Three stories high, this monumental building includes a rusticated granite first story with buff brick above. Symmetrically rectangular in plan, there are thirteen bays across the façade and fifteen on the side elevations. Each bay consists of a tall arched window on the first story, a square-headed window with bracketed sill on the second and a simple square-headed window on the third. Two story pilasters frame each bay on the upper levels, while a prominent cornice casts a deep shadow at the roof line. A brick parapet crowns the building; over the main entrance is a large clock flanked by eagle sculptures.
The interior is as impressive as the exterior. The main waiting room rises to a coffered, barrel-vaulted ceiling thirty-five feet at its peak. The vault is supported on each side by a row of concrete and steel columns faced with Botticino marble, and the floor is made of durable terrazzo. Grey Vermont and Knoxville marbles 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.
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 and the fledgling Landmarks Society of Greater Utica spearheaded the movement to restore the station, but were strenuously opposed, as the estimates for the work ran as high as $6.5 million. However, the turning point was learning that over 100 jobs would be lost in Utica if Amtrak had to move the switching control from the premises to another city. Finally, Oneida County purchased the station in 1978.
A phased restoration effort began in 1978 with federal, state and local funds. The first phase was contracted through the New York State Department of Transportation and included road access, landscaping, lighting, drainage and parking improvements totaling $2.2 million, $1.5 million of which came from the Federal Highway Administration. So successful was the initial restoration that in 1979, the station was designated as the official rail terminal of the 1980 Winter Olympics.
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 the tracks and renovation of office space on the second and third floors. Completed in 2002, the third phase focused on exterior renovations and public access and site security measures. The overhead enclosed walkway and towers were built during this phase. Funding totaled about $5.25 million, with $4.2 million from federal transportation grants.
Phase four included refurbishment of the canopies; lead and asbestos abatement were conducted, roofing and decking materials replaced, and structural steel repaired and reconditioned. Inside, the lobby and storefronts were restored and the terrazzo floor was repaired, cleaned and refinished. Ventilation, moisture, electrical and mechanical issues were also addressed. Phase four, completed in 2005, cost $2.1 million. In phase five, windows on the second and third floors were replaced with energy-efficient units.
Throughout three decades, redevelopment efforts have focused on maintaining and enhancing the station’s multimodal functions, as it also serves the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and intercity and local Centro buses. Additionally, the station houses Oneida County offices, retail establishments, event space and a weekly farmers’ market highlighting goods from central New York. Today, the station is known as the Boehlert Transportation Center in honor of Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, who helped secure the initial rehabilitation funding.
Utica Union Station is located within the historic downtown, less than a mile from Bagg’s Square, where Utica was founded. Before European-American settlers came to the region, 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. 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.
When the local textile industry relocated to the American South, Utica turned to tool and die making in the 1950s. 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. When GE’s radio manufacturing moved to Asia, GE’s Military Electronics division remained until sold to Lockheed Martin.
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 welcoming 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.
Empire Service trains are supported by funds made available by the New York State Department of Transportation.
- 200 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Ticket Office
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Accessible Water Fountain
- Baggage Storage
- Bike Boxes
- Checked Baggage
- Dedicated Parking
- Elevator Accessible
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Help With Luggage
- Pay Phones
- Quik Trak Kiosk
- Shipping Boxes
- Short Term Parking Spaces
- Ski Bags
- Ticket Office
- Wheelchair Lift