Communities around the country have discovered that rail stations are vital assets. In communities from coast-to-coast, stations spur economic development and tourism, serve as catalysts for historic preservation, offer commercial and cultural space, and are points of civic pride that set a town apart and contribute to its individual identity.
Since the launch of the Great American Stations Project in 2006, Amtrak has worked with several Amtrak-served communities interested in implementing station improvements ranging in all shapes and sizes. As they shared their stories, lessons learned and best practices, we recognized the value to other communities in collecting these observations in a set of short case studies.
Each case study offers a quick “snapshot” of a station improvement project including: project overview, community benefits, keys to success, funding sources, and insight from project, municipal and civic leaders.
As projects across the country take form, we’ll continue to add case studies as they become available. If you are the leader of an Amtrak-served community and are interested in sharing information about your station project, we would love to hear from you.
Architectural & Aesthetic Improvements
Aesthetic Improvements: Cut Bank, MT
A community-led project to spruce up the building, which resembles a charming Swiss Chalet, proved the foundation for a wider city beautification effort.
Architectural & Aesthetic Improvements: Elizabethtown, PA
The town took great care to maintain the existing historic elements of its train depot, originally constructed in 1915 in a Collegiate Gothic style to match the campus of an adjacent Masonic retirement community.
Civic Pride: Claremont, NH
City government, with the assistance of residents, has taken a proactive approach to improving the local station in order to position it as a regional gateway.
Civic Pride: Kirkwood, MO
When the historic depot was threatened with abandonment, locals banded together to preserve a piece of their history and demonstrate pride in their community.
Cultural Space & Museums
Cultural Space & Museums: Norman, OK
The Norman depot is home to a non-profit organization that uses the bulk of the building as gallery space to showcase the work of regional artists. The depot is also home to poetry readings, musical concerts and educational workshops.
Cultural Space & Museums: Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati transformed its grand train station into a destination unto itself, housing multiple museums, a library, a theater, and various shops and restaurants, not to mention an Amtrak ticket office and waiting room.
Economic Development: Brunswick, ME
An investment in the train station has done more for the town of Brunswick than simply reinvigorate passenger rail travel to and from the community.
Economic Development: Hattiesburg, MS
Upon the decline of Hattiesburg’s central business district in the 1970s, the rail depot served as the nucleus of the city’s major downtown redevelopment.
Historic Preservation: Kingman, AZ
Recognizing the historic importance of the 1907 depot and its status as a popular Route 66 landmark, the city undertook a full rehabilitation.
Historic Preservation and Sustainable Design: St. Paul, MN
Located in a neighborhood in the midst of a classic urban renaissance, Union Depot is emblematic of initiatives to integrate transportation, land use and environmental planning for robust development.
Tourism Growth: Southern Pines, NC
Within walking distance of downtown shops, restaurants and galleries, the depot includes an Amtrak waiting area, the Southern Pines Welcome Center, a Community Room and a recreated stationmaster’s office.
Tourism Growth: Hermann, MO
Four daily Missouri River Runner frequencies and recent improvements to the passenger depot support Hermann’s tourism promotion efforts.
Tourism Growth: Culpeper, VA
A busy Amtrak station, the depot also houses the Visitors Center, hosts cultural events and is the future site of the Museum of Culpeper History.
Commercial Use: Mystic, CT
After standing vacant, the depot was renovated by local businessman David Crompton to house a community café and gift shop that also provides a waiting area and restrooms for Amtrak customers.
Commercial Use: Erie, PA
Entrepreneur Jim Berlin purchased Union Station in 2003 to house his international freight management company, Logistics Plus Inc. Today the renovated building anchors the southern end of Midtown and hosts a dozen commercial tenants.
Commercial Use: West Glacier, MT
The non-profit Glacier National Park Conservancy converted the historic depot into a retail shop in the early 1990s; revenues support preservation, education and research in the park.