Union Station: Washington DC
The historic Beaux-Arts Union Station in Washington DC has been completely renovated. Somehow it was disappointing. Maybe because of Covid-19 it was virtually empty, an unnatural state for a big transportation hub. Even the Christmas decorations that were still up, didn’t fill the void.
The huge tree was festooned with miniature American flags and oversized wreaths hung along the outside arches helped set off the beautiful views of the nearby Capitol. We made this visit just days before the assault on the Capitol before the city was barricaded, fencing now obscuring many views and access points. We took another ride around the District last week and it is unsettling to see razor wire and soldiers with guns.
Completed in 1908, the station’s heyday was in the 40s when it served 42,000 people daily. After World War II things didn’t go so well for the once elegant station. Cheaply done repairs, a changing transportation landscape with more cars on the road, a rainstorm causing part of the iconic glass ceiling to collapse, an earthquake, and poor design changes all contributed to its demise. In spite of its decline, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969, and eventually, the National Trust stepped in and led the way for restoration.
As a Federally-owned structure with private developers, it has been quite a process. Massive fund-raising efforts and years of dedication, followed by painstakingly detailed restoration work were combined with newly repurposed areas and digital features. The ceilings are beautiful. I look forward to post-Covid days when we can venture into the city and Union Station by metro train.