Union Station

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Union Station, a set on Flickr.
1903, Daniel H. Burnham, Director of Works, principal architect of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, was chosen to design Union Station. He modeled the Station in the monumental Beaux-Arts style and after the Baths of Caraculla and Diocletian and the triumphal Arch of Rome. Union Station's arches symbolize its primary function as a gateway.

The white granite and classic lines of Union Station set the mode for Washington's classic monumental architecture for the next 40 years through the construction of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Federal Triangle, the Supreme Court Building and the National Gallery of Art.

The original construction of the Station cost more than $25 million; the cost to construct the Station building alone was $4 million. During the construction, Italian laborers were hired and were lodged in camp cars.

Ionic columns, chiseled inscriptions, and the allegorical sculpture mark Union Station’s neoclassical facade. Niches in the facade of the main entrance hold carved figures representing fire, electricity, agriculture and mechanics, each weighing 25 tons.

On October 27, 1907, Union Station officially opened at 6:50 a.m., when the Baltimore and Ohio Pittsburgh Express pulled into the Station. The Station was ultimately completed in 1908.

In 1909, President Taft was the first president to use the Presidential Suite. Over the years, many famous dignitaries were officially greeted in these rooms, including King George VI, Queen Elizabeth of England, King Albert of the Belgians, King Prajadipok of Siam, Queen Marie of Rumania, and King Hassan II of Morocco.

On January 23, 1911, J.P. Morgan broke the fast train speed record for the trip between Union Station and New York City by making the 226.8-mile trip in a special train in three hours, 55 minutes and thirty seconds. Mr. Morgan's train beat the record by one hour and four minutes and thirty seconds.

During World War I, troops were mobilized through Union Station, and many prominent women worked in the Station's canteen, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson. It was reported that Mrs. Wilson had kept her husband, the President, waiting for her outside the Station, until she had finished her duties at the canteen.

On January 15, 1953, the Federal Express train, out of control on Track 16, crashed through a newsstand and into the main concourse of Union Station. Miraculously, no one was killed. Thanks to a tower crewmember located about a mile from Union Station who had been able to warn the stationmaster's office that a runaway train was on its way, the concourse was cleared in two and a half minutes. Although the floor collapsed under the locomotive, 96 hours later, at 8:00 a.m., an Eisenhower inaugural special train rolled to a stop on Track 16 into a concourse that showed little evidence of the accident.

Congress enacted the Union Station Redevelopment Act of 1981 to preserve Union Station as a national treasure. The Department of Transportation (DOT) was charged with developing a plan that would enable the Station to financially support its continued operation. Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole created the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation to oversee the restoration.



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Bonnie Morét is an award-winning photographer recognized by The Georgia Council of the Arts as "an exceptional representation of contemporary Georgia art work." Her photography is featured on Georgia Public Broadcast's Georgia Traveler. Her exhibitions include Fifth Annual Exposure Awards at Musee du Louvre in Paris, France, Art Takes Miami at Scope Art during Art Basel Miami, Metro Montage XIII at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, World of Water at the Georgia Aquarium, Open Walls at Black Box Gallery in Portland, Oregon, Wholly Georgia: A Look at the Effects of Southern Religious Culture, sponsored by the Art History League and Georgia State University, at Mint Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, 6x6 at the Rochester Contemporary Arts Center in Rochester, New York, @Phonography: Dialogue in the Wireless Age, at 3 Ring Circus in New Orleans, Louisiana, and About Lands and Lives of the Civil War at the 6th Cavalry Museum in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia. Her photography appears in Modern Luxury/The Atlantan, Jezebel Magazine, and hangs in the executive offices at the Georgia State Capitol as part of the Art of Georgia exhibit. Corporate clients include Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta History Center, Chanel Cosmetics, Christian Dior Cosmetics, Sharp Mountain Vineyards, PM Realty Group, Granite Properties, Road Atlanta, Patrón Tequila, StubHub, CBM Records and The Washington Auto Show.