I have lived in Denver now for about five years and since I have been here, there are a few places I always come back to because I love the vibe and what it has to offer.
One of those places is Union Station in Downtown Denver.
Here is a little history!
When it was completed in 1881, Denver’s Union Station was the largest structure in the West and included a 128-foot tower! The cost to build was $525,000 which was a ton at that time!
A chandelier in the ladies’ room caused a devastating fire in 1894. The fire led to a redesign in 1914 that included a central area with wrought iron and glass. But in 1914, railroad companies replaced the center hall and roof and built the station that remains today. The city added an iron arch that welcomed travelers, but it was removed in the 1930 because it was considered a traffic hazard.
Union Station got its name from efforts to consolidate transportation. In the beginning of the century the city saw eighty to one hundred trains a day passing through. Not unlike today, Denver needed the infrastructure to handle the influx of arrivals. Before Union Station was built, several different railroad stations had operated in the area now home to LoDo (Lower Downtown) whose unpaved streets made transfers particularly unpleasant. Union Station’s opening was the culmination of efforts to “unionize all the trains coming to Denver.”
A bilingual “Welcome” sign once greeted travelers. As a tribute to Denver citizens, in 1906 the city erected what became known as the “Mizpah Arch” over the Seventeenth Street entrance to the station. When Mayor Robert Speer first dedicated the arch, it said “Welcome” on both sides, but later the sign said “Mizpah” as visitors entered the station, which is Hebrew for “watchtower”. The metal arch had 2,200 electric bulbs that gave visitors a warm welcome, not unlike the lights that now set the station aglow at night. The arch was torn down in 1933, but you can still find the two benches that mark where it once rose.
The “Travel by Train” sign references an era that had already passed. As the use of automobiles rose, Denver’s focus shifted away from rail. By the 1950s the trolleys that had traveled up Seventeenth and Wynkoop since the 1880s stopped running, and passenger air travel started taking off as well. In 1953 Union Station installed the sign “Travel by Train” almost as an homage. Even the beloved Ski Train went in and out of service over the decades that followed. In 1974, the station was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Today, you can travel by train as it has become a beloved way to tour the country, again. There is an Amtrak window inside where you can purchase tickets to travel to a favorite destination or explore a new one!
You can you eat, sleep, shop, drink, play, and be in the heart of downtown. You can take the Amtrak as well as the light rail that goes all over Metro Denver and to/from Denver International Airport.
Denver is a unique city with a lot to offer, as well as Colorado has endless events and nature galore! The mountains are a short drive from Denver and if you are craving hot springs, there are a lot of those spectacular natural wonders close by.
I, unfortunately, have not done as much exploring in the state as I should of by now. When I moved here, it was for a bit of a difficult time but I am currently making up for that lost time!
If Denver is on your to-do list, make sure you visit as soon as your are able!
If you have already been to Denver, please leave me a comment and tell me if you enjoyed Union Station as much as I do!