Updated: We have added Seattle’s newly restored King Street Station in the list.
America’s historic train stations are a treasure few of us pause long enough to admire as we rush through them on the way to our destinations. These buildings have witnessed history unfold, and almost all of them bear the marks of their home cities’ up and downs over the last century or more. Many of these stations are listed on local, state, and national historic registers, and in their own ways contribute to the growth of tourism in these cities and regions.
Amtrak has been highlighting the value of these stations since 2006 through its website GreatAmericanStations.com, focusing on preservation and rebuilding of the country’s Amtrak stations, and its value to the local communities. It recently relaunched the site (PDF link), with more tools for citizens to help build movements to preserve their local historic stations, and also highlighting various benefits, including developing tourism. As the site says:
While a train station’s primary purpose is to provide a point from which to depart or arrive, communities that fail to see their station’s full potential are missing a tremendous opportunity. Transforming a station into a place worth visiting, with shops, restaurants, museums and the like, enables towns to take advantage of the variety of people passing through every day by giving them something more – a reason to return. Additionally, if a station is more than a travel hub, locals will see the station as a place to relax and be entertained as well.
Inspired by this, we built a list of what we believe are the 23 grandest Amtrak stations in America, both for the visual appeal and for what they say about the city that stations them. Of course, as with any list, many almost-deserving stations are left out, and a lot of those can be seen on the GAS site.
Here’s our list of top 23, not in any particular order, in the photo gallery above. Also listed below are links to the Amtrak station pages on GreatAmericanStations.com in case you want to dig into more of their history, architecture, design and restoration efforts.
- Los Angeles Union Station
- Cincinnati Union Terminal
- Union Station, Washington, D.C
- Union Station, Kansas City
- Union Station, Chicago
- Union Station, Utica NY
- 30th Street Station, Philadelphia
- Santa Fe Depot, San Diego
- Union Station, Denver
- New Haven Union Station
- Union Station, Worcester MA
- Union Station, Portland OR
- Amtrak Station, Greensboro NC
- Main Street Station, Richmond VA
- Baltimore Penn Station
- Amtrak Train Station, Barstow, CA
- San Juan Capistrano Depot, CA
- Santa Fe Depot, San Bernardino
- Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center, TX
- Hamlet Passenger Depot, Hamlet NC
- Alvarado Transportation Center, Albuquerque, NM
- Texas and Pacific Railroad Depot, Marshall, TX
- King Street Station, Seattle