According to Wikipedia, twelve different railroad lines overall operated from and through Kansas City overall. However, the golden age of railroads in the city in Missouri are long ago – Amtrak is solely driving the Missouri River Runner to St. Louis and Southwest Chief between Los Angeles and Chicago nowadays. The last architectural witness of the golden era is the impressive Union Station. In this Pictured Story, I take yo on a walk through the building.
Kansas City Union Station – Location & Transport
Kansas City Union Station is located quite in the heart of Kansas City. Several key attractions like the National World War I Museum or the Arabia Steamboat Museum can be reached rather easily. A key factor for that is the Kansas City Street Car, which is currently having a terminus right at Union Station – the connection is planned to be prolonged in the future. This ironically means that (apart from freight trains) the only really frequent and periodic train system operating from there is that free to use light rail.
If you come to Kansas City by car and want to explore the train station, there are various parking options around. Apart from several street level entrances, there is also a walkway across major roads towards a shopping mall across the road. Of course, as this is an operating train station, there is no admission or similar. Some attractions inside require admission charge, though (see below).
Kansas City Union Station – Main Building
The key reason why Kansas City Union Station nowadays looks that amazing is that it underwent significant renovation in the late 1990’s. Before that, the 1914-opened building had decayed over a longer period. Amtrak did operate in there, but had some sort of tent construction inside the building to ensure the safety of passengers. The overall area of the huge building is 20.2 acres / 82,000 square meters. As you see, the main building comes with huge halls and a beautiful interior design. A walkway on the rear of the building leads to the tracks, which is also a nice place for trainspotting.
With the renovation, Amtrak moved back inside the building. However, the in-fact operating part of the station is rather minor compared to the size of the building at all. The waiting area feels rather basic, which is, however, somehow reasonable for tor the maximum of four trains departing from Union Station per day. There is quite a couple of cafes and stores in the building (see below). Furthermore, it hosts two major attractions, the Museum of Illusions and Science City (both, of course, require admission). There is also space for other purposes. For example, at the time of publishing, Kansas City Union Stations hosts the Superman exhibition Beyond Amazing.
Kansas City Union Station – Model Train
A very special exhibition inside the station building is the Model Train Gallery. Times at the time of writing are 9:00 to 17:00 Monday to Saturday and 10:00 to 17:00 on Sundays. In general, the exhibition is free, but they request a donation (credit card reader at the entrance). Not only if you like scale modeling in general or model trains, you definitely should take some time and watch it. The different landscapes (in different scales) are really beautifully done. Some are even made with interlockable building bricks (Lego and peers…).
Kansas City Union Station – Exhibitions
I entered Union Station from the East side of the building. This wing in particular hosts a lot of historic showcases about the history of Kansas City Union Station. You also see how rotten the building has been before renovation. There are additional showcases in other parts of the building as well.
Kansas City Union Station – Service
As said, apart from the two main attractions, there are numerous shops, cafes and basic restaurants. Thus, it is a nice place to relax and hang out.
I rarely took that many pictures of a loo – but the bathrooms impressingly illustrate how important Kansas City Union Station has been for the US-American rail traffic. Nowadays, obviously, the sanitary services feel a bit over-sized.
Kansas City Postings
Here are all postings related to Kansas City: