Images of America St Louis Union Station by Montesi & Deposki Soft Cover 2002
Images of America St Louis Union Station by Montesi & Deposki Soft Cover 2002
Images of America St Louis Union Station by Montesi & Deposki Soft Cover 2002
Images of America St Louis Union Station by Montesi & Deposki Soft Cover 2002
Images of America St Louis Union Station by Montesi & Deposki Soft Cover 2002
Images of America St Louis Union Station by Montesi & Deposki Soft Cover 2002

Images of America St Louis Union Station by Montesi & Deposki Soft Cover 2002

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Images of America St Louis Union Station by Montesi & Deposki Soft Cover 2002
 
Images of America St Louis Union Station by Albert Montesi and Richard Deposki Soft Cover Copyright 2002 128 pages
St. Louis' industrial growth and its coming of age as an urban commercial power in the nineteenth century was nothing short of phenomenal. From its very beginning, it was sought out as a trading center for its economic potential. Its position near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers provided an ideal locale for transportation and shipping. It is not surprising, then, that as the Midwest grew in population and region, the city grew with it. Early in the century, as steam and water power became new sources of marine energy, St. Louis prospered as steamboats crowded its wharfs. As the century grew older, however, new technology provided the times with a new player, the railroads, which, unlike the steamboat, could fan out into the new opening West.
Before and particularly after the Civil War, railcars and their tracks began to appear throughout the United States in great numbers. As the steamboat era declined, St. Louis (in rivalry with Chicago) realized that it must build some method of crossing the Mississippi to accommodate the tracks that were needed.
This was solved by the engineering genius of James B. Eads who performed a feat seemingly impossible for the day. He spanned the Mississippi River with a crossing buttressed by pylons dug deep in the wide river. In 1874, he presented the city with the famous Eads Bridge, an engineering and aesthetic triumph that stunned the nation and provided the city with the necessary means to competitively enter the grand "Age of the Railroad."
Though successful in the beginning, the Eads Bridge Company became enmeshed in a political rivalry with the barge owners who, before the bridge was built, had carted all trains across the river. In time, the company encountered financial difficulties and soon fell into the hands Of the masterful entrepreneur, Jay Gould, who controlled most of the country's new railroads. Gould charged exorbitant prices for trains other than his own to use the bridge's tracks.
Jay Gould later lost control of his great Middle West train empire and turned over all of his holdings to his son and heir, as well as to William Taussig, a close associate. These two men then formed a joint-holding company, which in time included various railroad companies and their routes and carriers. Thus was horn the very important venture that was known as the Terminal Railroad Association.
In the meanwhile, the first major train station in the city, erected in downtown St. Louis, became inadequate as train traffic grew enormously. Taussig, the sagacious head of the Terminal group, together with his associates, began to plan for a larger and more attractive venue. In keeping with the architectural trend of the day, railroad stations were built in urban centers with grandiose designs and construction. Taussig wished to rival those in New York, Boston, and Washington with the most elaborate and graceful structure of them all.
Prominent local architect Theodore Link won the design contest and patterned the station after a walled city in Carcassonne, France. Reining in the best talent in sculpture, stained-glass window design, and interior decoration, Link created a masterful railroad station whose technical ingenuity and operational engineering matched in some fortunate coordination the aesthetic beauty and graceful contours of its whole.
This Richardsonian Romanesque structure, called Union Station, soon became a beehive of activity as it evolved into a railroad center to which most of the nation traveled. It grew in time to be one of the busiest stations in the world.
Yet as the twentieth century saw technological inventions and advances in transportation, Union Station became threatened by the new times. As the motorcar and airplane opened up new modes of transportation, the railroads suffered. They suffered to such a degree that Union Station became more and more idle. The vast hordes that once walked its floors became almost nonexistent. In time, the station closed. Now forsaken, it fell prey to vandals and thieves, its lovely features gutted and destroyed. Soon it sat empty, an ugly shell, disabled and forlorn for decades.
In 1985, its status fortunately changed as a $150 million restoration took place. Artists and artisans made painstaking efforts to restore it to its original brilliant shape. It has since become a vast entertainment center with shops, restaurants, amusements, and a grand hotel: a site that attracts as many as 5 million visitors a year.
In the following pages, we have attempted to capture, with photos and commentary, the rise, decline, and final restoration of this grand structure.

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