Facts: Current, historical and fun
Denver Union Station is rich in history and a big part of the Mile High City's colorful past. With the redevelopment that's taking place, it is certain to play a key role in the city's future as well. Here are a few tidbits of cool information about the historic place.
Denver Union Station and the commuter train hall July 29, 2013
- The city's first Union Station cost $525,000 for the Union Depot and Railroad Company to build on June 1, 1881. We are now investing $500 million for Denver Union Station. It was the largest building in Denver at the time.
- The original Denver Union Station, built in 1881, burned on March 18, 1894, when a fire ignited the electrical system in the ladies' restroom.
- The current Beaux Arts Classicism and Italian Romanesque structure of Denver Union Station was built in 1914.
- On July 4, 1906, Mayor Robert Speer dedicated the Welcome Arch in front of Union Station. The arch was a 65-foot-high, 85-foot-wide gateway structure with 2,194 light bulbs, and served as Denver's "front door."
- In 1908, the Wynkoop Street side of Union Station was changed to "Mizpah," a Hebrew parting salutation from Genesis 31:49. Rumor has it that some unenlightened Denverites thought "Mizpah" was a Native American word that meant "Howdy, Partner."
- The Mizpah Arch was taken down in 1931 after being deemed a traffic hazard.
- Presidents Eisenhower, Taft and Theodore Roosevelt were among the famous who came by train into Union Station.
- The original chandeliers were eight feet across.
- The plaster arches that line the walls of the center room have 2,300 carved Columbine flowers in them.
- In 1902, Denver Union Station depot police began enforcing a "no kissing" rule on platforms because it slowed down the trains.
- World War II passenger traffic swelled almost to gridlock with 24,000 people a day.
- With 80 trains daily, the station was always in motion serving more than a million passengers a year during the early 1900s. It is now projected to serve 200,000 passenger per day (in and out of Denver Union Station) in 2030 with 500 trains per day. That's roughly 50 million passengers a year!!
- Since the early 20th century, the holidays have been celebrated at Denver Union Station with lights, decorations, concerts and even firework shows (before loft construction took place).
- Not until 1958 did passenger traffic at Stapleton Airport exceed that at Denver Union Station. This is when DUS placed on both sides of the building "Travel by Train" signs to advertise commercial intercity trains.
- In the late 1980s, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and the City of Denver worked with the Denver Union Terminal Railway Corporation (DUT), the private owner of the station, to upgrade rail platforms, canopies and install a bus lane.
- In 2001, RTD purchased the site in accordance with a jointly funded Intergovernmental Agreement between RTD, the City and County of Denver, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG).
- Denver Union Station was designated as a City of Denver landmark on October 4, 2004.
- In September 2009, the Denver Union Station Project Authority was formed. Denver City Council created DUSPA which is responsible for the financing, acquiring, owning,
equipping, designing, constructing, renovating, operating and
maintaining the Denver Union Station redevelopment project.
- The Denver Union Station Master Plan serves as the blueprint for redeveloping and preserving Denver's historic Union Station and the 19.85 acres of surrounding land.
- Eleven big-name developers, including Donald Trump, were vying to be the "master developer" for the $800 million redevelopment of Denver Union Station. USNC (Union Station Neighborhood Company) was selected. USNC is a
joint venture of East West Development and Continuum.
- Denver Union Station will be a multimodal transportation hub of international significance and a prominent and distinctive gateway to downtown Denver and the region.
- The new vision will bring back the activity that the station once knew by making it a major multimodal transportation hub, bringing passenger rail, light rail, regional buses, commercial buses, taxis, shuttles and new development to the building.
- Denver Union Station is the only known RTD building to host ghosts from years past.