I spent a lot of time walking around town today, with two goals in mind: First of all, to work on my tan, and secondly, to take pictures for my upcoming posts about DC houses and neighborhoods. However, I also ended up popping into Union Station to look for some shoes. Union Station is a very beautiful train station and fits perfectly into what I think a train station should look like: grandiose, made out of marble, and with tall ceilings. The station was opened in 1907 and serves as the train hub for AmTrak, MARC and VRE commuter trains, and the DC Metro.
Architect Daniel Burnham, assisted by Pierce Anderson, used a number of techniques to convey this message: neoclassical elements combined the Roman architecture of the triumphal arch with the great vaulted spaces of Imperial Roman public baths, such as the Baths of Diocletian in Rome; prominent siting at the intersection of two of Pierre L'Enfant's avenues, with an orientation that faced the United States Capitol, just five blocks away; a massive scale, including a facade stretching more than 600' and a waiting room ceiling 96' above the floor; stone inscriptions and allegorical sculpture in the Beaux-Arts manner; expensive materials such as marble, gold leaf, and white granite from a previously unused quarry.
The station was restored and reopened in 1988. In addition to the normal train activity, Union Station now houses shops (including the shoe store I visited today), restaurants, a movie theatre, and a large food court downstairs.
The great hall - notice the raised statues :
Here's an interesting tidbit about these statues: