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Washington, DC: Union Station


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:

Comments (6)

Wow, I am amazed how clean looking it is! I love the architecture and the ceiling is gorgeous!! It must be huge to house a movie theatre inside! I am adding this to my list of things to see if I ever get back to DC.


What a gorgeous building, and I always love a Roman theme!

Modesty panels?! Hey, it's the 21st century - I think they can take those off now, ha ha!

It's an amazing building and your photos are wonderful. But did you find any shoes?!

Annie, yes I did! I bought some cute black shoes. Thanks for asking!

I have NEVER been to Washington DC!
I really need to plan a trip, and I think spring looks so beautiful with the blossoms and blue skies. Thanks for all the photos.
I am inspired. Brad used to live in Baltimore, and would LOVE to go back and show me the sights!

Fabulous photos of an amazing building!
The Great Hall ceiling is just beautiful. The "modesty panels' reminds me of the cloth that had to be painted over the nude figures of Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sixtine Chapel.

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