Erected in an explosion of growth and opportunity,
it was Neo-Gothic optimism announcing itself,
if not its host, to the world. Steam and diesel
propelled and pushed and pulled millions
through its platforms and gates, a paroxysm
of humanity eating its food, using its facilities,
buying its books and magazines and newspapers;
train culture was the apogee of print culture –
you needed something to do for those long hours
and days across plains and valleys and mountains.
Like aging silent film star after the talkies, it sat
and drank and brooded as technology superseded
its purpose, rendering it redundant and making its
redundancy its rendering, its heavy makeup and
elaborate sets archaic for a utilitarian age. Still,
it sits and watches, waiting, a reminder
of when cities still dreamed dreams.
St. Louis Union Station was built in the in 1890s, designed by architect Theodore C. Link. At its height, the “Midway” of the station serviced more than 100,000 people a day. In the early 1980s, the station underwent a $150 million renovation, and now includes a hotel, shops and restaurants. The famous photograph of President Truman holding a news paper with the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” was taken on a train here.