Union Station (Pittsburgh)

Union Station (or Pennsylvania Station, commonly called Penn Station) is a historic train station in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. It was one of several passenger rail stations that served Pittsburgh during the 20th century (other stations included the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Station, the Baltimore and Ohio Station, and Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal), and it is the only surviving station in active use.

Union Station
Pittsburgh, PA
Amtrak inter-city rail station
Pittsburgh Union Station Wide 2900px.jpg
Location1100 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
United States
Coordinates40°26′41.1″N 79°59′31.7″W / 40.444750°N 79.992139°W / 40.444750; -79.992139Coordinates: 40°26′41.1″N 79°59′31.7″W / 40.444750°N 79.992139°W / 40.444750; -79.992139
Owned byAmtrak
Line(s)Keystone Corridor (Pittsburgh Line)
Fort Wayne Line
Platforms3 + 1 disused
Tracks2 + 3 disused
ConnectionsIntercity bus Greyhound Lines at Grant Street Transportation Center
Intercity bus Fullington Trailways at Grant Street Transportation Center Pittsburgh Light Rail (Occasional use)
Construction
Bicycle facilitiesYes
Disabled accessYes
ArchitectD.H. Burnham & Company
Architectural styleBeaux Arts
Other information
Station codePGH
History
Opened1903
Rebuilt1954, 1988
ElectrifiedNo
Passengers
FY 2019129,946[1]Decrease 6.3%
Services
Preceding station BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak Following station
Alliance
toward Chicago
Capitol Limited Connellsville
Terminus Pennsylvanian Greensburg
toward New York
Former services
Preceding station BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak Following station
Alliance
toward Chicago
Pennsylvanian
1998–2003
Greensburg
Youngstown
1997–2005
toward Chicago
Three Rivers
1995–2005
Greensburg
toward New York
Youngstown
1990–1995
toward Chicago
Broadway Limited Greensburg
Canton
1971–1990
toward Chicago
Columbus National Limited Wilkinsburg
Terminus Fort Pitt Pitcairn
toward Altoona
Preceding station PennDOT Following station
Terminus Parkway Limited Wilkinsburg
toward Greensburg
Preceding station Pennsylvania Railroad Following station
Alliance
toward Chicago
Main Line East Liberty
Federal Street
toward Chicago
Terminus Pitcairn Local 28th Street
Carnegie
toward Columbus
Columbus – Pittsburgh Terminus
Terminus Pittsburgh – Oil City East Liberty
toward Oil City
Kittanning Local East Liberty
toward Kittanning
Federal Street
toward Toledo
Toledo – Pittsburgh Terminus
Federal Street
toward Erie
Erie – Pittsburgh
Federal Street
toward Enon
Enon – Pittsburgh
Federal Street
toward Cleveland
Cleveland – Pittsburgh
Federal Street
toward Ashtabula
Ashtabula – Pittsburgh
Fourth Avenue
toward Washington
Chartiers Branch
Fourth Avenue
toward Wheeling
Wheeling – Pittsburgh
Fourth Avenue Monongahela Division
Official nameRotunda of the Pennsylvania Railroad Station
DesignatedApril 11, 1973
Reference no.73001587[2]
Official namePennsylvania Railroad Station
DesignatedApril 22, 1976
Reference no.76001597[2]
Official namePennsylvania Railroad Station Rotunda
Designated1991[3]
Official nameThe Pennsylvanian (Union Station)
Designated2003[3]

The historic station was designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and built from 1898 to 1904. The station's rotunda was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, followed by the entire building in 1976. In the 1980s, the Burnham station building was converted to apartment use, while an annex was built to its east, serving as a more modern facility for Amtrak passengers.

HistoryEdit

 
Union Station in 1875

The current station replaced the original Union Station destroyed in 1877.[4]

 
PRR train at Pittsburgh Union Station, 31 March 1968

Unlike many union stations built in the U.S. to serve the needs of more than one railroad, this facility connected the Pennsylvania Railroad with several subsidiary lines; for that reason it was renamed in 1912 to match other Pennsylvania Stations. Thus, Union Station is a misnomer, as other major passenger rail carriers served travelers at other stations. For instance, the New York Central used Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Station, the Wabash Railroad used Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad used both the Baltimore and Ohio Station and the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Station.

The station building was designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and built 1898–1904. The materials were a grayish-brown terra cotta that looked like brownstone, and brick. Though Burnham is regarded more as a planner and organizer rather than a designer of details, which were left to draftsmen like Peter Joseph Weber, the most extraordinary feature of the monumental train station is his: the rotunda with corner pavilions. At street level the rotunda sheltered turning spaces for carriages beneath wide low vaulted spaces that owed little to any historicist style. Above, the rotunda sheltered passengers in a spectacular waiting room. Burnham's firm completed more than a dozen projects in Pittsburgh, some on quite prominent sites. The rotunda is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[2] Service began at the station on October 12, 1901.[5]

On January 3, 1954 the Pennsylvania Railroad announced a $34.8 million (2021 dollars) in expansion and renovation for the complex. To the beginning of the 1970s the station remained a major stop for several of the PRR's leading east-west trains: Broadway Limited (Chicago-New York), Manhattan Limited (Chicago-New York); Penn Texas (St. Louis-New York) and Spirit of St. Louis (St. Louis-New York).

 
Penn Central's Spirit of St Louis (St. Louis-Cincinnati-Pittsburgh-Philadelphia-Washington express) consisting of a mere 4 cars, a shadow of its former prestigious self. July 1970

By the late 1970s the Penn Central Corporation was accepting bids for the complex and was purchased by the US General Services Administration. There were proposals in 1978 to make the structure into a federal office building, a new city hall and a senior citizens apartment building. Amtrak proposed that the whole structure remain a train station and rail offices.[6] In 1974 County Council proposed having the station be the site of the then planned David L. Lawrence Convention Center.[7] The Buncher Development Company had an option to buy the property as late as 1984.[8]

A $20 million restoration of Union Station began in 1986 to convert the office tower into apartments.[9] It is now called The Pennsylvanian and opened to residents on May 23, 1988. The concourse, which is no longer open to the public, was transformed into a lobby for commercial spaces on the ground floor and the paint cleaned off the great central skylight. The rotunda which once offered shelter for carriages to turn around is now closed to vehicular traffic; modern cars and trucks are too heavy for the brick road surface and risk caving in the roof to the parking garage below it.

Current passenger serviceEdit

Union Station continues to serve as an active railway station, but through an annex on the Liberty Avenue side of the building. It is the western terminus of Amtrak's Pennsylvanian route and is along the Capitol Limited route. Until 2005, Pittsburgh was also serviced by the Three Rivers (a replacement service for the legendary Broadway Limited), an extended version of the Pennsylvanian that terminated in Chicago. Its cancellation marked the first time in Pittsburgh's railway history that the city was served by just two daily passenger trains (the Pennsylvanian and Capitol Limited).

Union Station's Amtrak station code is PGH.

ArchitectureEdit

In September 1978, The New Yorker art critic Brendan Gill proclaimed that Pittsburgh's Penn Station is "one of the great pieces of Beaux-Arts architecture in America...[one of the] symbols of the nation."[10]

Bus rapid transitEdit

Penn Station
 
East Busway buses in front of Union Station
Coordinates40°26′38″N 79°59′30″W / 40.4438°N 79.9918°W / 40.4438; -79.9918
Owned byPort Authority
Line(s)
Platforms2 side platforms
Tracks2
Construction
Structure typeat-grade
History
OpenedMay 12, 1988
ClosedSeptember 2, 2007
Passengers
2018634[11] (weekday boardings)
Services
Preceding station Port Authority of Allegheny County Following station
Terminus East Busway Herron
toward Swissvale
Shuttle
Special events
Steel Plaza
Terminus
Former services
Preceding station Port Authority of Allegheny County Following station
Terminus 42 South Hills Village
via Beechview
Steel Plaza

The Port Authority operates a bus rapid transit station served by the East Busway line. Originally, the station had regular light rail service to Steel Plaza when PAAC opened a spur to Penn Park station in 1988. The line linked the 1985 downtown subway to the East Busway.[12] However, the line was difficult to integrate into other services, since it used a portion of an old single-tracked former Pennsylvania Railroad tunnel. This tunnel travels beneath the US Steel Tower, and the building's structural supports are on each side of the tunnel, prohibiting the installation of a second track. The station is still listed as part of the Red Line subway service, but it has had no regular service since 1993.[13]

 
Penn Station in 1994 showing chartered light rail train to Steel Plaza from the light rail platforms (as of 2020, platforms are still there), about a year after regular service ceased.

As late as 2001, the line served no more than two afternoon rush-hour trains. An official reason for the 2007 discontinuation of service has not been given; however, it may be attributed to the aforementioned infrastructure limitations as well as limited ridership. The station continues to be used in extremely limited circumstances, including as part of the Port Authority's detoured transportation routes following Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 and as part of the "Railvolution" transit convention in October 2018.[14][15]

Port Authority bus connectionsEdit

  • 1 - Freeport Road
  • 11 - Fineview
  • 39 - Brookline
  • 40 - Mount Washington
  • 44 - Knoxville
  • P1 - East Busway All Stops
  • P2 - East Busway Short
  • P7 - McKeesport Flyer
  • P10 - Allegheny Valley Flyer
  • P12 - Holiday Park Flyer
  • P13 - Mount Royal Flyer
  • P16 - Penn Hills Flyer
  • P17 - Lincoln Park Flyer
  • P67 - Monroeville Flyer
  • P68 - Braddock Hills Flyer
  • P69 - Trafford Flyer
  • P71 - Swissvale Flyer
  • P78 - Oakmont Flyer

Suburban transit connectionsEdit

Intercity bus connectionsEdit

Grant Street Transportation CenterEdit

Across the street is the Grant Street Transportation Center.[16] It serves as an intercity bus station for:

GalleryEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Amtrak State Fact Sheet, FY2019, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" (PDF). Amtrak. May 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Historic Landmark Plaques 1968–2009 (PDF). Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  4. ^ "MultiStories: The Violent Beginning of Union Station". www.pittsburghmagazine.com. 21 September 2018. Retrieved 2019-06-15.
  5. ^ Lorant, Stefan. "Historic Pittsburgh Chronology". Historic Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh Digital Research Library. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  7. ^ "The Pittsburgh Press – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  9. ^ "The Pittsburgh Press – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  11. ^ "System Map Winter 2018". Port Authority.
  12. ^ "The Antique Motor Coach Association of Pennsylvania – The 80's at PAT – 1980 – 1989". 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  13. ^ "Port AUthority Information – Penn Station". Archived from the original on December 22, 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  14. ^ "TransitBlog – Port Authority of Allegheny County: Super Bowl Night Service Detours". TransitBlog. Port Authority of Allegheny County. 4 February 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
  15. ^ Blazina, Ed (21 October 2018). "Pittsburgh hosts 'Railvolution' conference pushing development around transit facilities". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  16. ^ "Grant Street Transportation Center". Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  17. ^ "Bus Station Locator – Greyhound". Retrieved 25 March 2016.

External linksEdit