Union Station (Pittsburgh)

Union Station, also known as Pennsylvania Station and commonly called Penn Station, is a historic train station in Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was one of several passenger rail stations that served Pittsburgh during the 20th century; others 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
Union Station in Pittsburgh, February 2007
General information
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; -79.992139
Owned byAmtrak
Line(s)Norfolk Southern Pittsburgh Line (Keystone Corridor)
Norfolk Southern 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)
Bicycle facilitiesYes
ArchitectD.H. Burnham & Company
Architectural styleBeaux Arts
Other information
Station codeAmtrak: PGH
Rebuilt1954, 1988
FY 2022117,966 annually[1] (Amtrak)
Preceding station Amtrak Following station
toward Chicago
Capitol Limited Connellsville
Terminus Pennsylvanian Greensburg
toward New York
Former services
Preceding station Amtrak Following station
toward Chicago
toward Chicago
Three Rivers
toward New York
toward Chicago
Broadway Limited Greensburg
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
toward Chicago
Main Line East Liberty
Federal Street
toward Chicago
Terminus Kittanning Local East Liberty
toward Kittanning
Pitcairn Local 28th Street
Pittsburgh – Oil City East Liberty
toward Oil City
Federal Street
toward Ashtabula
Ashtabula – Pittsburgh Terminus
Fourth Avenue
toward Washington
Chartiers Branch
Federal Street
toward Cleveland
Cleveland – Pittsburgh
Federal Street
toward Detroit
Detroit – Pittsburgh
Federal Street
toward Enon
Enon – Pittsburgh
Federal Street
toward Erie
Erie – Pittsburgh
Fourth Avenue Monongahela Division
toward St. Louis
St. Louis – Pittsburgh
Fourth Avenue
toward Wheeling
Wheeling – Pittsburgh
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
Official nameThe Pennsylvanian (Union Station)

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 Amtrak moved to an annex on the building's east side.

History edit

Union Station in 1875

The current station replaced the original Union Station which was destroyed in the Pittsburgh railroad strike of 1877.[4]

Unlike many union stations built in the U.S. to serve the needs of more than one railroad, this facility only served the Pennsylvania Railroad and its 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 between 1898 and 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 its 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 US$3,600,000 (equivalent to $40,344,676 in 2023) 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).

PRR train at Pittsburgh Union Station, March 31, 1968

By the late 1970s the Penn Central Corporation was accepting bids for the complex and it 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, the 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” [1] 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 service edit

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 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).

Architecture edit

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]

Pittsburgh Regional Transit edit

Penn Station
East Busway buses in front of Union Station
General information
LocationEast Busway at 12th Street
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Coordinates40°26′38″N 79°59′30″W / 40.4438°N 79.9918°W / 40.4438; -79.9918
Owned byPittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT)
Platforms2 side platforms (busway)
2 side platforms (light rail)
Connections  PRT: 1, 6, 11, 15, 19L, 29, 31, 39, 40, 44, 86, 87, 88, 91, G31
Structure typeAt grade
ParkingYes, paid
OpenedMay 12, 1988
20191,339 (weekdays)[11]
Preceding station Pittsburgh Regional Transit Following station
Terminus East Busway Herron
toward Swissvale
(special events only)
Steel Plaza
Former services
Preceding station Port Authority of Allegheny County Following station
Terminus 42 South Hills Village
via Beechview
Steel Plaza

Bus Rapid Transit edit

Penn Station is an at grade station operated by Pittsburgh Regional Transit. The station is located on the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway and is served by busway routes P1, P2, P7, P10, P12, P16, P17, P67, P68, P69, P71, P76 and P78.

East of the station is a bus layover area and the East Liberty Garage used by routes 1, 6, 11, 15, 19L, 29, 31, 39, 40, 44 and G31. These routes serve the Penn Station busway stops immediately before going out of service and are the first stops they make as they go into service. Routes 86, 87, 88 and 91 stop just outside of the station on Liberty and Penn Avenues.

Light Rail Transit edit

There is also a seldom used light rail station at the site. It opened in 1988 with regular shuttle service to Steel Plaza station, as well as two afternoon rush-hour trains on the 42S (now the Red Line).[12] However, the station was difficult to integrate into other services, since it used a 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.[13] The shuttle service was discontinued in 1993, but the two 42S afternoon rush-hour trains continued to serve the station until 2007. Since 2007, the station has seen occasional use, mostly for charters or special events, such as part of the agency's detoured transportation routes following Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011, as part of the "Railvolution" transit convention in October 2018,[14][15] and during concrete repair work in the downtown tunnels between Steel Plaza and Gateway Station in March 2023.[16]

Currently, there are plans to revive light rail service to Penn Station with the Brown Line.[17]

Suburban transit connections edit

Intercity bus connections edit

Grant Street Transportation Center edit

Across the street is the Grant Street Transportation Center.[18] It serves as an intercity bus station for:

Gallery edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Amtrak Fact Sheet, Fiscal Year 2022: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania" (PDF). Amtrak. June 2023. Retrieved August 30, 2023.
  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 July 28, 2011.
  4. ^ "MultiStories: The Violent Beginning of Union Station". www.pittsburghmagazine.com. September 21, 2018. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  5. ^ Lorant, Stefan. "Historic Pittsburgh Chronology". Historic Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh Digital Research Library. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
  6. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  7. ^ "The Pittsburgh Press – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  8. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  9. ^ "The Pittsburgh Press – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  10. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved March 25, 2016.
  11. ^ "System Map". Pittsburgh Regional Transit. Winter 2023.
  12. ^ "The Antique Motor Coach Association of Pennsylvania – The 80's at PAT – 1980–1989". 2008. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
  13. ^ "Port Authority Information – Penn Station". Archived from the original on December 22, 2007. Retrieved August 30, 2009.
  14. ^ "TransitBlog – Port Authority of Allegheny County: Super Bowl Night Service Detours". TransitBlog. Port Authority of Allegheny County. February 4, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
  15. ^ Blazina, Ed (October 21, 2018). "Pittsburgh hosts 'Railvolution' conference pushing development around transit facilities". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved August 27, 2019.
  16. ^ "Pittsburgh Regional Transit announces light-rail service disruption this weekend". WTAE. 2023-03-22. Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  17. ^ "PRT "Project H"" (PDF). Retrieved June 22, 2023.
  18. ^ "Grant Street Transportation Center". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2016.

External links edit