Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Train Stations

As you may or may not know, I am terribly interested in all forms of alternative/ lower-carbon modes of transportation. To me, the ways that we choose to move about and through our environments is tied irrevocably to our own personal relationship to all facets of the environment. There are walkable cities and drivable ones; places that love bikes and others that are just straight up scary.
Of all these varied forms of lower-carbon transports, the one I’ve recently become most enamored with architecturally is that of the train. Specifically, I’ve fallen for train stations. There are a lot of train stations in the United States that date to the early 1900s that I find compelling and inspiring in an architectural and even, social sense. I’m talking about the Union Stations that lay scattered across the country, these vast and epic architectural monuments from a time long past. They’re symbols of a day and age when trains ruled the world and the relentless march of the steel track was unstoppable and unforgiving.
But now… these places all suck. The glamour has gone; the patina of time has taken over. Like many of the other emblems of that age, the train station has fallen victim to the ravages of time. And it’s all too apparent. These massive buildings-though mostly newly renovated- sit half empty, cordonded off, inaccessible and underutilized. Instead of being meaningful, useful members of the contemporary architectural scene of our cities, they’re merely blips on the tourist radar, poorly done indoor shopping malls, or half-working, semi-revived train stations.
So, I’ve taken it upon myself to begin talking about these places once again. Starting with Los Angeles’s Union Station, I’m going to begin a series of posts on the big stations I come across during my travels. As of now, I’m planning on writing about stations in Los Angeles, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, and possibly San Diego. If you would like to submit pictures or text about train stations you’ve been to anywhere in the world, please do so. Email submissions to and label them accordingly!

Upcycle, please

Antonio Pacheco

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