The 25 Most Beautiful Old Train Stations in America

The rise of the automobile, the development of the interstate highway system, and the growth of the airline industry signaled the slow death of America's rail lines. But a handful of majestic stations from the golden age of train travel still stand as a testament to this bygone era. Scroll through for a peek at train stations throughout the United States that continue to captivate locals and tourists alike with their monumental spaces and architectural flourishes.

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Cincinnati Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio

Wikimedia Commons via Dacoslett

Passenger trains pull in just a few times a week to this 1930s-era terminal that now serves primarily as home to three museums, a theater, and a historical library. This Art Deco temple to transportation is much loved by architecture aficionados, who appreciate the delicate bas-relief carvings, dark green terrazzo fountain, and the massive clock that glows with neon light at night.

Grand Central Terminal in New York City

Wikimedia Commons via Arnoldius

While you’ll certainly want to look down when you’re minding the gap between the train and the platform at this iconic Big Apple landmark, be sure to keep your head up as you pass through the main concourse. You certainly don’t want to miss the famous celestial mural, a collaboration of artists and astronomers, that’s emblazoned with familiar constellations like Orion, Taurus, and Gemini.

Los Angeles Union Station in Los Angeles, California

Wikimedia Commons via Peetlesnumber1

Just as Union Station consolidated passenger rail service from the Union Pacific, Santa Fe, and Southern Pacific Railroads into one transit hub, its architecture blended Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival, and Art Deco into a singular style known as Mission Moderne. The classic California aesthetic is most evident in the 11,200-square-foot waiting area that features an arched entryway, six 3,000-pound brass chandeliers, and terra-cotta floors with decorative inlaid marble.

Union Station in Denver, Colorado

Wikimedia Commons via DarkShark0591 at English Wikipedia

Opened in 1881 as a train depot, Union Station has been reconceived as an intermodal transit station. After more than a decade of planning and construction, the complex now features a terminal building, a light rail station, an underground bus terminal, a hotel, and an open-air train hall. The Beaux-Arts-style arched windows, metal canopy, and ornate corbels and cornices proclaim their 19th-century architectural sensibilities in Denver’s otherwise modern Central Business District.

Main Street Station in Richmond, Virginia

Wikimedia Commons via Jim from Richmond, Virginia

Get a little taste of Europe in the one-time capital of the Confederacy when you visit this National Historic Landmark that dates back to 1901. Located on Main Street in Richmond, the radiant Second Renaissance Revival depot and its steeply pitched roof would look equally at home on a grand boulevard in 19th-century France.

Chicago Union Station in Chicago, Illinois

Wikimedia Commons via Velvet

While all other intercity terminals in Chicago have closed, this one has been going strong for more than 90 years. Every day, some 140,000 commuters rush down the marble entryway steps and through the 110-foot-high atrium of the Beaux-Arts-style Great Hall, which is illuminated by a barrel-vaulted skylight.

Union Station in Washington, D.C.

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More than 40 million people descend on this intermodal transit station each year, some relying on it as a stopover en route to Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, or New York City, and others simply admiring its timeless design. Architect Daniel Burnham drew inspiration for the station’s concourse statuary from the Roman Baths of Diocletian, and for its facade from the Arch of Constantine.

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30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Wikimedia Commons via Bohao Zhao

Philadelphia’s main railroad station is a mélange of head-turning design. In the Art Deco concourse, a 95-foot-high coffered ceiling, a retro split-flap display, and grand chandeliers lend old-world elegance to everyday commuting, while a well-hidden bowling alley, hospital, and chapel turned mortuary add an element of mystery to a station that sees close to 30,000 commuters and other travelers on a typical weekday.

South Station in Boston, Massachusetts

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The largest railroad station in Greater Boston should be a stop on any self-guided architectural walking tour of Beantown. Though the clock on this Neoclassical-inspired depot echoes London’s Big Ben, the eagle perched above and the New England-sourced granite blocks that make up the exterior put a distinctly American stamp on it.

Sunset Station in San Antonio, Texas

Wikimedia Commons via Tony Kent

The Baldwin steam locomotive on display at this Amtrak railroad station has been out of commission since the 1950s, and it’s not the only feature of the San Antonio Sunset Station that’s frozen in time. The 116-year-old depot gives a nod to Spanish missions of the 18th and early 19th century, with red clay roof tiles, stained-glass windows, and cast stone ornamentation.

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Santa Fe Depot in San Diego, California

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The dome-shaped cupolas on many a downtown San Diego building take their inspiration from the domed campaniles that flank the arched entryway of the Santa Fe Depot. The Spanish-Moorish architectural influences continue indoors, with redwood beam ceilings and ceramic wainscoted walls.

Union Station in Utica, New York

Wikimedia Commons via Doug Kerr

A one-stop shop for the time-starved train commuter, Union Station offers eight Amtrak trains per day, a 15,000-square-foot marbled waiting room, a restaurant, and a barbershop for those last-minute trims. As if the interior weren’t enough to impress, the Italianate-inspired granite exterior wows passersby with 13 bays along the front facade, painstakingly carved parapets, and soaring eagle sculptures.

Union Station in New Haven, Connecticut

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At the New Haven Union Station, passengers delight in the airy, 35-foot-high waiting area. The decorative ceiling, ornate chandeliers, and graceful arched windows lend elegance to a quotidian commute.

Union Station in Worcester, Massachusetts

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By day, Union Station serves as a hub for central Massachusetts commuters, but by night it is transformed into a lavish arena for private events. Its allure as an entertainment venue is no surprise given its opulent ceilings, stained-glass windows, and marble columns.

Union Station in Portland, Oregon

Wikimedia Commons via Daderot

The Old Town Chinatown district of northern Portland is chock full of historic buildings, perhaps none so identifiable as the city’s 1896 Romanesque Revival train station., which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The always-illuminated blue-and-gold neon “Go by Train” sign made its debut in 1948, went dark in 1971, and was then restored in 1985.

J. Douglas Galyon Depot in Greensboro, North Carolina

Wikimedia Commons via Rtjacob

Build in 1927 as a replacement for the Southern Railway Depot, Greensboro’s historic station features a sprawling interior mural depicting the Southern Railway as it stood in the 1920s. The exterior drew inspiration from the 19th Beaux-Arts design movement, evident in the arched entryway, the ornate lintel across the top of the three-story building, and its imposing ionic columns.

Baltimore Penn Station in Baltimore, Maryland

Wikimedia Commons via Irteagle102704 at English Wikipedia

Although the front plaza of Penn Station faces such hallowed haunts as the Mount Vernon neighborhood and the Peabody Conservatory of Music, the main attraction on North Charles Street is the station itself. Passersby and passengers alike take shelter beneath the canopy of the Beaux-Arts granite-faced depot and inside the skylit concourse adorned with white marble walls.

Barstow Harvey House in Barstow, California

Wikimedia Commons via Ron Reiring

Set against the majestic Mojave Desert, Barstow Harvey House accommodates not only an Amtrak station, but also two museums, the Barstow Chamber of Commerce, and additional city offices. Commuters who take a moment to appreciate the grandeur of the 1911 station can admire its regal colonnades and arcades, domed towers, and bold clay tile roof.

San Juan Capistrano Depot in San Juan Capistrano, California

Wikipedia Commons via Robert A. Estremo

Exiting the concourse and stepping onto the leafy courtyard of this station, you may well think your train was mistakenly diverted to an 18th-century Spanish Colonial mission. The red brick walls, domed tower, and decorative bells pay tribute to the design of the real Mission San Juan Capistrano just one block away. 

Santa Fe Depot in San Bernardino, California

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One look at this monumental landmark on 3rd Street is enough to stop you cold in your tracks. After a fire burned down the original wood train station in 1916, the city invested the equivalent of $13 million to construct a more resilient Mission Revival-style replacement. The “new” station features a fireproof stucco exterior with a red tile roof and four triumphant domed towers flanking its central atrium.

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Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center in Fort Worth, Texas

Wikimedia Commons via David Wilson from Oak Park, Illinois, USA

The waiting room of this transit hub, which officially opened in 2002, is soaked with sun and light thanks to a wealth of chandeliers and stained-glass windows. No less elegant, the exterior of the edifice is distinguished by a 70-foot-high tower with a four-faced clock. 

Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri via smiteme

Every inch of this 850,000-square-foot Beaux-Arts train station is enchanting, from its mansard roof to its marble floors. But the most dramatic feature of the historic transit hub, built in 1914, has to be the 95-foot-high coffered ceiling in the Grand Hall and the three 3,500-pound chandeliers that hang from it.

Alvarado Transportation Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Wikimedia Commons via

The respectful Mission Revival design is reason enough to make a stop at this transit hub that occupies the site of a former railway station that burned down in 1993. The clay tile roof, spacious arcade, and grand clock tower authentically re-create the look and feel of an old Spanish outpost in modern-day Albuquerque.

Texas and Pacific Depot in Marshall, Texas

Wikipedia Commons via Nicolas Henderson from Coppell, Texas

When you alight from a train in Marshall, Texas, you’ll be welcomed by a cheery red brick edifice edged with pristine white trim and surrounded by a generous porch. The sole surviving building of 57 that once made up the Texas and Pacific Railway complex, the station is still staffed by ticket agents seven days a week.

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King Street Station in Seattle, Washington

Wikimedia Commons via Joe Mabel

Tourists visit Pioneer Square in Seattle to soak up a little history, visit the many local eating and drinking establishments, and check out the city’s stately, Italianate train depot situated between South King and South Jackson Street. The footbridge that crosses the tracks is the ideal vantage point from which to appreciate the station’s granite-and-brick facade, terra-cotta embellishments, and soaring clock tower.

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