Centennial Press Kit

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  • June 27, 2014

    Union Station Contacts: Michael Tritt - 816-460-2278 mtritt@unionstation.org Nancy Besa - 816-674-4775 BesaPR@icloud.com

    Union Station Kansas City -- Celebrating 100th Anniversary Continues to Write a Rare Success Story

    Against the odds, Kansas City's historic train station second largest in US when

    opened in 1914 -- survives and thrives as special events and new exhibits are prepared for Centennial Celebration.

    Kansas City, MO The rare success of Kansas Citys Union Station is attracting substantial interest as Centennial Celebration plans are shared. Included in the unique and important Centennial activities are: September 5th Kansas City Celebrates at the Station The free family evening of entertainment and Centennial Kickoff to commemorate 100 years

    - Live Music Concert - Union Station Revealed The Monument Comes Alive in Breathtaking Outdoor

    Digital Show with Spectacular Fireworks Finale Presented by Ivy Funds, Waddell & Reed, Inc. and National World War I Museum

    October 30th Centennial Gala

    The once-in-a-lifetime exclusive dinner event, celebrating the Stations history in grand style with world-class entertainment

    October 31st Opening of the Union Station 100-year Historical Exhibition

    The unveiling of the permanent exhibit that shares Union Stations 100-year history

    November 1st & 2nd Open House & Re-dedication of Union Station

    Featuring history tours, sneak peeks of new attractions, entertainment from past and present, and historical trains on display

    Presented by Bank of America


  • Union Station History: In the early 1900's, a group of visionary entrepreneurs and 12 railroad company leaders came together to formulate a grand plan, a railroad station to rival any in the United States and beyond. The unlikely location for such a monument was to be along a small creek (OK Creek) which meandered at the edge of a dusty, burgeoning downtown Kansas City. In 1911, construction began on the massive station, designed in the Beaux-Arts architectural style by Chicago architect, Jarvis Hunt. Nearly four years later, on October 30, 1914, Union Station opened to the public. Just after midnight on the morning of Nov. 1, the first train, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Flyer, steamed into Union Station. Costing nearly $6 million, and part of an expansive $50 million investment by Kansas City Terminal Railroad, Union Station was declared by the Kansas City Star to be a magnificent building, elaborate in proportions and monumental in appearance. Immediately, Union Station became a regional hub for commerce and transportation. It also became Kansas Citys civic center for major events and celebrations. The phrase, "meet me under the clock" was coined as it was a unique point of reference inside the massive Union Station. The Station measured two blocks across the front faade, 850,000 square feet, and included a 17-acre campus with all variety of support facilities. Total rail traffic peaked in 1917 during WWI, with 79,368 trains passing through Union Station, including 271 in one day alone. In 1945, again during WWII, passenger traffic hit a record of 678,363 travelers through Union Station, many of who were uniformed military on their way home from overseas duty. What followed for Union Station were decades of intense use, famous visits and occurrences and, eventually, a long decline that would challenge even the brightest business leaders to keep the wrecking balls away, as was the unfortunate fate for far too many of the nations grand train stations. In 1996, voters on both the Missouri and Kansas sides of the city voted overwhelmingly for a sales tax to save, restore and redevelop what was an overly neglected and boarded-up Union Station. This bi-state tax, thought to be the first of its kind in the United States, infused $118 million into the total $250 million project. Determination and a grand vision again shaped a story of success that is now a monument known and beloved across the Midwest and beyond. Too many stories from the Golden Age of railroading have ended in regret. Not in Kansas City. Today, 1 million people annually walk the marble floors of Union Station, dine in her restaurants, attend meetings, shape future science and technology, and conduct the businesses of living, learning and leveraging our collective and diverse histories. People from all walks of life still line up, with queues often reaching into Grand Hall itself, to catch a train and travel across the plains, along rivers, over mountains and to destinations made equally special by the rhythm of the tracks.


  • Union Station Kansas City is a survivor. A young Ernest Hemingway and Walter Cronkiteboth of whom found their footings at Union Stationforever held special affection for this architectural masterpiece. Jazz greats Count Basie and Charlie Parker paid their dues here before finding international status. Fats Waller died on a train stopped at Union Station. Presidents Eisenhower and Truman made their ways through crowds of supporters in Grand Hall. Even the infamous Kansas City Massacre of 1933 -- involving Frank Jelly Nash and several federal agents -- added dramatic moments to Union Station's story. And, this magnificent and monumental example from the Golden Age of railroading still has many stories to tell. Union Station invites all of Kansas City and enthusiasts from across the nation -- to join in the celebration and share in the writing of the next 100-year chapters. This is a success story both rare and worth repeating.


    History Timeline 1903 The second great Kansas City flood consumes the railroad station in the city's West Bottoms district. Rail executives decide to build a new train station on higher ground and in a more central location. 1906 Twelve railroad companies unite to form the Kansas City Terminal Railroad (KCTR). Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt is selected to design the new Station. 1911 Construction begins on the massive building. Union Station is designed in the beaux-arts architectural style popular in the United States and France in the late 1800s and early 1900s. October 30, 1914 Union Station opens to the public. Just after midnight on the morning of Nov. 1, the first train, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Flyer, arrives at Union Station. The station cost nearly $6 million and was part of a $50 million investment by KCTR that also included track additions, switching towers, viaducts and bridges. 1917 Rail traffic peaks during WWI-with 79,368 trains passing through the Station, including 271 trains in one day. 1921 All five World War I allied commanders arrive by train at Union Station and meet together for groundbreaking ceremonies for the Liberty Memorial. Located across the street from Union Station, the Liberty Memorial is a monument dedicated to the men and women who served and died in World War I. The memorial was dedicated in 1926.


  • June 17, 1933 One of the most infamous dates in Kansas City history is the Union Station Massacre. Convicted mobster Frank Nash, under escort by a team of FBI agents and police officers was shot and killed outside the Station during a shootout. Four law enforcement officers were also killed. There are marks on the front of the building that for years were claimed as bullet holes from the shooting, but tests by Kansas City, Mo. police recently showed the marks could not have come from bullets. However, the myth and the mystery of the incident live on. There were various theories that other mobsters had committed the crime, but the only man ever charged was Adam Richetti who died in Missouri's gas chamber. As result of the massacre, Congress strengthened the power of the FBI. 1945 Passenger traffic hits a record 678,363 travelers with a significant number of America's armed forces personnel passing through Union Station on their way home from World War II. 1950-1970 Passenger rail traffic starts to decline as the airline industry grows. 1968 The Fred Harvey Company operations-including the Westport Room restaurant and retail shops close. 1972 Union Station receives federal designation as a protected structure and is placed on the National Register of Historic Places. 1973 Passenger traffic drops to only 32,842 for the year. Only six trains a day pass through the Station. 1974 Kansas City approves a development contract with Trizec, a Canadian redevelopment firm, to develop the Station and surrounding property. 1979-1986 Trizec constructs two office buildings, One and Two Pershing Square, on the property around the Station but is unable to make improvements to the building. 1983 The Station closes except for Amtrak's inflatable bubble inside the Grand Hall and the Lobster Pot restaurant. Amtrak leaves in 1985 and the Lobster Pot closes in 1989. 1988 The city of Kansas City, Mo. initiates legal action against the redevelopment company for failing to redevelop the Station.


  • 1994 The City and Trizec agree to settle their six-year lawsuit. A new not-for-profit corporation, Union Station Assistance Corporation (USAC), is established to own the Station. 1996 Voters in Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson County in Kansas approve a one-eighth of a cent bi-state sales tax to restore and redevelop Union Station and create a science museum. The tax raised $118 million toward the total $250 million project. The remaining money was raised through private donations and federal funds. The passage of the bi-state tax is thought to be the first of its kind in the history of the United States. November 10, 1999 Union Station opens to the public once again. The building, restored to its former glory, now includes shops, restau