From its magnificent 65-foot, barrel-vaulted ceiling in the Grand Hall to its Victorian-engineered Train Shed totaling more than 11 acres, St. Louis Union Station remains one of our nation's true architectural "gems." Built at a cost of $6.5 million in the 1890s St. Louis Union Station was designed by German-born architect Theodore C. Link of St. Louis who won the prized project in a nationwide contest. In the early 1980s , the Station underwent a $150 million restoration.
The architecture of St. Louis Union Station is an eclectic mix of Romanesque styles. The Station's interior and exterior details are a combination of both Richardsonian Romanesque tradition and French Romanesque or Norman style. In fact, Link modeled the grandiose Station after Carcassone, a walled, medieval city in southern France. These designs are most evident when entering the Station's Headhouse and the impressive Grand Hall, with its sweeping archways, fresco and gold leaf detailing, scagliola surfaces, mosaics and art glass windows. One can imagine the incredible impression the room created in 1894 on opening day. Today, the Grand Hall continues to awe visitors as the St. Louis Union Station Hotel's lobby and lounge area.
A most impressive feature of the Grand Hall is the "Allegorical Window," a hand-made stained glass window with hand-cut Tiffany glass strategically positioned above the Station's main entryway. The window features three women representing the main U.S. train stations during the 1890s -- New York, St. Louis and San Francisco.
The Midway And Train Shed
The Second main area, The Midway, once serviced more than 100,000 rail passengers a day. The 610-foot-long and 70-foot-wide concourse was connected to the massive Train Shed, where passengers lined up to board trains through one of 32 boarding gates. The Midway was constructed with a light steel trussed roof of glass and iron. Today it serves as a unique venue for receptions and events for the St. Louis Union Station Hotel.
The Train Shed, 11.5 acres of sweeping arches, was the largest single-span Train Shed ever constructed. George H. Pegram was selected to design the Train Shed that is attached to the the Headhouse, using his patented truss in 1891. The Train Shed covered the original 32 tracks leading into St. Louis Union Station. It measures 140 feet tall, 700 feet long by 600 feet wide. The roof system is a series of five Pegram trusses combined to form a gigantic arch. At it's peak, there is a skylight that is 36 feet wide, that was originally covered with glass. Construction started July 7, 1892 and finished in November 1893. The Train Shed was extended another 180 feet in 1904. With the increase in train travel, in 1929, ten more tracks were added to the west. It wasn't logical to add another Pegram truss to the side and throw off the symmetry of original Train Shed. Instead, they built an umbrella-type covering, that you can see along 20th Street.
The Train Shed and Headhouse were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.
In addition to the St. Louis Union Station Train Shed, a number of Pegram truss bridges are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places
The Shed currently houses retail and restaurant facilities, a portion of the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, the lake, event and parking areas.