In its heyday, it served as a departure station and a final destination for generations of tourists and tradespeople, families and farmers, soldiers and fortune seekers.
Fred Harvey Restaurants, with their flagship located at Union Station, opened in rail depots across the west, becoming the first chain restaurant in America. The prim and particularly trained waitresses known as Harvey Girls became legendary and, fairly often, became brides. The 1946 movie, “The Harvey Girls” starred Judy Garland.
With the steep decline in railroad travel in the mid-20th century, Union Station fell into disuse, disrepair, and finally, in 1977, desolation.
Almost two decades later, civic pride, countless donors, and a historic bistate tax combined to begin the restoration of its soaring, elaborate ceilings, marble floors, bronze fixtures and countless other elegant features, with the addition of other attractions and amenities. In 1999, Union Station once again became a popular destination. Yes, trains still pick up and drop off passengers. Now the building also houses theaters, restaurants, Science City, The KC Rail Experience history museum, exhibition spaces, a planetarium, a post office, home offices for key civic organizations, and a vast hall for festivals and other fun. But as you walk through the storied spaces of Union Station, you can still sense the echoes of history and imagine yourself a time traveler.
Check out what’s happening now: https://unionstation.org/about-union-station-kansas-city/