Thursday, August 6, 2015

Denver's Union Station

The City of Denver has a lot to brag about -- a bustling economy, winning sports teams and, of course, its proximity to the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

But, nowadays, the opening of its newly renovated Union Station is the thing most locals can't stop talking about. 

The station, located at 1701 Wynkoop Street in LoDo (lower downtown), is Denver's main railway station and central 
transportation hub. It is comprised of the historic terminal building, a train shed canopy, a 22-gate underground bus facility and light rail station.

The terminal first opened in 1881, and its present-day structure was completed in 1914. It stood as built for a long time, until 2012, when major renovations began. The goal was to redevelop the terminal as the centerpiece of a new transit-oriented mixed use development on the site's former rail yards.

The beloved building re-opened just last summer with the addition of the Crawford Hotel, several of the city's top restaurants, bars and shops, and an incredibly beautiful train hall.

I had the pleasure of visiting Denver's new Union Station today, without the benefit of a Google search or seeing any photos beforehand. Thus, I really didn't know what to expect. As it turned out, I'm glad. Pleasant surprises are nice!

Approaching the entrance, I came to a large, granite plaza, centered by a series of underground fountains shooting streams of water into the air. 

I spotted many families here today, all were enjoying themselves -- eating picnic lunches and cooling off with playful runs through the h2o. 

After a bit of people-watching, I stepped inside the station's Great Hall and was, immediately, taken aback by the busy-ness of the place and, of course, its beauty.

The 67-foot-high ceiling and white marble walls were impressive. So too were the refurbished terra-cotta stone floors, massive arches and imposing chandeliers.

I love the way the Great Hall is furnished. There are long wooden benches that remind of times gone by and comfy chairs for longer stays. And, in the center of the hall, I spot two shuffle board tables. 

Several local couples are playing now. From my vantage point, it appears they are enjoying a low-skill, but highly competitive, game. 

Before Union Station was completed, developers were quoted as saying the "Great Hall will become Denver's new living room." 

It was a bold prediction. But, for sure, the Great Hall at Union Station is becoming just that.

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