Union Station Reconstruction in the 1970s

Check out this photo of Union Station being rehabilitated. Thankfully they saved it instead of knocking it down like they did so many other beautiful old buildings back then (i.e., look at everything in L’Enfant -… ugh). The photo below was taken on December 20th, 1974, two weeks after the TWA Mount Weather air disaster.

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Union Station under construction in 1974
Union Station under construction in 1974

Source: Library of Congress

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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Notice the decked/tunneled section south of Fort Totten, then the over 90-degree turn to the east, then the decked/tunneled section between Galloway Street and Gallatin Street, with the Metrorail Glenmont Route (Red Line trains) following the North Central Freeway (I-95 south of Fort Totten and I-70S north of Fort Totten), and with the Metrorail Greenbelt Route (Green Line trains) following the Northeast Freeway (I-95 east of Fort Totten). The area between Galloway Street and Gallatin Street where the Northeast Freeway was proposed was mostly open fields then and still is now.

Drawings of Proposed I-95 Through D.C.

Here are some terrific old maps from 1971 showing the remainder of what would have …

  • publius washingtoniensis

    The Union Station Visitor Center project was a desecration — the big hole, “the Primary Audio-Visual Experience,” was nothing more than a slide show. Nobody ever went there. The “new” station built behind the concourse was pasteboard and plastic — sheer junk. Suffice it to say, this iteration lasted less than a decade, and was replaced by some miracle with the handsome tourist attraction-rail and bus station arrangement that we have today. Sometimes government gets it right.

    • Steve in DC

      Well said !!

  • Sheila

    Either my Great, or Great, Great Grandfather helped build Union Station. Someone in my family has a photo of him and some of the crew while it was being built. If I can find out who has it, I will get a copy and send it to you. I’ve only seen it a couple times myself.
    The Washington Post Society page has information about my grandparents, who were not even married yet, in it from July 12, 1914. The Washington Social Glee Club had their first annual picnic at Chesapeake Beach last Wednesday!!!
    Mr. Tillett is the son or grand son of the one above that helped build Union Station.
    Can’t believe my grandparents were on the SOCIETY pages of the Washington Post!!

  • Kris Rehberg

    They didn’t really rebuild or save Union Station at the time of this picture. It was being converted to the failed National Visitor Center which only opened the floor and started (but didn’t finish) building the parking garage. The roof was later found to be on the verge of falling in. The actual rehabilitation of the Station happened in the 1980s, with repairs to the roof, restoring the floor, opening up the baggage handling room to the public, and conversion of the old waiting room into a shopping mall.

    The one thing that was good about the National Visitor Center project was the incomplete parking garage which was eventually finished in the 1980s during the rehabilitation of the Station.