When one hears the word “union” the thought of coming together springs to mind and that is exactly what Union Station did. It was one of the many depots that connected the city of Dayton, Ohio with the rest of the country before highway systems even existed. During the time of its existence it was part of a movement that helped shape a nation to become one of the top powers of the world. Union Station was visited by many and helped change the face of a city.
In 1851 Dayton heard its first train whistle, after the first Ohio railroad company, Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad Company, completed a line from Springfield to Dayton. Five years later the first Dayton train terminal was opened. There were public conveyances between the station and the three hotels of Dayton that existed at the time. As the age of the trains progressed and the population of the Gem City was raising the people of the city decided that the city needed more than just an arrival and departure building.
Two blocks, at Sixth and Ludlow, down from the original terminal station, dubbed the “car shed” (Delaney), the first passenger station was built in 1900. The Italian Renaissance styled building, whose architects were of the firm Elzner and Anderson from Cincinnati, Ohio, showed prominence within the city greatly. The cost of the building varied by source, but the highest reported cost was eight hundred thousand dollars, with the installing of the clock in the tower to only cost one thousand dollars. The clock tower could be seen blocks away, being a piece of the Dayton city skyline. The dedication of the building was held in July 1900 as it “attracted thousands of well-wishers and spectators” (Barnhart). Union Station “formally opened Saturday, July 21, 1900” (Union Station Card). It soon became the building that everyone knew as the Union Station Depot.
During the 1913 Dayton flood the Union Station also fell under the victim of the rushing flood waters sweeping throughout the city. “At the passenger railway station depot, floodwaters had reached 10 to 12 feet deep” (Bell). The building became the refuge of those who were trapped there. When the waters receded Union Station’s “interior was a scene of devastation, its platforms covered with a deep, viscous ooze” (Bell). To prevent looting a member of the Ohio National Guard was posted outside of the building, as it was also done it everywhere else in Dayton’s Business District.
In June 1930 the colonnade which marked “the approach to the Union Station from Ludlow Street” (Colonnade Is to Be Wrecked) was reported to be on the chopping block to be removed because it would cause interference with the elevated track work. The removing of the colonnade allowed for the widening of the road for automobile traffic. After their completion “the first train over the new overhead tracks was on December 15, 1930” (Dayton A History In Photographs). The tracks at street level remained in use until September 1, 1931 and were...