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Northeast in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Delaware Avenue & Columbus Circle, NE
Historical Information

— UNION STATION – Architecture by Daniel Burnham 1908 —
 
Delaware Avenue and Columbus Circle Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, January 19, 2008
1. Delaware Avenue and Columbus Circle Marker
 
Inscription. Designed in the Beaux-Arts style, this was the world's largest train station when it opened - the station and terminal zone originally covered approximately 200 acres and included 75 miles of tracks. For over half a century its coffered ceilings and granite walls provided an impressive “gateway” for travelers to the nation’s capital; among them were kings, queens, and presidents as well as millions of Americans and visitors from around the world.

With the growth of air travel, the station fell increasingly into disuse. A mid-1970’s attempt to revitalize it as a “National Visitor Center” failed. The building was closed in 1981. Later that year the Congress enacted the Union Station Redevelopment Act, and the 1985 - 1988 renovation project restored the building’s grandeur. Today, in addition to serving Amtrak, MARC and Metrorail travellers, the station houses over a hundred shops and restaurants and hosts exhibitions and international cultural events.

In front of the entrance to the station stands a 45-foot-tall marble fountain monument to Christopher
 
Other Side of Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, January 19, 2008
2. Other Side of Marker
 
Columbus, topped by a 15-foot figure of the explorer. It was created by sculptor Lorado Taft, who worked with Daniel Burnham on its design.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Pennsylvania Railroad marker series.
 
Location. 38° 53.746′ N, 77° 0.407′ W. Marker is in Northeast, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Columbus Circle near Delaware Avenue. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 50 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington DC 20002, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Christopher Columbus (within shouting distance of this marker); “The President’s Trees” (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Freedom Bell (about 300 feet away); "All Aboard" (about 700 feet away); Gateway to The Nation's Capital (about 700 feet away); Swampoodle (approx. 0.2 miles away); Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II (approx. 0.2 miles away); Acacia Life Insurance Building – 1936 (approx. ¼ mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Northeast.
 
Fountain And Statue Of Columbus Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, January 19, 2008
3. Fountain And Statue Of Columbus
Union Station is in the background.
 

 
Regarding Delaware Avenue & Columbus Circle, NE.
1. Books about Union Station include;

Highsmith, Carol M. and Landphair, Ted (1988) Union Station A Decorative History of Washington's Grand Terminal. (Chelsea Publishing, Washington)

Highsmith, Carol M. and Landphair, Ted (1998) Union Station A History of Washington's Grand Terminal (Union Station Venture, Washington)

2. Additional background

Washington's Union Station replaced two railroad terminals that had been built in the District of Columbia. One was Sixth Street Station, which was operated by the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad (a predecessor of the Pennsylvania Railroad). The other was New Jersey Avenue Station, which was operated by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

There were several reasons to build this grand structure. One was to enhance presidential security. James Garfield had been assassinated in one of the nearby stations. There is (or was) a room in Union Station whose sole function was to give Presidents a secure place to wait for trains. Another reason was the growing
 
West Wing of Union Station Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, January 19, 2008
4. West Wing of Union Station
 
global power and influence of the United States. Congress decided that the nation's capital needed a railroad terminal that would serve as a "Palace To Transportation;" that is, a building worthy of an international city. A third reason was that Congress wanted to transform the National Mall from a mishmash of swamp, canals and railroad tracks into a "Monumental Core" for the nation's capital. Finally, the existing stations were too small for the volume of traffic generated by the railroads. The B&O's New Jersey Avenue station hosted more than 90 trains a day in the 1890's and had only 4 tracks for all of those trains.

Washington's Union Station was for a time owned and operated by a corporation called The Washington Terminal Company. This corporation was jointly owned by both the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Amtrak eventually became the owner of the Washington Terminal Company and merged with it. The Washington Terminal Company had several unique and interesting locomotives. One was an electrically powered MP-54 "Owl Car." The MP-54 was used to shuttle employees between the station and nearby Ivy
 
East Wing of Union Station Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, January 19, 2008
5. East Wing of Union Station
 
City locomotive maintenance facility. Another was the switching locomotive nicknamed the "Quarter Horse." This switcher was built by a company called FAUR and is headquartered in Bucharest, Romania. Both the "Owl Car" and the "Quarter Horse" were retired years ago.

Union Station has hosted several demonstrations of special modern railroad equipment. One of them was the LRC (Light Rapid Comfortable) train, which this intrepid editor rode between Union Station DC and Odenton MD. Another was the JetTrain turbine locomotive in October 2002. The prototype was built by Bombardier and is capable of 150 miles per hour. JetTrain was proposed to be an element of the Florida Overland Express high speed rail plan. Funding for the system was denied by a referendum in 2004.
 
Also see . . .
1. Union Station: A Decorative History of Washington’s Grand Terminal. 1988 book by Carol Highsmith and Ted Landphair on Amazon.com. (Submitted on April 4, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.) 

2. Union Station: A history of Washington’s grand terminal. 2nd Edition. 1998 book by Carol M. Highsmith on Amazon.com (Submitted on April 4, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. W. Graham Claytor, Jr.
Transcript of text on plaque shown on photo No. 9.
W. Graham Claytor, Jr., President and Chairman, National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), July 3, 1982–December 6, 1993.

Following a long and distinguished career in public service and private industry, W. Graham Claytor, Jr. brought to Amtrak a life-log love of passenger trains and a dedication to the quality of rail passenger service. Among his most significant achievements at Amtrak was his leadership in the formation of a public-private partnership to restore and redevelop Washington Union Station.

In recognition of this service to intercity and commuter rail passengers, the community and its visitors; and in recognition of his nearly sixty years of public service, spanning eleven U.S. presidencies, and his many contributions to the American people through a remarkable career of business, military and government service, on January 26, 1994, by resolution of the Board of Directors of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, the Washington Union Station train concourse was named the “Claytor Concourse.”
 
Circa 1927 Postcard “New Union Station, Washington, D. C.” Photo, Click for full size
J. J. Prats Postcard Collection
6. Circa 1927 Postcard “New Union Station, Washington, D. C.”
Caption on back “The new Union Station was built by the U. S. Government and the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The cost of the land, building and terminal improvements was $18,000,000. The structure is the finest railway station in the world. The building, of white granite, is 760 feet in length and 343 feet in width.” Published by the Union News Company.
 
    — Submitted June 29, 2008.

2. A. Philip Randolph
Transcript of text on plaque affixed to the statue of A. Philip Randolph shown in Photo No. 12.
A. Philip Randolph, April 15, 1889–May 16, 1979.

Dedicated by the AFL-CIO to the memory of A. Philip Randolph, America’s foremost black labor and civil rights leader. The founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, he conceived and initiated the 1963 March on Washington for jobs and freedom.

“At the banquet table of nature there are no reserved seats. You get what you can take, and you keep what you can hold. If you can’t take anything, you won’t get anything, and if you can’t hold anything, you won’t keep anything. And you can’t take anything without organization.” —A Philip Randolph
    — Submitted June 29, 2008.
 
Columbus Memorial Fountain in Front of the Union Station, Washington, D. C. Photo, Click for full size
J. J. Prats Postcard Collection
7. Columbus Memorial Fountain in Front of the Union Station, Washington, D. C.
Circa 1917 postcard has this caption on back: “The Columbus Memorial Fountain, Washington, D. C., is situated on the Union Station Plaza. It is semi-circular in form, seventy feet wide and sixty-five feet deep. A shaft forty-five feet high surmounted by a globe borne by four eagles form the background for the statue of Columbus, who is represented as standing on the prow of a ship, the figure-head of which is a beautiful female figure typifying ‘The Spirit of Discovery.’ On the left of the shaft is the figure of an Indian portraying the New World, and on the right side of the figure of a patriarchal Caucasian representing the Old World, while the rear of the shaft carries a medallion representing Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. The extreme ends are flanked by two enormous lions. Dedicated June the 8th 1912. Sculptor, Lorado Taft; Cost 100,000.” Published by W. B. Garrison, Inc., Washington D.C.
 
 
Station Entrance, flag -draped for Independence Day Photo, Click for full size
By Richard E. Miller, June 2008
8. Station Entrance, flag -draped for Independence Day
 
 
W. Graham Claytor, Jr. Photo, Click for full size
By Richard E. Miller, June 2008
9. W. Graham Claytor, Jr.
Interior marker plaque dedicating the Amtrak concourse to the corporation's president and chairman for his leadership in restoring and renovating Union Station, 1994.
 
 
Amtrak Employees Who Gave Their Lives Photo, Click for full size
By Richard E. Miller, June 2008
10. Amtrak Employees Who Gave Their Lives
Memorial Plaque on Claytor Concourse in Union Station.
 
 
Tribute to A. Philip Randolph Photo, Click for full size
By Richard E. Miller, June 2008
11. Tribute to A. Philip Randolph
Affixed to statue shown in Photo 10. Located in the Claytor Concourse, Union Station.
 
 
A. Philip Randolph, founder, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Photo, Click for full size
By Richard E. Miller, June 2008
12. A. Philip Randolph, founder, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
Memorial sculpture by Ed Dwight (1990), Claytor Concourse, Union Station.
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on January 22, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. This page has been viewed 3,499 times since then. Last updated on June 20, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on January 22, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.   6, 7. submitted on September 28, 2008, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   8, 9, 10, 11, 12. submitted on June 28, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.
 
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