The Indianapolis Union Station was the first union station in the world, opening on September 20, 1853, by the Indianapolis Union Railway within the Wholesale District of Indianapolis, Indiana. A bigger station was constructed in 1888. In 1900 over 200 trains a day were serviced, forcing the station to have an elevated platform so as not to interfere with regular street traffic. Its architectural style was (Richardsonian) Romanesque Revival, made of granite and brick. It had a large street-level iron trainshed. It was second only to Chicago's Union Station as a Midwest railroad hub. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 14 1982.
In 1979 the facility was converted from railroad station to festival marketplace by Woollen Molzan & Partners, opening in 1986. Union Station was a collection of restaurants, nightclubs, and specialty stores; which included an NBC Store and model train store. The third floor featured one of the first food courts. Throughout the facility there were several statues of individuals who might have been seen in the railroad station in older years. In 1997 the mall era closed as Circle Centre drew off all the customers Union Station had.
In 2002, 21st Century Charter School was started within the facility, and the Crowne Plaza Hotel took up much of the remaining space of the station, with thirteen hotel rooms being within old Pullman cars. Other current, 2006, tenants are: Bands of America, Consulate of Mexico, Indiana Museum of African American History, Japan-America Society of America, and Pacers academy, with many of the internal directories being in Spanish as well as English, reflecting the demographic changes in Indianapolis. The building is also used for special events, such as a Magic: The Gathering prerelease.
As to the actual train service in today's Indianapolis, it is very limited. Several Amtrak trains a week to Washington, DC and Chicago (Cardinal and Hoosier State) stop at the small train station. The Greyhound bus station is on the next block from Union Station. As of 2006, there is no commuter rail service in Indianapolis.
- Rethinking Adaptive Reuse, or, How Not to Save a Great Urban Terminal by Erik Ledbetter
- Indiana Historical Society page on Union Station
- Indianapolis, a National Park Service Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary