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All Aboard: Train Station Back in Business

After years of uncertainty regarding the fate of Union Station, the train depot was finally celebrated in 1988 with a grand reopening extravaganza.

Originally built in 1907, the station station underwent many changes throughout the 20th century.

A runaway train crashed into the main area of the station in 1953 prior to President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration, and major work was done to repair the damage. In the late 1960s, with rail travel at a low and airplane travel surging, plans were made to transform the station into a national visitor’s center in preparation for the bicentennial. But those plans fell through in 1978 after two years of inactivity at the station. The last straw came in the mid-1980s, when fungus from rain damage was found growing inside the facility.

It was then that Congress decided to redevelop the destination, with plans for it to reopen later that decade.

According to Roll Call reports, the three-year renovations finished in 1988 cost more than $160 million. The station was feted in September in grand fashion; the celebration featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, parades, gala dinners, concerts, a balloon drop, fireworks and more.[IMGCAP(1)]

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