New York City’s nightmarish Penn Station is undergoing massive renovations to restore it to something close to its original grandeur. Central Station’s original beauty, however, is still visible.
It does more than chauffeur commuters. Its architecture make you want to wander its halls.
Take a look at the six most beautiful stops (past and present) on our railways, which started to blossom toward the end of the 19th century.
Completed in 1913, the New York City station features elaborate moldings and beautiful marble. When commuters look up, they see a spectacular 25,000-square-foot mural of constellations with gold-leaf stars. At its center, there's the iconic gilded clock.
When it was built, Grand Central represented innovation in transit hub design, with features like an incorporation of luggage-friendly ramps instead than stairs.
When the Cincinnati Union Terminal was completed in 1933, it was the largest rotunda in the Western Hemisphere.
The Art Deco-style station features a glass entrance and a fountain out front. Inside, four artists collaborated on massive murals that chronicle stories in American history. The German-American painter Winold Reiss produced 23 glass-tile mosaic panels that live on as impressive displays of public art.
This glamorous train station almost wasn't built. In 1926, Los Angeles voters had the choice between the construction of a network of elevated railways or a much smaller Union Station.
The election took on a racial tone that reflected prejudice against the wave of Chinese immigrants, since the station would be in the heart of LA's original Chinatown. A majority chose Union Station, however, and it was completed in 1939.
Today, Union Station is the largest train terminal on the West Coast, with nearly 110,000 people passing through it each day. Some of its highlights include mosaic floors and gold chandeliers that hang from wooden beams.
The transit hub plans to finish upgrades by December 2016, including a faster rail, more shops and restaurants, and parking for bikers.
As early as the mid-1880s, Denver saw a tremendous spike in train travel during a time of westward expansion.
The city's Union Station survived a giant fire, a few floods, and America's shift toward air travel as plane tickets became cheaper beginning in the '60s.
The Station's most impressive architectural feature is its al fresco platform with a curved ceiling. In the past few years, the city has been slowly upgrading the station, with added pedestrian walkways and a bridge that will connect the station with the nearby mall and park.
Serving commuters since 1901, this red brick train station was inspired by French Renaissance architecture. Its large cast iron train shed, its domed clock tower, and tiled roof was emblematic of the station's French architectural style, of which relatively few examples remain in the US.
This version of Penn Station now only lives in the archives.
When it was built in 1910, Penn was a majestic transit hub and was the fourth largest building in the world. It was later destroyed in the '60s, rebuilt as a bleak subterranean station, and is now one of America's most vile train stations.
But Penn will soon get a much-need makeover that will apparently be as remarkable as its predecessor.
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