1. Home
  2.  ›
  3. Stations
  4.  ›
  5. Dallas Union Station

Dallas Union Station

Published: November 8, 2023

By: Adam Burns

Dallas Union Station, also known as Dallas Union Terminal and Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station, is a historic train station located in Dallas, Texas.

It serves as a major hub for the city's public transportation system, including Amtrak, Trinity Railway Express, and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light rail system.

The station, which opened in 1916, is noted for its Beaux-Arts architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photos

23842973578235239627868920609277.jpgThis historic view of Dallas Union Station features Santa Fe's train #116, the Dallas section of the "Texas Chief," departing the terminal on March 25, 1967. Roger Puta photo.

Construction and Cost

Dallas Union Station, an iconic architectural marvel and a key railway terminal, has stitched a fascinating narrative into the fabric of Dallas, Texas. It's an astounding repository of history, function, and design.

The architectural brilliance of the station has its roots in Jarvis Hunt's innovative design. Famous for his creation of urban landmarks across America, Hunt excelled in his role as a visionary architect, blending aesthetics and practicality to conceive the grand Union Station.

This historical landmark officially opened its doors to an intrigued public on October 14, 1916. With great fanfare, the residents of Dallas observed the station bustling into full operation, marking the inception of a new chapter in their city's transport story.

The Dallas Union Station was constructed at a cost of $1.3 million, a significant financial undertaking reflective of its monumental scale and pivotal role in transportation.

Architectural Style

The station is an elegant embodiment of the Beaux-Arts architectural style. It was designed with a three-story main waiting room adorned with ornamental plaster ceilings, a careful precision that commands admiration for its beauty and historical significance.

The locally quarried red Texas granite and terracotta trim—or 'architectural ceramics'—infuse the station with a majestic aura. It is a testament to the grandeur of material quality and construction techniques of its time.

Located at 400 South Houston Street in the heart of Dallas, Texas, Union Station stands majestically amidst a bustling cityscape. It serves as a gateway connecting Dallas to numerous destinations, making it an integral part of Dallas' city plan.

Dallas Union Station initially boasted 7 tracks and 2 island platforms, accommodating the efficient movement of passengers and trains. It was an impressive setup that facilitated smooth conduct of operations.

Peak Years

At its zenith in the 1940s, the station facilitated the movement of an estimated 80 trains daily, serving a multitude of passengers. Operating at high capacity, it played a pivotal role in the bustling railway traffic of the time.

All of the major Class 1 railroads serving the heart of Texas at that time served Dallas Union Station.  These included the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (Santa Fe); St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt), Fort Worth & Denver (Burlington); Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific (Rock Island); St. Louis-San Francisco (Frisco), Missouri–Kansas–Texas (Katy), Southern Pacific and Texas & Pacific (Missouri Pacific).

Some of the notable trains one could witness from the station platforms included the Texas Zephyr, Texas Eagle, Texas Chief, Texas Rocket, and Texas Special.

Amtrak Era

Union Station transitioned into Amtrak's control on March 14, 1974, marking a shift in the station's operations and management. This change broadened its reach as it catered to a wider network of Amtrak trains.

Currently, Dallas Union Station serves as a bustling service point for three prominent Amtrak trains—the Texas Eagle, Heartland Flyer, and Sunset Limited. These trains effectively connect Dallas with numerous states across America.

Dallas Union Station underwent major renovation phases in 1954 and then again in 2008. These refurbishment efforts ensured its preservation and adaptation to modern-day requirements, a testament to Dallas's commitment to safeguard its cultural icons.

It plays a significant role in Dallas' urban transit. Union Station is currently utilized by the Trinity Railway Express, connecting the bustling cities of Dallas and Fort Worth. It's an integral nexus of the train's daily schedule.

Simultaneously, it also serves as a crucial hub for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Light Rail lines, offering comprehensive local transit solutions to Dallas' residents and visitors.

Today

In fiscal year 2022, Dallas Union Station witnessed nearly 135,000 passengers making use of its services—an astounding figure showcasing its pivotal role in the city's transportation infrastructure.

Aesthetically, the Beaux-Art inspired beacon room and its adjoining connected lobbies capture the visitor's imagination with their grandeur. The intricate detailing mirrors the architect Jarvis Hunt’s determination to blend function with form.

The Union Station boasts a picturesque patio garden at its rear, a calm oasis amidst the bustle. This picturesque space confers a unique outdoor serenity for course of natural sunlight to its main hall.

Despite being a century old, it's astounding how Union Station has remained vital, catering to the dynamic demands of transportation in Dallas. Balancing history and modernity, it continually evolves, echoing the resilience of Dallas itself.

The station's timeless nature also extends into its memorable appearances in films and local broadcasts, capturing multiple eras of the city's life. Each frame preserving the Union Station adds an intriguing layer to Dallas' dynamic cultural narrative.

Moreover, the Union Station’s captivating faҫade and interiors are often used for sophisticated gatherings and events, its grandeur adding a special touch of glamour.

Legacy

Over the past century, Union Station has been an essential part of transportation history not just in Dallas, but in the entire United States. Its contribution is not restricted to the transport sector alone—it has extended into realms of architecture, history, and urban development.

This station’s impact has been profound. Even as new transportation modes emerge and change the city's landscape, Union Station remains relevant. Its historic charm still allures passengers and tourists alike.

Even amidst its bustling operations, the Union Station stands as a silent observer of Dallas' evolution and growth. Encapsulating architectural allure, historical narratives, and a forward-thinking spirit, it echoes Dallas's determined ambition and progress.

Part of the station’s enduring relevance, beyond embracing its historical journey, lies in its readiness to adapt to modern needs. From originally serving multiple railroad companies to now facilitating DART’s Light Rail and the Trinity Railway Express, its agility is exemplary.

Whenever one mentions Dallas, Union Station inevitably surfaces in the conversation. Being pivotal to the city's transportation network, it's etched deeply into the collective consciousness of Dallas' residents.

Understanding Union Station exposes a deeper knowledge of Dallas—its past, its progress, and its potential. It serves as an instrumental case study for urban planning, architectural history, and railway transportation evolution.

Union Station, alongside its functional capacity, also serves as a catalyst fueling the economic vitality of this bustling city. It's an essential component of Dallas’s landscape, contributing to its vibrancy and economic dynamism.

Despite the significant changes that Dallas has undergone, Union Station stands proud, merging seamlessly with the city's skyline and operating with the same dedication to serve as it did over a century ago.

Union Station, with the passage of time, stands a guardian of history and a beacon of modernity. It bridges different eras, making it an embodiment of the city’s courage to change while treasuring its past.

From freight trains to passenger trains, and now the light rails, Dallas Union Station's journey has been iconic. It is a symbol of the city’s enduring transport evolution and remains a stalwart figure in Dallas' cityscape.


Dallas Union Station reassures us that architecturally significant and historical spaces can be adapted and preserved without sacrificing their defining characteristics or their practical usage.

There is a certain romance associated with the station. The soft echoes of departing trains, the faint hum of eager passengers, and the station's historic charm all contribute to a nostalgic sentimentality intrinsic to Dallas Union Station.

In conclusion, Dallas Union Station is not just a mode of transportation—it's an embodiment of a city’s progress, a testament to its architectural prowess, and a keeper of its historical accounts. Like a time capsule, it connects the past to the present and bridges to the future, cementing its status as an indelible landmark of Dallas, Texas.

Recent Articles

  1. Santa Fe-Southern Pacific: The Failed Mega Railroad

    Jul 16, 24 12:42 AM

    1i27316248189126417246812798796.jpg
    The so-called Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corporation was to be the merging of the West's two largest railroad in the 1980s. The ICC would ultimately deny the union in 1986.

    Read More

  2. Harlem Transfer Company: An NYC Terminal System

    Jul 16, 24 12:25 AM

    7u02030925774683468u248386309709809.jpg
    The Harlem Transfer Company was one of New York's many so-called pocket terminals, serving the Harlem River waterfront. Operations ceased in 1968.

    Read More

  3. The "Quad Cities Rocket": Chicago - Rock Island

    Jul 15, 24 04:35 PM

    2030958273572672786892379078.jpg
    The "Quad Cities Rocket" was Rock Island's late era service between Chicago-Rock Island, operating from 1971-1978.

    Read More