The year is 1931 and people need an easy way to move about that’s faster than walking and easier and cheaper than owning a car. What moves at high speeds and transports large amounts of people at a relatively low cost? Is it a bicycle? No! Is it a skateboard? No! Is it an airplane? No! It’s a railroad!
Originally a railroad station, Union Terminal was completed and open for service in 1933. Before the terminal, there were 5 small, cramped stations throughout the city connecting to 7 railroads. Union Terminal provided a large, spacious alternative to these.
Originally referred to as a city within a city because not only was it a place to hop aboard 100 tons of steaming metal, but it held a men’s and women’s clothing store, a bookstore, a toy store, food stores, news stands, and a barber shop. Everything one could possibly need all in a convenient location!
The 180 foot wide and 106 foot tall half-dome was the second largest in the world, right behind the Sidney Opera House. Unfortunately, the City built this right around the Depression, so train travel was on the decline and the terminal wasn’t a huge success for a while. In 1972, Union Terminal closed down its train travel for good due to the huge decrease in railway transportation.
Fast forward 20 years to 1990 where travel by locomotive is nearly comical, and the Cincinnati Museum Canter was born out of the terminal. It now holds several shops, an Omnimax theater, Duke Energy’s Children Museum, Cincinnati History Museum, and a Museum of Natural History and Science. The Museums are almost like a time capsule to those in Cincinnati, taking visitor’s back to simpler times when the main concern wasn’t what was going to be on TV tonight.
Although it may have seemed like a bust in the past, Union Terminal is now one of the most iconic structures to Cincinnatians.