Cincinnati Union Terminal

Cincinnati Union Terminal was a significant development in the history of Cincinnati transportation. One of the last great train stations built, Union Terminal has become one of the iconic symbols of the city and one of the most widely regarded examples of the Art Deco style.

Since its opening in 1933, Union Terminal has had a long and storied history, from the exciting times of World War II to being the home of three museums, an OMNIMAX® Theater and the Cincinnati History Library and Archives.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page or click on the links in the menu at the left to learn more about Cincinnati Union Terminal’s amazing history. For articles published by our Cincinnati History Library and Archives about Union Terminal, please visit this page.

Quick facts

  • Work on Union Terminal started in August 1929 and was completed on March 31, 1933.
  • Union Terminal cost $41 million, including the purchase of the ground and the readjustment of railroad facilities.
  • The Union Terminal complex, including the rail yards and supporting structures, takes up an area of 287 acres with 94 miles of track.
  • The Union Terminal complex originally was composed of 22 distinct buildings whose construction required 224,534 cubic yards of concrete, 100,500 square yards of paving, 8,250,000 bricks, and 45,421 net tons of steel.
  • The Cincinnati Union Terminal Company, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and the City of Cincinnati built the Western Hills Viaduct, which spans the rail yards, for a cost of $3.5 million.
  • The viaduct is 3,500 feet long of which 2,800 feet is double-deck construction.
  • The Rotunda's interior dome spans 180 feet, with a height of 106 feet.
  • The station was designed to accommodate 17,000 passengers and 216 trains a day.
  • Passenger train service left Union Terminal on October 28, 1972 and resumed on July 29, 1991 when Amtrak began operating at Union Terminal.
  • 15 local businesses were represented in the industrial mosaics in the train concourse:
    • Piano Manufacturing (Baldwin Piano Co.);
    • Radio Broadcasting (Crosley Corp.);
    • Roof manufacture (Philip Carey Co.);
    • Leather Production (American Oak Leather Co.);
    • Airplane Manufacturing (Aeronca Company);
    • Ink Making (Ault & Weiborg Corp.);
    • Laundry-machinery manufacture (American Laundry Machine);
    • Meat Packing (E. Kahn & Sons);
    • Pharmeceutical Production (William S. Merrill Co.);
    • Printing (U.S. Playing Card Co. and Champion Paper Co.);
    • Steel Manufacturing (American Rolling Mills [Armco]);
    • Rolled Steel  Manufacturing (Andrews Steel Company and Newport Rolling Mill);
    • Soap Making (Procter & Gamble Co.);
    • Machine Tools Manufacturing (Cincinnati Milling Machine).

 

Help Save Cincinnati’s Endangered Icons!

Two of Cincinnati’s most beloved architectural icons are also among the nation’s most endangered. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Union Terminal and Music Hall to its 2014 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places, in response to the significant repairs needed at both sites. Join us and our local partners in calling on the Hamilton County Commissioners to allow county voters to decide the future of these important places, as part of a comprehensive public-private funding strategy. Send your message
 

Union Terminal in the News

Archived chat about proposed Union Terminal/Music Hall tax
Cincinnati.com, June 24, 2014

Union Terminal, Music Hall listed as endangered
Cincinnati Enquirer, June 23, 2014

Economics Center releases economic impact study of Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center press release, June 23, 2014

Museum Center has impact of $114 million
University of Cincinnati Economics Center, June 23, 2014

What will it cost to fix our icons?
Cincinnati Enquirer, June 22, 2014

Value of iconic buildings hard to measure
Cincinnati Enquirer, June 22, 2014

Sales tax floated for Union Terminal, Music Hall fixes
Cincinnati Enquirer, June 11, 2014

Editorial: Preserving the glory of the nation's rail stations
Cincinnati Enquirer, March 27, 2014

Editorial: Iconic buildings a regional responsibility
Cincinnati Enquirer, Jan. 16, 2014

Ex-P&G chief to lead Music Hall, Union Terminal task force
Cincinnati Enquirer, Jan. 13, 2014

Former P&G CEO McDonald to chair Union Terminal/Music Hall task force
Cincinnati Business Courier, Jan. 13, 2014

Editorial: Should Union Terminal be saved?
Cincinnati Enquirer, Dec. 15, 2013

Committee says it's time to fix Union Terminal
Cincinnati Enquirer, Nov. 16, 2013

Should Museum Center wean itself off taxes?
Cincinnati Enquirer, Oct. 30, 2013

Union Terminal mosaics have "an indefinite life"
Cincinnati Enquirer, Aug. 8, 2013

County to back Music Hall, Union Terminal levy?
Cincinnati Enquirer, July 18, 2013

Save the murals
Ongoing Cincinnati Enquirer project

Hamilton County Tax Levy Review Committee Reports
2006-Present

Exhibits and Special Events

Order out of Chaos

Prior to the construction of Union Terminal, the passenger rail situation in Cincinnati was less than desirable. Learn about the various efforts from 1880 to the 1920s to remedy the situation.

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Temple to Transportation

When it opened in 1933, Cincinnati Union Terminal was widely hailed as an artistic, architectural, and organizational marvel.  Learn about the fascinating history of Union Terminal during its years as a passenger rail station.

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Reinvention

When rail traffic went into decline, the Cincinnati Union Terminal Company, and later the City of Cincinnati, looked for ways to preserve and reuse the building.  Read about some of the proposed alternatives, from offices to museums.

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Gateway to the City

Opening in 1990, Cincinnati Museum Center has made its home in historic Union Terminal.  Working with regional officials, we work to preserve and protect this Cincinnati landmark.  Learn about how Museum Center came to be here and our efforts to save this magnificent structure for current and future generations.

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The Glass Storybook and the Great Menagerie

Two artists made significant contributions to one of the largest art commissions of the inter-war period.  Learn about Pierre Bourdelle and Winold Reiss and the work they created at Union Terminal.

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Experience Union Terminal

Eager to learn more?  Visit this page for the many opportunities to experience this Cincinnati icon, from Tower A to the free Rotunda Tours.

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