Union Terminal officially opened to the public on March 31, 1933. Help us celebrate its birthday by clicking on one of the below images to enlarge, right-clicking to download and then sharing on your social networks!
Photo by Jason Nix
Union Terminal History and 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 224,543 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.
- One of the last remaining grand-scale Art Deco-style railroad terminals, Union Terminal was designed by Paul Phillipe Cret and the architectural firm of Alfred Fellheimer and Steward Wagner.
- The Rotunda’s interior dome spans 180 feet, with a height of 106 feet. Adorning the walls are massive glass mosaic murals, designed by German born artist Winold Reiss.
- The two massive Rotunda murals are timelines: One of the history of the United States, from the Native American to the “modern” citizen; the other of Cincinnati, from settlement to the “modern” period of 1933.
- Fifteen local businesses were represented in the industrial mosaics in the train concourse: Baldwin Piano Company, Crosley Corporation, Philip Carey Company, American Oak Leather Company, Aeronca Company, Ault & Weiborg Corporation, American Laundry Machine, E. Kahn & Sons, William S. Merrill Company, U.S. Playing Card Company, Champion Paper Company, American Rolling Mills (Armco), Andrews Steel Company and Newport Rolling Mill, Procter & Gamble Company and Cincinnati Milling Machine.
- Of the 23 original murals, 14 were moved to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1974, eight remain in Union Terminal and one was destroyed.
- The station was designed to accommodate 17,000 passengers and 216 trains daily – 108 incoming and 108 outgoing.
- During World War II, the Union Terminal USO lounge was the first transit lounge in the country and one of the first USO lounges established, beginning operation on June 8, 1941.
- First among the 20 guidelines established for Union Terminal’s USO lounge was that “There is no color or racial discrimination in the service of the USO.”
- To more effectively cater to the wives and families of soldiers, the Union Terminal USO set up a nursery above the Union Terminal entrance where an average of six children used the nursery each day.
- During its busiest month, July 1945, the Union Terminal USO lounge served 81,153 soldiers.
- Over the course of World War II, the Union Terminal USO lounge served nearly 3 million servicemen and servicewomen, roughly a fifth of all World War II GIs.
- The last passenger train left Union Terminal on Saturday evening, October 28, 1972. Passenger service resumed when Amtrak began operating at Union Terminal on July 29, 1991.
- In 1973, the Super Friends cartoon series premiered with the Hall of Justice, modeled after Union Terminal, serving as headquarters for Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.
- On October 31, 1972, Union Terminal was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark on May 5, 1977, a list that contains fewer than 2,000 historic places.
- In 1980, Union Terminal reopened as a shopping mall, which later closed in 1984.
Union Terminal as home of Cincinnati Museum Center
- In 1990, Union Terminal reopened as the home of Cincinnati Museum Center, a national model for merging legacy institutions, a children’s museum and an OMNIMAX® theater – breathing life back into a National Historic Landmark.
- Cincinnati Museum Center houses three museums: Museum of Natural History & Science, Cincinnati History Museum and Duke Energy Children’s Museum, as well as the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater.
- The Museum of Natural History & Science was founded in 1818, the first of its kind west of the Alleghenies.
- The Cincinnati Historical Society was established in 1831 and was the first historical society in Ohio.
- The 3 million objects that make up Cincinnati Museum Center’s historical and scientific collections are housed at the state-of-the-art Geier Center Collections and Research Center and Cincinnati History Library and Archives.
- The Geier Center Collections and Research Center is a 70,000 square foot, $8 million facility that includes a DNA lab.
- Cincinnati Museum Center owns 14,000 acres of some of the most biologically diverse nature systems in the Midwest at the Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve in Adams County. In 2008, Cincinnati Museum Center built the $2.4 million Eulett Center at the Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve to host education programs, summer camps and university-based research.
- Since 1989, Cincinnati Museum Center’s Youth Programs has connected high school students from diverse backgrounds as museum interpreters, providing jobs, life-skills training, college preparation and a sense of family and self-confidence. More than 1,500 students have participated. Students in this program celebrate a 100% high school graduation rate, 99% college enrollment rate and 90% scholarship recipient rate.
- Union Terminal has welcomed several Presidents, Vice Presidents and presidential candidates over the past 80 years.