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Timeline

Union Station location pre-2014

1903

The second great Kansas City flood consumes the railroad station (Union Depot) in the city's West Bottoms district. Rail executives decide to build a new train station on higher ground and in a more central location.

1906

Twelve railroad companies unite to form the Kansas City Terminal Railroad (KCTR). Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt is selected to design the new station.

Union Station under construction

1911

Construction begins on the massive building. Union Station is designed in the beaux-arts architectural style popular in the United States and France in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

October 30, 1914

Union Station opens to the public. Just after midnight on the morning of Nov. 1, the first train, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Flyer, arrives at Union Station. The station cost nearly $6 million and was part of a $50 million investment by KCTR that also included track additions, switching towers, viaducts and bridges.

1917

Rail traffic peaks during WWI-with 79,368 trains passing through the Station, including 271 trains in one day.

1921

All five World War I allied commanders arrive by train at Union Station and meet together for groundbreaking ceremonies for the Liberty Memorial. Located across the street from Union Station, the Liberty Memorial is a monument dedicated to the men and women who served and died in World War I. The memorial was officially dedicated in 1926. 

June 17, 1933

The Union Station Massacre marks one of the most infamous dates in Kansas City history. Convicted mobster Frank Nash, under escort by a team of FBI agents and police officers was shot and killed outside the Station during a shootout. Four law enforcement officers were also killed. There are marks on the front of the building that for years were claimed as bullet holes from the shooting, but tests by Kansas City, Mo. police recently showed the marks could not have come from bullets. However, the myth and the mystery of the incident live on. There were various theories that other mobsters had committed the crime, but the only man ever charged was Adam Richetti who died in Missouri's gas chamber. As result of the massacre, Congress strengthened the power of the FBI.

A crowded Union Station hall

1945

Passenger traffic hits a record 678,363 travelers with a significant number of America's armed forces personnel passing through Union Station on their way home from World War II.

1950-1970

Passenger rail traffic starts to decline as the airline industry grows.

1968

The Fred Harvey Company operations -- including the Westport Room restaurant and retail shops -- close.

1972

Union Station receives federal designation as a protected structure and is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1973

Passenger traffic drops to only 32,842 for the year. Only six trains a day pass through the Station.

1974

Kansas City approves a development contract with Trizec, a Canadian redevelopment firm, to develop the Station and surrounding property.

1979-1986

Trizec constructs two office buildings, One and Two Pershing Square, on the property around the Station but is unable to make improvements to the building.

1983

The Station closes except for Amtrak's inflatable bubble inside the Grand Hall and the Lobster Pot restaurant. Amtrak leaves in 1985 and the Lobster Pot closes in 1989.

1988

The city of Kansas City, Mo. initiates legal action against the redevelopment company for failing to redevelop the Station.

1994

The City and Trizec agree to settle their six-year lawsuit. A new not-for-profit corporation, Union Station Assistance Corporation (USAC), is established to own the Station.

1996

Voters in Jackson, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson County in Kansas approve a one-eighth of a cent bi-state sales tax to restore and redevelop Union Station and create a science museum. The tax raised $118 million toward the total $250 million project. The remaining money was raised through private donations and federal funds. The passage of the bi-state tax is thought to be the first of its kind in the history of the United States.

Union Station on Re-Opening Day, 1999

November 10, 1999

Union Station opens to the public once again. The building, restored to its former glory, now includes shops, restaurants, theaters, exhibits and Science City, an interactive science center.

December 2002

Amtrak train service returns to Union Station.

September 2005

The KC Rail Experience, a permanent exhibit celebrating both the history of the railroads and Union Station, opens.

2006 

Kansas City Southern moves a former train bridge to connect Union Station with the Freight House District that soon evolves into the Crossroads Arts District, also connecting to the burgeoning Downtown development.

2008 

A beautiful 20,000-square-foot exhibit gallery is built on lower level to host the world-class traveling exhibits, such as Bodies Revealed, Dinosaurs Unearthed, Diana, and Titanic. Revenues from these traveling exhibits add additional sources of funding that help stabilize the Station.

2010 

Union Station’s board and staff recognize that leasing office space inside the Station is another important way to stabilize the Station’s sustainability. Within months, several key civic organizations embrace Union Station as their new home – including the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Kansas City Area Development Council, Kansas City Area Life Sciences, Kansas City Election Board and UMKC professional development.

2011 

Science City begins and upgrading plan when Burns & McDonnell invests $1.25 million in new exhibits and sponsors The Battle of the Brains contest to get area schools involved in designing another new exhibit.

Burns & McDonnell and Science City launched the inaugural Battle of the Brains contest. This first year, 560 entries came from 128 schools in 35 area school districts.  Over 2,500 students – focused on big STEM topics – competed to have their ideas come to life as the next new interactive exhibit at Kansas City’s Science Center – Science City at Union Station.  Battle of the Brains has grown and flourished in subsequent years and now supports the ongoing  re-imagination of our world-class center.

2012 

Science City welcomes the new Science on a Sphere exhibit featuring a giant hanging sphere that projects images across the sphere and shares programs in earth science, planetary science, nature and weather patterns and other science topics.

In June of 2012, Union Station offered a lasting tribute to Mr. Michael R. Haverty – past Chairman of the Union Station Board and Chairman of Kansas City Southern Railway -- by renaming the pedestrian bridge that links Union Station with the Freight House and Crossroads Districts. The bridge is now known as the Michael R. Haverty Freight House Bridge.

2013 

Science City opens The Science of Energy, which was the winning entry from the Battle of the Brains competition, and was designed by students from Olathe North High School.

March 2013 the fully renovated Regnier Extreme Screen Theatre re-opens and begins offering nature films and first-run movies for the first time. The theatre is wired with a 1 gig connectivity, offering the opportunity for live streams on the large screen for special presentations and conferences.

Union Station today

Related Interests

Union Station Renovations