Worcester Union Station

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Last week, I decided to spend a night in Burlington, Massachusetts. It really wasn’t much of a decision—I had a certificate for a free night at a hotel that was about to expire. I decided to visit Burlington because I have friends in the area that I hadn’t seen since I retired in 2019. On my way, I decided to check out Worcester Union Station. I had heard that it was once considered the most beautiful building in Massachusetts. When you visit the gallery, I think you might agree.

I have too many pictures to put in one post, so I’m going to switch between doors and architecture today, and then again, probably next week. I’m also going to spread the information I have about the station and the city of Worcester across two posts.

Worcester is indicated on the map. Massachusetts continues west from Springfield past Rt-7 and Pittsfield

Worcester isn’t in the center of Massachusetts, unless (like the state government is often accused) you ignore the portion of the state west of I-91 (US Interstate highway). Worcester is about halfway between Springfield and Boston. Worcester is also the western terminus of the commuter rail system operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) more widely known as the T. The T is one of the oldest public transit systems in the United States.

Union Station was completed in 1911 and replaced an earlier station that had been operating since 1875. The earlier station was known for its 212-foot-high clock tower and massive masonry arches over the train shed.

As I’ve mentioned before, railroad stations were called Union Stations because they served a number of unrelated railroads. Worcester Union station was built by the New York Central Railroad along the Boston and Albany Railroad line. The station also served the Providence and Worcester Railroad (which was acquired by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad or ‘New Haven’), the Norwich and Worcester Railroad (acquired by the New York and New England Railroad), the Worcester, Nashua and Rochester Railroad and the Boston, Barre and Gardner Railroad (which both became part of the Boston and Maine Railroad). This information comes courtesy of Wikipedia.

Passenger service remained available out of Worcester through the early 1960s. When rail service started to decline, and prior to the formation od AMTRAK, the service and the station started to deteriorate. From 1971 until the early 1990s, the station fell into a state of disrepair. In the 1990s, an effort was launched to restore the station. I hope you enjoy the photos I have for you today. Some are historical, some are mine, taken last week. I also hope you will take a few minutes to check out some of the posts from the other participants. I visit them all, and I always enjoy them.

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  1. You did it again; no sooner did I read the letters MBTA than I started to hear “he’ll never return, no, he’ll never return, etc.” in my head. That will be playing for a while. I love the photo of the stairs and the view looking down into the lobby. That architectural drawing is a wonder, and, for those of us partial to symmetry, very comforting!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I almost tagged the Kingston Trio in this post. If you buy a day/week/monthly pass on the MBTA, the card you get is a Charlie Card. I love a business that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I can only imagine the screams if they had extended one side of that building another window’s worth.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll be back next week with more photos from the interior, Suzette. I am so glad they restored this magnificent building.

      Yours, on the other hand, still needs to be finished – or, perhaps not. In either case, it’s a beauty.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Excellent photos, Dan. I enjoy the attention to detail intrinsic to those old train stations, not to mention they are more often than not, grand structures.
        I enjoyed your sharing and the history details. Thank you.

        And yes, maybe they might complete it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful building indeed. An architectural masterpiece. And I love the original building too with its clock tower! Wonderful arched doorways and windows. Ample lighting and clear signs to get you where you want to go.

    Dan, you must’ve been beside yourself to get to roam through this magnificent building and meet with old friends, all in one trip! Glad you had the opportunity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I crammed a lot into a day and a half, Ginger, but it was fun. Walking around the station was wonderful. I’d like to go back to Worcester to see some of the other buildings, but this one was a treat.


    • I am so glad they restored this station, Frank. It was built near the high point for rail travel and commerce, and they really went all out to put Worcester on the map. It’s hard competing with Boston, but they did a good job.


    • These were built at a time when the collective owners had a lot of money, and they had traveled to Europe, so they knew what we didn’t have by way of historic architecture. When they started building the railroads, this country was barely 100 years old. We had to catch up :-)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dan the photo with the two towers framing your reflection is extra cool.
    I admit that at first glance at the black and white image, the building seemed far too austere, just not appealing at all. Then I caught all the details, and some curves amid all the hard edges — it’s exquisite. Great choice for a feature. Looking forward to part-2. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Dan, these are great pictures. The old station was just as impressive as the newer one. Such a good thing it has been restored. I am late to my blog today as my husband had his follow up appointment with the doctor today. He is doing much better and can go back to work half day from 6 March.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a beautiful building this is–both inside and outside. I don’t know if people love coming into work here, but I think every time I walked up that stairwell, I’d have to stop and turn around just to admire the view. I’m looking forward to more photos next week.
    You had me laughing–and looking–at your comment ‘sorry for the photographer.’ I was so busy admiring those towers, I didn’t notice your reflection in the glass. Hi Dan! 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • I walked up to the second floor and I was amazed, Lois. I can’t imagine working in a place where the beauty would distract me that much. I’d never get anything done.

      I couldn’t figure out how to take those pictures without being in them.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The very first photo from 1875 certainly shows a slower era…horses and carts still in use. And yet you can appreciate the large cityscape in the background of the station. Interesting post today, Dan. Happy Thursday!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 1911… That is incredible. The restoration looks as if it honoured the past. It looks stunning. It is so nice to see that we take such pride in what we have done in the past. If only we could build like that now. How many houses will be standing in 120 years? Probably not many. Probably be torn down to make room for a road.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Dan, interesting info and great shots. All I knew of Worcester before was it is home to the College of the Holy Cross and their sports teams. Always nice to see restoration success stories like this one. I also agree there are some places that are so nice to work in you may never get anything accomplished.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven past Worcester on my way to somewhere in New England, but I was working and I couldn’t stop. I drove by Holy Cross Stadium so often that it was also the only thing I associated with the city. There are offices in the station. I’d have to go in early to make sure I made it to mine if I worked there.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My goodness! I have seen this beautiful train station so many times when driving by on Rt.290. Thank you so much for the photos and the history. A big thank you! I wonder if the current generation realizes how important the railway system and Union Stations were to everyday life. On top of that, the architecture reflected the pride and skill of many people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been to quite a few Union Stations, Natalie. Most stations that served multiple railroads adopted that name. Others were particular to the only or dominant railroad (like Pennsylvania Stations, of which there are a few around here).

      I loved you doors today – such fun!


  10. Great photos, Dan. It is great to see that these places are restored and in use today. The towers are quite unique architecture. I can see from your photos why the station was considered the most beautiful building.


  11. Hi Dan – what a fascinating place to have been able to wander around and understand a little more about the railway history. It’s a huge place … but then the USA is pretty large!! Cheers – happy weekend – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Nice to see pics from a different Union Station, Dan. You know I’m a veteran of the one in Washington, D.C., which is the same vintage as the Worcester one. There’s something innately appealing about these solid old buildings. Love to think about how many people have passed through them over the decades and wonder what their stories were.

    Liked by 1 person

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