Historic Structures

Union Station - Bus Terminal, Atlantic City New Jersey

Date added: September 21, 2018 Categories: New Jersey Train Station

Union Station was constructed as a result of the 1933 merger between the Pennsylvania Railroad controlled West Jersey & Seashore line and the Reading Railroad controlled Atlantic City Railroad. The merger was an attempt to control costs. The new line was called the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines.

The Pennsylvania Railroad had taken over control of the Camden & Atlantic Railroad in 1883. The Camden & Atlantic was the original railroad which was responsible for Atlantic City's very existence. A group of investors led by Dr. Jonathan Pitney, an Absecon physician, obtained a charter for a railroad from Camden to Absecon Island in 1852. The railroad began service and Atlantic City was incorporated in 1854.

After the Pennsylvania Railroad took control, the Camden & Atlantic continued to operate the line until 1896 when it merged with the South Jersey Railroad, another Pennsylvania Railroad-controlled line, to form the West Jersey & Seashore Railroad.

The Philadelphia and Atlantic City Railroad had constructed a narrow gauge line from Camden to Atlantic City in 1877. Ownership of the Philadelphia and Atlantic Railroad was taken over by the Reading Railroad System in 1883, and the roadbed was reconstructed as a standard gauge railroad. This Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, also known as the Atlantic City Railroad, competed with the Pennsylvania Railroad until the 1933 merger.

Union Station replaced the Reading Terminal, located one block south, bounded by Atlantic, Arctic, Arkansas and Missouri Avenues, and the Pennsylvania Railroad building, eight blocks away on South Carolina Avenue near Atlantic. Both older stations were demolished following construction of Union Station. The site of Reading Terminal was deeded to the city as a public park, officially named Columbus Plaza on 22 October 1936, and dedicated to public use 12 October 1937. The demolition of the Pennsylvania Railroad station and the mile of tracks leading to it eliminated twelve grade crossings and opened other streets which had been dead ends.

Union Station was also the terminal for the Shore Fast Line, the interurban railroad between Ocean City and Atlantic City, with trains leaving every thirty minutes in both directions throughout the day. A branch line served Ventnor and Longport. When Union Station was constructed, the Shore Fast Line's old station was changed to a Public Service bus terminal. The Shore Fast Line ceased operation in January, 1948.

A new, smaller railroad passenger station was built on Bacharach Boulevard in 1965, and Union Station was renovated by the Atlantic County Improvement Authority to serve as a bus terminal.