Historic Structures

Union Station, Utica New York

Date added: June 3, 2022 Categories: New York Train Station

Union Station was opened to the public May 24, 1914, and was built at a cost of about $1,000,000. The architectural firm of Stem and Fellheimer of New York City designed the building. That firm was successor to the firm of Reed and Stem which designed Grand Central Station in New York City and participated in the planning of more than 100 railroad stations and terminals throughout the United States.

From its earliest beginnings prior to 1800, Utica had been a transportation center, being located at the fording point in the Mohawk River, on the junction of principal Indian trails, turnpike routes and on the Erie and Chenango Canals. The first railroad to central New York ran from Utica to Schenectady in 1833. Throughout the remainder of the 19th century, Utica derived extensive economic benefits from its position as a railroading center.

When Union Station was built on the site of an earlier railroad station, officials anticipated that Utica would become a divisional headquarters of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. That plan was abandoned, however, and Union Station never realized its full potential as a transportation terminal. Currently, Amtrak uses the building for a passenger depot, and the restaurant is in operation.

As an example of a civic building in the Beaux Arts tradition, this station is noteworthy. The grand waiting room with its huge marble columns have long attracted attention from Utica's natives as well as visitors. For many years the restaurant with its curved marble counter was a noted local eating place.

Building Description

Union station is located in downtown Utica on the flats which lie south of the Mohawk River. It is a monumental building, rectangular in plan with thirteen bays across the facade and fifteen across the side elevations. The architecture was inspired by classical models; hence, its bilateral symmetry. It is three stories in height.

The walls of the first story are faced with large granite blocks while the second and third floors are faced with grey brick. Details such as the capitals and tops of the pilasters are executed in limestone. A prominent cornice casts a deep shadow at the roof line and a brick parapet encircles the building.

Each bay consists of a tall arched window on the first story, a square headed window with bracketed sill and prominent cornice on brackets on the second story and a simple square headed window on the third story. At the second story pilasters frame each bay and an extra pilaster accentuates each corner of the structure.

The central five bays of the facade have been given a more elaborate architectural treatment than the rest of the building. This central block protrudes from the mass of the building and has a higher parapet. At the second story paired columns in high relief frame windows accentuated with triangular or segmented pediments. Each of these windows has a small balcony. The parapet of this central section incorporates eagles and a clock embellished with eagles in full relief.

The interior of Union Station is as imposing as the exterior. Above the center of the main waiting room rises a barrel vault which is thirty-five feet from the floor at its peak. The entire ceiling of the waiting roan, including the vault, is decorated with coffers which were richly gilded when the building was well maintained. The vault is supported on either side by an impressive row of concrete and steel columns faced with Botticino marble. The floor of the waiting room is terrazzo. Grey Vermont marble and grey Knoxville marble are used on the interior wall facings and ticket windows.

A restaurant on the west end of the building has marble walls and counters. There is an underground tunnel to allow safe access to train platforms. A mezzanine floor and and upper floors contain office space.

Union Station, Utica New York South facade, looking west (1972)
South facade, looking west (1972)

Union Station, Utica New York South facade (1972)
South facade (1972)

Union Station, Utica New York Waiting Room (1972)
Waiting Room (1972)