Union Terminal still vibrant landmark 81 years after opening

Image courtesy of Cincinnati Museum Center
Image courtesy of Cincinnati Museum Center

Cincinnatians on Monday celebrated the birthday of one of the city's treasures.

Union Terminal opened as a major center of railroad traffic 81 years ago.

Cincinnati historians say the building was an ambitious undertaking when construction began at the onset of the Great Depression  in 1929.

The building opened on March 31, 1933, ahead of time and under budget, an accomplishment in any era, but even more so with the equipment and technology of the 1930s.

Cincinnati's Union Terminal has seen its fair share of history, including several visits by presidents and presidential candidates, beginning with FDR in 1936 and most recently Mitt Romney in 2012. It was also the site of the nation's first USO transit lounge, serving over 3 million servicemen and women, early one-fifth of all World War II GIs, during the war.

As rail traffic declined in the 1960s, Union Terminal remained a mainstay of the Cincinnati skyline even as the activity inside changed. It has been home to a science center and shopping mall before finally becoming home to Cincinnati Museum Center. From a bustling temple of transportation to a center of education and inspiration, Union Terminal's use has evolved just as the city of Cincinnati itself has.

"Union Terminal has been a source of pride for Cincinnati since it first opened in 1933," says Douglass McDonald, President and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center

The Cincinnati Museum Center invites the public to celebrate Union Terminal's 81st birthday by visiting cincymuseum.org for facts and historic images of the building.

Union Terminal will also be featured in the "Engineering Map of America," an interactive map presented by PBS and American Experience.

Click here for photos of Union Terminal in the 1930s courtesy of the Cincinnati Museum Center.

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