AKA: Union Railroad Station, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - infrastructure - transportation structures - railroad stations

Designers: Nitze - Stagen, Company, Incorporated (firm); Patterson, Daniel J., Architect (firm); Seattle Cornice Works (firm); Peter Nitze (developer); Daniel James Patterson (architect); Frank Stagen (developer)

Dates: constructed 1911

view all images ( of 1 shown)

4th Avenue South and South Jackson Street
Seattle, WA 98104

OpenStreetMap (new tab)
Google Map (new tab)
click to view google map

Railroad baron James J. Hill (1838-1916) erected his King Street Station in 1904-1906 to serve as Seattle's main stop for the newly merged (in 1901) Great Northern Railroad and Northern Pacific Lines. Not to be outdone, the Union Pacific Railroad commissioned architect Daniel J. Patterson to design its magnificent Beaux-Arts main depot in the city, which opened on 05/20/1911. In an age obsessed with Taylorist mechanization, the Union Pacific underscored its new terminal's labor-saving, hygienic qualities. Historian Heather Macintosh said of it: "In contrast to the smelly, somewhat abject conditions of the earlier stations in Seattle, the Oregon and Washington Station was highly service oriented. A small hospital at concourse level, a restaurant, ladies' waiting areas, and other amenities made the station resemble today's airports. Efficiency and cleanliness were extremely important, and the operations of the station were mechanized and systematic, a far cry from the early station's random schedule." (See Heather M. MacIntosh, "Railroad Stations: Their Evolution in Seattle."article appeared 10/01/1999; accessed 04/05/2013.) It ceased as a passenger rail hub in 1971, but was restarted under the auspices of Amtrak.

Like many great rail terminals of the time, the Union station took stylistic cues from Roman baths.

In 1996, interest was rekindled in using Union Station as a transit hub for use by Sound Transit. Development company Nitze-Stagen entered the picture, providing funds for the restoration of the station's Great Hall. Renovation of the station won its developers a 2000 award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2013, the Union Station consisted of a complex of buildings, including four other office building with 5th Avenue South addresses: 505, 605, 625 and 705. Opus Northwest owned all but one, 505 5th Avenue South, which was controlled by Paul Allen's real estate development company Vulcan.

National Register of Historic Places (August 30, 1974): 74001960 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 6248