Union Station Arch

Columbus, Ohio

Although it stands over 35 feet tall and weighs more than 4 tons, the Union Station Arch is just a remnant of its former glory. And while its place in the Arena District has made it one of the city's most recognizable landmarks and cultural heritage sites, this is not its original home--or even its second home. This arch has a story. It is a story with a long past, and one that is tied to the story of Columbus itself. You will find that story here.

this image). The southern set of arches, which most historic photos show, was razed in May of 1928 in order to make the entrance to the station wide enough for trucks. The two sets of arches were identical except for the words "Union Station" being carved into the front of the southern arches.

Decline and Demolition (1951-1979)

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The increasing prevalence of passenger travel by both automobile and airplane eventually led to a marked decrease in passenger train travel, and Union Station fell into decline.

 

By the time Amtrak took over most of what remained of passenger train service in the country in 1971, there was only one passenger train line, the New York - Kansas City National Limited, left running through Columbus.

 

The Union Station Entrance and Arcade were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, but this would not be enough to save it. 

On the night of October 22, 1976, wrecking crews began to raze the Union Station arcade. It was a decision that shocked and saddened many of the city's residents and came as a surprise to preservationists who believed the arcade was planned to be incorporated into the new convention center being erected on the site. While concerned citizens were able to get a judge to put a temporary halt on the demolition, it was not in time to save anything but the remaining set of arches.

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Rebirth as City Monument

(1980-1999)

Over the next three years, efforts to save the arch would lead to its being disassembled in April of 1977 and moved off site to an undisclosed location where it would stay until finally being re-erected in October of 1979 at a new park built for it off Hickory Street. The park, dedicated in June of 1980, would be called Arch Park.

The Arch would stand in Arch Park for almost 20 years before the ever-developing city would necessitate that it be moved once again.

A New Home in the Arena District (1999- Present)

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Early Years (1897-1950)

Designed in the Beaux-Arts style by the architect Daniel Burnham of Chicago World's Fair fame, the Union Station Arch was once part of the elaborate entrance and arcade that fronted Columbus' third Union Station on N. High Street. Union Station functioned as the gateway to the city when most out-of-town visitors traveled by train and saw the arrival of many important figures, including Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Harry S. Truman.

The surviving arch was not the original entrance to the station, but its northern counterpart (shown on the left in

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The arch was moved for a second time to make way for the Nationwide parking garage in March of 1999. This time all as one piece. 

It now stands prominently at the north end of McFerson Commons Park, on what used to be the eastern edge of the Ohio Penitentiary, which was demolished in 1998.