This past Saturday, I enjoyed my first visit to the recently restored Union Station in downtown Denver. Stepping through the doors, I felt transported, not back in time, but to a new time of its own. The air radiated with the lively energy of travel, drawing me so naturally like a magnetic pulse of exploration and rewarding discovery. As a historic landmark in Denver for over a hundred years, the edifice had been left lonely for decades. Now, it is embarking on its next life – a whole new story that has me so proud of my beloved city Denver.
Throughout the fourteen years I have lived in Colorado, I’ve known Union Station to be a building of historic value; lovely on the outside and interesting on the inside, yet feeling abandoned compared to what history tells us of its previous glory. Almost like an aging soul, it seemed sad, waiting for Denver’s new generations to recognize its value once again.
That time has come and this July 2014, the historic building of Union Station was revived into a new glory. Spending a few hours in its presence on a full-moon, September Saturday night, was like being in the company of greatness reincarnate. I could envision the first ladies of the western frontier gliding about in their elaborate dresses and handsome frontiersmen and rogue cowboys escorting them in suit and hat. All the while I mingled in with the excited people in this present place in time, “dressed-up” according to Denver standards, and enthralled with our surroundings as much as I was.
I commend the City of Denver and project team, on the work they have done. It is as if they simply dug down into the magical personality of this place and lovingly built from its foundations, channels and structures for its spirit and beauty to live once again. From the smooth white floors to the dark wood train-station benches, high open ceilings and giant hanging lamps, everything flows together, each little detail harmoniously in place. There are shuffle board games to play in the very center and all around are lush leather love-seats, high-back chairs and low tables for setting your delicious drinks and food on. Bordering this community area, which is the heart of the building, are local restaurants like Snooze Eatery and Stoic & Genuine, the new Terminal Bar on the first floor and The Cooper Lounge upstairs, and stores like the Tattered Cover Bookstore that provide stimulating ways to enjoy your time here. In essence, this is now the place in Denver to visit for a good time, not just for traveling and using the public transportation system. You can even walk around with your tasty libation, choosing to eat your ice-cream or other gourmet food in the center’s lounge area.
For the traveler and visitor of Denver, is The Crawford Hotel, also located within the building. It is an independent Colorado hotel and the word on the street is that each room has its own unique style and decor. Through the hotel, you can book a 1-hour tour that introduces you to several of their guest rooms, the history and art of the Union Station, as well as its transportation services, and the retail and restaurant spaces that are part of its new life. To top it off, they give you a drink voucher for a beer flight or glass of wine to enjoy at the Terminal Bar.
Walking back, we followed the escalators on the west side of the building to Union Station’s underground bus terminals. Pristine and freshly clean, the expansive space gleams with white floors and yellow-tiled walls extending high above. When we re-surfaced on the other side, we were greeted with the light-rail that services not only different areas of downtown, but also the historic town of Golden, home to Colorado School of Mines, Coors Brewing Company, and gateway to the Rocky Mountains that Denver is a magical doorway to. Feel like visiting Boulder for the day? Just ride a Denver B-Cycle to the Union Station and hop on one of the direct buses that go to Boulder. Then return later that day and you have a day-adventure you don’t have to drive to.
Union Station is alive again! All its glory and splendor is here for our enjoyment. It’s the antique, vintage doorknob on Colorado’s front-door, now gleaming bright gold and showing off its timeless luster. Make sure to visit and come back and share with me: What story does our new Denver-jewel hold for you?
Picture credit goes to Denver’s Union Station, originated from their Facebook Page.