Cincinnati Union Terminal, Saved.

Union Terminal for WP (1 of 1)The Cincinnati Union Terminal (Cincinnati Museum Center) belongs on anybody’s top-10 list of the world’s great Art Deco buildings. Exaggerating, right?

Don’t think so.

Union Terminal for WP (4 of 4)

The tallest half-dome in the world. Tall enough to park a 10-story building inside. By volume, biggest half-dome in the western hemisphere (Sydney’s Opera House is larger.)

Union Terminal for WP (2 of 4)

Some of the mosaic murals have been moved to the airport but the terminal once had the largest collection of secular mosaics in the the world.

Union Terminal for WP (3 of 4)

Adjusted for inflation, the total cost of construction, at $41,000,000 made the terminal the most expensive railroad station ever built.

Of course this wouldn’t be a big deal if the place wasn’t filled with Art Deco details and exquisite craftsmanship but trust me, it is.

Union Terminal for WP (1 of 4)

Ladies Room lounge with linoleum murals by Pierre Bourdelle.

Union Terminal for WP-office (1 of 1)

Long story short, the terminal has repeatedly been the comeback kid. For a while, it survived the decline of railroad passenger service. Then it was abandoned, then made into a shopping mall and finally a great museum center complete with an Imax theater.

But years of Ohio winters took their toll and the terminal could not go on without major repairs. The solution was a sales tax increase of 1/4 cent for 5 years. Those of you reading from outside the USA should know that in these parts, tax increases are as popular as vacations in North Korea. But the people of Hamilton County saw the terminal’s value–literally, since 38% of visitors come from outside the county–and passed the tax.


When visitors to the 2017 World Congress on Art Deco in Cleveland head over to Cincinnati, they’ll see one of the ten Art Deco wonders of the world, courtesy of the people of Hamilton County.

Union Terminal for WP (1 of 1)

Centerpiece of the American Art Deco exhibition, Smithsonian Institution, 1988. Photo, courtesy Robert Rose.

For more on the terminal, including more than 250 vintage photographs, here’s the book. (Its fabulous; I’ll do a separate post on it, shortly.)

For information on current exhibits and what’s playing in Imax, click here.




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