Friday, March 11, 2016

Grand Ol’ Union Station

Union Station in Pioneer Square is one of the few buildings in Seattle that I think of as “grand.” Built in 1911, it served as a train station until 1971, then stood mostly wasted for three decades. Finally Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen backed its restoration, and now Union Station is back to its full glory.

Apparently the aptly named grand hall is rented out for weddings and other events in the evenings and weekends, but by day, its main use is to house the offices of Sound Transit. Plenty of chairs and tables are scattered about, and there’s a nice, clean restroom. But other than that, it’s mostly open space – plus that beautiful arched interior.

After talking about it for years, Urban Sketchers Seattle’s Friday group finally met at Union Station this morning. I spent a full hour sketching the interior (note that I even made a tiny thumbnail in the lower-right corner! Sometimes I actually remember to plan before hitting the page), then I posted my “trophy shot” of the sketch on Facebook. I knew my friend Reb worked for Sound Transit and was probably somewhere in the building, so I tagged her on the image, asking if she was nearby. A few seconds later, she appeared by my side! It turned out she had been eating lunch right there in the hall.

Reb found me!
Since the day had started out cold but dry, I was hoping that by afternoon I could sketch the station’s exterior. I should have gone out in the morning when others had; by the time we shared sketchbooks at 12:30, the rain had begun – and kept on going. I got home drenched, very happy that I had my waterproof Rickshaw bag.


  1. I love the arches!!! I'm wondering why so many of our train stations have the name "Union Station." I'll have to check that out.

  2. Wikipedia knows all. LOL

    A union station (also known as a union terminal and a joint station in Europe) is a railway station where tracks and facilities are shared by two or more separate railway companies, allowing passengers to connect conveniently between them. The term 'union station' is used in North America and 'joint station' is used in Europe.

    1. A-ha! Thanks, Joan! I've always wondered that myself!

      - Tina


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