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Santa Fe Depot
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National Parks Under Attack
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Santa Fe Depot

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2008 - 2017.

A few blocks from San Diego Bay is Union Station, AKA Amtrak Station and Santa Fe Depot. The depot was originally built in 1915 by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. The Spanish Mission Colonial Revival building, with Moorish influences, was designed by San Francisco Architect John R. Bakewell and Arthur Brown Jr. and built by William Simpson Construction Company. The depot standing today replaced an earlier Victorian-style depot which was built in 1887 for the California Southern Railroad Company. The Santa Fe Depot (original name) opened on March 8, 1915.

There were several reasons for building such a magnificent depot at the southwestern corner of the United States. The City of San Diego was campaigning to become the West Coast terminus of the Santa Fe Railway system's transcontinental rail line. Also the depot was needed to handle the visitors to the Panama-California Exposition. The city lost in its attempt to be the terminus of the rail line when Los Angeles was chosen, but the Exposition was a success and the site is now the nucleus of Balboa Park.

In addition to the Santa Fe Railroad, the depot also served the San Diego and Arizona Railway (SD&A) and San Diego Electric Railway (SDERy). It was upon the completion of the SD&A line east in 1919 that the name of the depot was changed to San Diego Union Station. The SDERy ceased operations in 1949 and SD&A in 1951, leaving Santa Fe the only occupant of the depot from January 1951 until the formation of Amtrak.

The depot measures 650 feet long, 106 feet wide, including the Baggage Express building which is connected to the main building with arches and by a track side arcade. The waiting room is 170 feet long and 55 feet wide. A 41-seat Harvey House at the north end closed in 1931 but reopened from 1935-36 to serve the California-Pacific International Exposition. The materials in the building include a steel frame covered with concrete, brick, wood, and tile. Arches are used frequently such as the connecting structure and the waiting room. Bronze and glass chandeliers hang from the ceiling and other decorative elements include tile wainscot and Santa Fe logos.

The depot was threatened with demolition in 1971 but survived and still serves the traveling public. Today the Depot is the southern terminus of the second busiest Amtrak rail corridor in the United States, the San Diego Northern Coaster commuter trains. Mexicoach bus routes end here, and it is the hub for the San Diego Trolley light rail system. It also serves the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System bus system. The tracks continue south serving freight customers. The depot is within walking distance of museums and other tourist destinations.

The depot is in the Historic America Building Survey, San Diego's Historical Site Board register, and the National Register for Historic Places.

1050 Kettner Blvd. (Between Broadway and C Streets
San Diego, CA 92101

Depot as seen from the Embarcadero.

South facade from street.

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This page last updated: Saturday, 06-Jul-2013 11:03:56 EDT

Note:This is not the official site for any of the places shown in Places Earth. Places Earth is not responsible for accuracy of the information. Hours of operations, prices, exhibits, and sometimes locations are subject to change without notice.

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