Rehabbing old train stations seems to work when the buildings are allowed to keep their original function. Denver’s Union Station, for example, attracts herds of people because they can travel to both local and national destinations from there. St. Louis learned comparatively quickly that just having stores wasn’t enough to bring in crowds, and it’s undergoing a transformation that will include an aquarium, a water show, etc. I hope it works. The country’s most celebrated train station is New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. Thousands of tourists, commuters, diners, and shoppers pass through venerable Grand Central Terminal every day. It deserves its awed crowd.
When it opened in 1871, Grand Central Depot was already obsolete. It’s train shed was reconfigured almost immediately to become a 100 feet wide, 650 feet long structure that was a considerable engineering feat. It has been redone and then redone again over the years while becoming the busiest train station in the United States. Before the 20th century was very old it was remodeled to accommodate electric trains after the steam era ended. It still looks the way it did in 1913, when it officially opened to the public and became Grand Central Terminal. By 1967 it had achieved landmark status, which meant that it was protected by laws that killed demolition rumors, A multi-year, very costly exterior restoration began as recently as 2007. Despite all of the work done on it, Grand Central Station’s grand hall retains its early 20th century look despite new LED lighting and ongoing updates and improvements. Just standing on a staircase in it admiring its grandeur makes a trip to New York worthwhile.
It’s truly a tourist attraction while remaining a place where commuters arrive and depart as they head north out of the city where they work. Tourists come in to see the largest glass Tiffany clock in the world, dine in one of Grand Central’s fine restaurants like its famous Oyster Bar, visit a gourmet food shop, etc. There are about 100 retail establishments in its cavernous interior. Both audio and guided tours are available.