There’s something about train stations: something classic, endearing, familiar, comfortable. Building styles seem to change over time—but not train stations. You know them when you see them. They’ve got high ceilings, shiny floors, dark wooden benches, and are built like an old Roman dome turned on its side. You’ve visited the New York Grand Central Station which looks like a giant version of Portland’s quaint little one.
From half a mile off, you can see the tall, burnt orange brick clock tower bearing the words “Union Station: Go By Train.” Of course, in keeping with the retro theme, the clock itself is analog. If you are in the Pearl District or Nob Hill you will be able to see this tower and marvel at its handsome facade.
Out front, in the pickup area, ornate green posts hold up an awning, which keeps arriving passengers—and those greeting them—nice and dry . There is an English style garden in the center of the circular drive way.
Sitting in this garden and looking north at the train station itself, you cannot help but be taken back in time. You imagine men in fedoras and women with flowers in their hair, embracing one another as they prepare to part ways. You can see dough boys waving their white hats out the windows as their dames cry and wonder if they’ll see their boyfriends and husbands again.
Breaking from your day dream, you move inside and are instantly struck by the resplendent marble walls and flooring, the dark Cherry wooden benches and ticketing area, and the high ceilings. The main waiting area is tall, elegant, and classically “train-stationy”.
Moving into the secondary waiting area, you find a room that is sparsely furnished and has much lower ceilings. In contrast to the ornate design of the main room, this secondary waiting area is somewhat plain, but still has the look and feel of a train station from the Prohibition Era. You picture Al Capone chomping on his cigar.
From the neon lighting in the snack area, you enter the hallway. This smaller waiting area exudes classic and clean Art-Deco beauty.
This is where you wait for the train that takes you to your mother. This is one of the reasons you enjoy living in Portland and why you’ll be back as soon as humanly possible.