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Author Topic: Top 20 Best Looking Amtrak Stations
yukon11
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I know this topic has been discussed before, but it's been a while.

What Amtrak stations would be in your "top 20 list", based on general appearance? Here is my top 20 list. I've been to only a few of the stations listed, so I'm really going on photographs in order to rate them. In some cases, historic stations weigh in as heavily as the visual aspect. I'm sure you can both add and subtract from this list:

Amtrak Station Cities and Towns:

20. El Paso, TX
19. Greensboro, NC
18. Galesburg, IL
17. Rocklin, CA
16. Greensburg, PA
15. Tuscaloosa, AL
14. West Palm Beach, FL
13. Leavenworth, WA
12. Barstow, CA
11. Los Angeles, CA
10. Chicago, IL
9. Kansas City, MO
8. Williamsburg, VA
7. Portland, OR
6. Richmond VA (Main St. Stn.)
5. San Diego, CA
4. Worcester, MA
3. Davis, CA
2. Glenwood Springs, CO
1. Whitefish, MT

Richard

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RR4me
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I would have Denver in my list, and although not a grand old station, I like the way the new Martinez, CA turned out.
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TwinStarRocket
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Two I would add:
Raton NM http://www.trainweb.org/usarail/raton.htm
East Glacier MT

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Geoff Mayo
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I thought Seattle, WA was quite nice. I agree with RR4Me with Denver.

I'm surprised to see Glenwood Springs so high on the list but certainly don't disagree - river, mountains, hot springs definitely make the *setting* nice, but the station itself - unremarkable?

That Worcester, MA photo, for some reason, reminds me of Kuala Lumpur (old station)!

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amtrak92
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20. Washington Union
19. Williamsburg
18. Whitefish
17. Chicago Union
16. King St in Seattle
15. Wilmington
14. Orlando
13. El Paso
12. San Diego
11. Denver Union
10. Richmond Main St.
9. Portland Or
8. Greensboro
7. West Palm Beach
6. Omaha
5. Kansas City
4.Ft. Worth
3. Dallas
2.Worcester
1. LA

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Southwest Chief
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I like San Bernardino and Bartsow, after the rebuilds of course.

Flagstaff is a nice and often forgotten one too. Best looking in winter.

My all time favorite is a toss up. Los Angeles or San Diego. Both are impressive. If San Diego did not have the electric lines for the trolley in front, it would be an easy pick for #1.

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amtrak92
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The electric lines take out a lot of the view.
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Ocala Mike
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Always liked Winter Park, FL for its "location, location, location."
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amtrak92
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I know I always love it when my train stops there. It is just so awesome to be in the park itself
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Gilbert B Norman
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WPK; step off and smell the $$$$$$$
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Doodlebug
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It is not the busiest or biggest, but it's home and a Top 20 list without it is incomplete. Hamlet, N.C., as it appears when its only remaining train, the Silver Star, passes through.

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yukon11
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How did I miss Hamlet...wow..I agree it is definitely high on the list.

I agree with Geoff Mayo..probably should not have rated Glenwood Springers so high. However, as one of the stations I have actually been to, I really loved that historic, old Glenwood Springs station.

Richard

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Tanner929
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Like this post, have to work on this so many different styles.

Richmond Main St Station VA
New Haven Union Station CT
High Point, NC
Westerly RI
Wallingford CT
Pennsylvania Station Newark NJ
Pennsylvania Station Baltimore MD
Washington DC Union Station
Danville VA
Greensboro NC
Hamlet NC
Chicago Union Station IL
Kansas City Union Station MO
Toledo OH
Denver Union Station CO
Albany-Renseleer NY
Utica NY
Montreal Central Station
Los Angelas Union Station CA
San Bernadino Station CA

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amtrak92
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How did I forget Hamlet, after all it isn't far away
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notelvis
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Rather than an entire list, I'll submit this, the one station that should be included on anyone's top 20 list.

Thanks Tanner for not overlooking High Point, NC. High Point - after renovation and before

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David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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Jerome Nicholson
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Cincinnatti Union Station still serves as a station and deserves a place on any list.
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Tanner929
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Was thinking of putting Cincinnatti in my list but took Kansas City over CIncy, for Stations living usefull lives while waiting for the trains to return. Perhaps Richmond Va's Union Station, know doing tiime as a Science Museum the platforms are in great condition not sure if its possible to re-rout the tracks from the Staples Mill Station. It is really amazing the construction and detail are just such works of art that not many towns and cities have the heart to tear them down. BuIt at a time when Buildings were advertising and showed strength and power company names where chisled in stone today there clamped on in plastic easily changable after the latest merger our buyout. I suppose when they were built travelers used them as we use airports you arrived, checked the bags in and had lunch or dinner and or make a connection.
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amtrak92
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Yeah that is how I envision the past, when trains were used like planes. I think they still have some track at Broad St. Station, as I have seen photos of Amtrak units there, on the point of the AOE
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Henry Kisor
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How about the Top 20 WORST Amtrak stations, just to add a little levity?

Good candidates would have to be the one at Essex, Montana -- just a 50-foot slab of cracked asphalt -- and the AmShack at Granby, Colorado.

Maybe Alpine, Texas -- no platform at all, just a looooong way down to the step box on the slanted roadbed.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Aside from obvious ones such as New York Penn Station, and while to me it is quite OK, I'm afraid Stamford CT could go down with some around here as a "bad bad".

Suffice to say, it is a relatively new structure (20 yrs) but devoid of any aesthetics. Although Amtrak has a designated wait area, if you don't know exactly where you are going or are laden with luggage and children, enjoy life.

But the "max" I can imagine anyone having to be there is a half-hour; Corridor trains are almost always "more or less" on time, and with Metro North operating on half-hour frequency, that is the max a connecting passenger would need to hang around.

But it does have plusses; taxicabs, and municipal busses are "right there", and there is plenty of reasonably priced parking available in a connected garage. Hertz and Avis auto rentals are literally 'accross the street', but private vehicle passenger pick ups can be "sport'.

All told, hardly a facility to enhance the experience of a Long Distance train trip, but it does its intended job quite well.

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Mike Smith
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The Houston station is definitely in the running for worst!
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Ocala Mike
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I've said this before and I'll say it again:

Ocala, FL. It has TWO rail lines crossing at a diamond with TWO platforms. Only problem - NO TRAINS!

As a rail station, it makes a fine bus station.

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amtrak92
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Selma NC has three platforms. Two are used. 1 is not original but very cool. I haven't seen Ocala's yet
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Jerome Nicholson
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quote:
Originally posted by Tanner929:
Was thinking of putting Cincinnatti in my list but took Kansas City over CIncy, for Stations living usefull lives while waiting for the trains to return. Perhaps Richmond Va's Union Station, know doing tiime as a Science Museum the platforms are in great condition not sure if its possible to re-rout the tracks from the Staples Mill Station. It is really amazing the construction and detail are just such works of art that not many towns and cities have the heart to tear them down. BuIt at a time when Buildings were advertising and showed strength and power company names where chisled in stone today there clamped on in plastic easily changable after the latest merger our buyout. I suppose when they were built travelers used them as we use airports you arrived, checked the bags in and had lunch or dinner and or make a connection.

Amtrak's Cardinal stops at Cincy station, so I guess it qualifies as a "station". Unlike Richmond Broad Street. Last time a train called there was on Grandluxe's last Southern tour, when the AOE trainset backed in from Staples Mill.

Seattle's King Street? Maybe it'll be pretty after they ever finish restoring its interior.

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Jerome Nicholson
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quote:
Originally posted by Henry Kisor:
How about the Top 20 WORST Amtrak stations, just to add a little levity?

Good candidates would have to be the one at Essex, Montana -- just a 50-foot slab of cracked asphalt -- and the AmShack at Granby, Colorado.

Maybe Alpine, Texas -- no platform at all, just a looooong way down to the step box on the slanted roadbed.

Ugly? Just for a start:

Richmond Staples Mill
NY Penn
Houston
Boston North (Fleet Center)

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amtraxmaniac
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I'm partial to the Western US-so here's my very provincial list:

1. Los Angeles Union Station
2. Chicago Union Station
3. Tucson
4. San Diego
5. Washington DC
6. Whitefish MT
7. Santa Barbara
8. Portland OR
9. Sacramento (have they finished restoration?)
10.Fullerton
11. Kansas City
12. Denver
13. San Luis Obispo
14. Bakersfield, CA
15. Barstow
16. The NEW Albuquerque NM Station
17. Martinez, CA
18. San Jose, CA
19. Seattle-King Street
20. Santa Ana

My beef with Seattle is that it looks spectacular from the outside and like a run down bus station inside! Is it still that way? Its been about 6 years.

Crappy Rathole station stops:
1. Stockton-San Joaquin Street-bad area, ugly building
2. Oceanside,CA-just plain UGLY
3. Fresno-even after the restoration
4. New Orleans-maybe because it IS the bus station.
5. Anaheim-this station tries too hard to be non assuming to the point of being so generic and low key, its distasteful. The land of the Mouse deserves a more glamorous gateway.

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amtraxmaniac
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I suppose I could add Oakland Jack London to the good list, but not in the top 20. Flagstaff, San Juan Capistrano, and Davis are decent as well.

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Patrick

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Geoff Mayo
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How about adding some originality into the list? Wasn't the waiting area at Maricopa, AZ a converted rail car (definitely not anymore)?

If you want bus stops for trains, Dyer, IN has to be up there with the best (or worst, depending on how you look at it).

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Geoff M.

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Tanner929
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Mmm the worst list has to go to cities that had or have great buildings but went with the Amshacks, which is why Staples Mill Road in Richmond Va is always high on any worst lists. And of course New York's Pennsylvania Station is always at the top of any list for "what was and what it is now." Stamford CT and its twin sister in Bridgeport are Concrete commuter stations which replaced old wooden structures these are functional for the Metro-North rider, park the car, grab a newspaper, coffee and a donut and zip down to the platforms. I can't put "flag stops" in a worse catagory, they are what they are, sort of real throwbacks.
First part of list are just no thought designed stations the second part of the list are buildings that replaced great stations

Windsor Locks CT (not a flag stop but probably should be)
Western NY Rochester=Buffalo
Pennsylvania East of Harrisburgh Middletown, Mt Joy, Exton, Ardmor
Pennsylvania West of Harrisburgh Hunington, Altoona,
South Bend IN
Berkley CA
Staples Mills VA
Hunington WV
Topeka KS
Birmingham AL
Cleveland OH
Houston TX
Pittsburgh PA
Detroit MI
Minneapolis MN
Boston North Fleet Center MA
Back Bay Boston MA
Pennsylvania Station NY
Providence RI

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Mike Smith
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Marshall, TX should be among the good ones.

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Geoff Mayo
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To clarify my post (I would edit, but there have been postings since), I mean some station buildings that have originality in their design or use, such as the example I gave - I didn't mean that the lists so far weren't original! Sorry if any offence was caused.

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Geoff M.

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TwinStarRocket
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No worst list should exclude Benson AZ, Lordsburg NM, and Deming NM.

As for the ugly Amshack attributed to Minneapolis (actually in St. Paul), Amtrak is coming back to the magnificent St. Paul Union Depot in the future. There it will be connected by light rail to Minneapolis.

http://www.uniondepot.org/
http://www.minnpost.com/derekwallbank/2010/02/17/16000/st_pauls_union_depot_gets_35_million_for_renovation

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amtrak92
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Don't forget Columbia, Florence in my state for the worst. Both are Amshacks
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yukon11
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Worst Amtrak stations? For states that once were the hub of passsenger train activity, I would say many of the Amtrak stations in New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are nothing to get too excited about. Out west, I think that many of the Amtrak stations along the San Joaquin route should get dinged.

I have not been to the Amtrak Sacramento station in about 15-20 years. I don't know if the station has been cleaned up or refurbished. If not, I would have to put Sacramento as the #1 worst Amtrak station. The last time I was there, especially going through their rest room facilities, I felt in need of a malathion spray.

Richard

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amtrak92
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Here are another two in my state, Yamasee and Charleston. Charleston for the amount of passengers isn't big enough,
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sojourner
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Not mentioned among attractive depots: 30th St Sta Philadelphia & Boston South are both pretty nice, and I thought Salem OR was a nice one (though I was not very impressed with Salem OR)!

Harpers Ferry doesn't seem to be much of a station, but the location is gorgeous.

Martinsburg WVA has that lovely roundhouse

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SilverStar092
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My top 20 stations:
1. Los Angeles
2. Washington
3. Toronto
4. San Diego
5. Philadelphia 30th St
6. Whitefish
7. Williamsburg
8. Portland, OR
9. Albany-Rennsalear
10.Vancouver, BC
11.West Palm Beach
12.Lorton (AutoTrain)
13.Dallas
14.Chicago Union
15.Alexandria, VA
16.Denver
17.Baltimore Penn
18.Boston South Sta
19.Emeryville, CA
20.El Paso

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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by amtraxmaniac:
Crappy Rathole station stops:
....
3. Fresno-even after the restoration
4. New Orleans-maybe because it IS the bus station.

Fresno among the worst? How long has it been since you were there? Been there three or four trips in the last year, and thought it a nicely restored medium size city station. If it weren't for the dry Central Valley climate, its main problem would be that it is too small for the patronage. (Picture a Christmas holiday crowd of about 100 people off and 100 people on per train, and 6 trains each way per day - although I would be surprised if they were all that busy.)

New Orleans: Was last there about 20 years ago. When you recall that it was probably the last major city station built, opening in about 1953, and was a quite nice mid 1950's building at the time it opened, it was very sad to see how it had fallen.

Surprised that no one has mentioned Beaumont's non-station as being among the worst.

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amtrak92
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Know a nice looking station, I won't rank it in the top 20, would be Dillon SC, the old ACL architecture really looks good.
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rresor
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Well, I'm glad somebody got around to mentioning my hometown station -- 30th Street, Philadelphia. It's an Art Deco gem, and anyone who isn't moved by the war memorial statue doesn't have a heart.

Also -- Ann Arbor, MI is a Michigan Central gem. It also contains an excellent restaurant.

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