Regarding the old Jacksonville Union Station : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

From the countless number of times my family and I traveled back and forth to and from Florida when I was a child (we went once by SAL, but the experience was inferior to that of the ACL), the biggest event of the entire trip (especially going southbound) was backing into the JAX station in the early morning on ACL's East Coast Champion and Florida Special. Does anyone have any knowledge about the history of the JAX Union Station (was it really inspired architecturally by the old Penn Station in NYC?) and know of any books or web sites which I could use to read about the Station's history? Thanks

-- Donald B. Krummrich (, July 15, 2004


Donald, If you can find a June 1978 issue of "Trains" magazine, there is a six page article entitled " Jacksonville Terminal, Mr. Wilkes, and me", and sub-titled " A wondrous mecca for train-watchers". David P. Morgan, the long time editor of "Trains" magazine, was the author.

-- Roger duPont (, July 18, 2004.

Aaron is correct in that the 1910 Pennsylvania Station in NYC was the inspiration for the Jacksonville Union Station. Penn Station was modeled after the Roman Baths of Caracalla. The fact is that many large terminals built in the time period 1900-1920 were constructed in the "Beaux Arts" style-which was named after a French school of architecture. This style-of constructing grand, ornamental structures patterned after classic structures-first became popular during the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. New York's Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal, Washington's Union Station, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Richmond, etc., were all constructed in the Beaux Arts style.

There are plenty of references to the Beaux Arts style on the Internet.

Somehow I think that Beaux Arts certainly beats an AMSHACK. I spent many hours at Jacksonville in the 1960's and always felt that it was a grand entrance into Florida. My fondest memory is the placement of potted palm trees in containers over each of the bumping blocks-a feature shared by the old Savannah and the SAL Miami terminal.

-- Michael W. Savchak (, July 16, 2004.

Donald, I can respond in part to your question regarding the station.

First of all, the name is The Jacksonville Union Terminal. The present building (the Terminal) was constructed on the location of a former building, known as the Jacksonville Union Station. This earlier building was a two-story wooden structure built in 1898 at a lower ground floor elevation than the present-day building, to the extent that it frequently was flooded when the nearby St. Johns River crested its banks and inundated the surrounding areas.

The Union Station building, having been built of wood on frequently wet, and periodically flooded soils, very quickly began to experience serious structural problems. The decision was made to tear down the wooden building, elevate the foundation, and to construct a new building that would better represent the City of Jacksonville.

The new Jackdonville Union Terminal building was constructed in the Italian Villa architectural style (after the Romam public baths at a city near Rome), and was completed in 1919. The Italian Villa architectural style may be the common link with the old Penn Station.

There is a website that has a post of this information, but I can't find the e-mail address.

Best wishes!

Aaron Dowling (

-- Aaron Dowling (, July 16, 2004.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ