Monday, June 08, 2015

Lunchtime Walk to Union Pacific Depot

"The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own."
~Susan Sontag

Working in downtown Salt Lake City has its benefits, one of them being the many historic buildings within walking distance or a quick TRAX ride. We've had an incredibly mild winter, one for the books, and so I've done my fair share of seeing and exploring.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Salt Lake City Union Pacific Depot, sits on the west side of downtown Salt Lake. Building of The Union Pacific Depot was completed in 1909 and was renovated and restored in the 1970s.

The Grand Hall is an impressive space with five stained glass windows and two ceiling murals at either end depicting scenes from Utah state history. I can imagine myself walking through the station in the 1920s or 30s or 40s. It was used all the way through 1986 before Amtrak moved services to the Rio Grande station and then later to the Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub.

One mural, by San Francisco artist John MacQuarrie, illustrates the Mormon pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 and the other, by San Francisco artist Harry Hopps, shows the driving in of the Golden Spike at Promontory Point, just north of Salt Lake City, signifying the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.

Mural depicting the Mormon pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847
by John MacQuarrie
Mural depicting the driving in of the Golden Spike at Promontory Point in 1869
by Harry Hopps

Although the Grand Hall is intended to serve as a grand entrance to the Gateway, an outdoor shopping mall with dining and entertainment, I think it is under-utilized since most people park in underground parking lots and never have need to walk through the Grand Hall. What a shame! Many are missing out on experiencing this piece of history.

Can't you just picture yourself buying a ticket here?

The details in the molding and tiling entrance me. Combine that with the high majestic ceilings, the murals, and stained glass, I could just sit there gazing.

That's it. Every time I walk over to the Gateway now, I'm going to make a conscious effort to remember to walk through the Grand Hall. It's worth the step back into history, if but for a moment.

No comments: