Thursday, March 22, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 31

“Union Depot” or King Street Station

Today’s card is labeled as the Union Depot in Seattle and was printed in Germany. It does have the same logo as the postcard of Second Avenue from last week--(PCK) that I think must stand for Paul C. Koeber & Company of New York City and Kirchheim (Germany).

There were two railway stations in Seattle in the early 1900s, the Union Depot and the King Street Station. These two stations were only a block or two apart and in many later photographs both buildings are visible. In this picture only one is shown with an open space beside it and even though it is labeled the Union Depot it is in fact the King Street Station. Because it is standing by itself suggests to me that this picture was taken prior the construction of the Union Depot. The Union Depot does not have a clock tower, is taller and has a very different roof line. For photos of both buildings please see Railroad Stations: Their evolution in Seattle at

There were earlier depots made of wood the first one was little more than a shack and was situated on the Elliott Bay tidelands amid the numerous sawmills and warehouses. It was used as an unloading point for Northern Pacific trains not as a passenger train station. Later a replacement station called the Columbia Street Depot was built. It was a two story wooden structure where the stationmaster lived above the street level offices. This was before the great Seattle fire of 1889. The King Street station was built in 1904, the Union Depot was built in 1911.

The King Street Station has had several remodels and renovations that more or less ruined the former grandeur. Like the comfort station under the Pergola mentioned in another
postcard Thursday post the these railway stations were beautifully appointed with vaulted arched ceilings, tiled floors, oak benches, areas to purchase magazines and cigars and other amenities. The King Street Station is currently used by Amtrak. It is undergoing restoration to bring it back to its original appearance. In the 1990s the Union Depot was bought and renovated by Vulcan Inc. and now serves as headquarters for Sound Transit. The grand hall is rented out for weddings and other events.

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