Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Cincinnati's Union Terminal, like most municipal train stations, reached a crossroads in the 1970s. It had lost all passenger service by 1972 and freight operations required the rails but not the building. A new purpose had to be found to fend off destruction. Built in 1933, this Art Deco masterwork had already faced damage. The massive mosaic murals, depicting Cincinnati's fields of industry, had been saved by a loyal public when the terminal's concourse was destroyed. (Those murals can be viewed here).

Here in Watterson's cartoon of August 6, 1980, a two-year plan to reinvent the Terminal building as a mall had been completed. Passenger rail had not returned, much to the chagrin of Watterson's characters. The mall idea had a big opening, but the concept became more of a novelty than a destination shopping experience. It slowly staggered to it's demise in 1984. I like the touch of the hot air balloons in the upper-left. I'm not sure if that was part of the actual grand opening or not.

Faced with destruction again the mid-80s, it was saved by voters of a bond levy and transformed into the very successful Cincinnati Museum Center, which includes limited passenger rail service via Amtrak's Cardinal.

And, yes, it does look just like the Hall of Justice from "Super Friends".