Railways aren’t just responsible for getting us from A to B. They’re a part of our heritage. They have seen us through decades of social and political change, all of which is has manifested itself into some of the finest architecture in the world today. Here are 7 of our favourites.
1. Grand Central Station – New York
A vision in mosaic and brick, New York City’s Grand Central Station opened in 1913. American railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt had the station’s chandeliers designed with exposed lightbulbs, to show off the power of this new fangled thing called electricity (you probably haven’t heard of it). The building is so large, it not only houses the world’s largest Apple Store, but has a full sized tennis court on the upper levels.
2. Milano Centrale – Milan
Two very different Italian leaders had a hand in the creation of Milano Centrale. The foundation stone was laid by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1903, and the extravagant and complex design was supported by Benito Mussolini. The design initially mirrored Washington’s Union Station, and contains over 11,000 cubic metres of Marble.
3. St Pancras International – London
London St Pancras started life in 1868, and spent much of the 20th century as an underused (and under-loved) terminus. Thanks to a multi-million pound regeneration project in the early 2000’s, St Pancras International now stands as a stunning example of everything a modern railway station should be, and as the London terminus of cross-channel Eurostar train services.
4. Union Station – Washington DC
Pre-dating the City’s great monuments such as the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, Washington DC’s Union Station is a prime example of Beaux-Arts architecture, and the inspiration behind Milano Centrale.
5. Kazanskaya Station – Moscow
Located a stone’s throw away from Leningradsky and Yaroslavsky stations, Kazanskaya stands as one of Moscow’s most ornate rail terminuses. It’s interior takes inspiration from everything, from Art Nouveau to the stylings of the Kremlin. The modern tower, completed in 1940, resembles Kazan’s Söyembikä Tower.
6. Kuala Lumpur Railway Station – Kuala Lumpur
Built under British colonial rule, east and west collide in the form of Kuala Lumpur’s station. Built in 1886, it underwent considerable work before being re-opened in 1910. No longer supporting intercity trains, many of it’s original platforms now stand decommissioned, or converted to retail space.
7. Gare De Lyon – Paris
Built in 1900 on the North bank of the Seine, 90,000,000 passengers pass through Gare De Lyon every year. It is one of six large stations in Paris, and passengers can hop on to high speed TGV services to Italy, Germany and Spain from it’s platforms. It’s restaurant, Le Train Bleu, boasts famous guests including Coco Chanel and Salvador Dalí.
Contributor: Chris Lomas