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HISTORY OF  
UTICA UNION STATION
Utica, New York

The New York Central Railroad opened this historic landmark in 1914.  It is the third station to
 stand on this site to serve “The Water Level Route”.  The Utica & Schenectady Railroad built 
Utica’s first railroad station in 1836. With the completion of the Syracuse & Utica in 1839, 
it became a way station on the route west.  These and other lines combined in 1853 to form 
the New York Central.
  In 1855, the Black River & Utica Railroad began running trains to
 the north.  Utica was the transfer point for tourists bound for the scenic wonders of Trenton
 Falls.  This line is today the Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern and carries Adirondack Scenic Railroad trains as far as Remsen. 
  In 1869, the New York Central opened a “new” Utica
 
Station, converted from a recently constructed shop building.  This second station included 
two brick structures - a waiting room and a 
restaurant - joined by a long platform shed.  
Station tracks and open-air plank platforms crowded between the station and the
 
Mohawk  River, which ran only a few yards north of the present station site. 

By 1900, the second station had become totally inadequate.  Passengers had to cross tracks at grade and wait in the open for trains.  Spring floods often covered the tracks.  Passengers transferring to or from trains of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western or New York, 
Ontario & Western for points south had to slog across Bagg’s Square to another - even 
more unattractive - depot.  It was time for a change. 

First, the Mohawk River had to be moved.  Between 1901 and 1907 a new channel was dug about one-half mile to the north.  Part of the old riverbed became the Barge Canal harbor, but the old channel behind the station was filled to make room for additional platforms and tracks.  Also, by 1912, the first Genesee Street overpass was completed, eliminating the congested and dangerous grade crossing at the 
west end of the station. 

Construction of the new station began in 1912.  Train service had to be maintained while it was being built, on the very site of the old station.  To do this, a temporary wood - frame station was built on the north side of the main line, together with the northernmost new platforms, umbrella sheds and portion of the passenger subway beneath the tracks. The temporary station opened early in 1913.  It served while the rest of 
the platforms, sheds and subway were completed, the old station was demolished (along with other old buildings facing Main Street), 
and the new station constructed.

Utica’s new “New York Central Station” opened with great fanfare in May 1914.  It became a “union” station in late 1915 after the DL&W and the NYO&W abandoned their old station.  An additional platform and two stub tracks were built to serve as a  terminal for these lines, they extended west from the northwest, rear corner of the station.

Allen H. Stem and Alfred Fellheimer of New York City designed this architectural gem.  Separately or as partners, Stem and Fellheimer 
were involved in the design of many noted railroad stations, including New York’s Grand Central Terminal, Detroit’s Michigan Central Station and the Art Deco Cincinnati Union Terminal. 

The Utica station has long been recognized for the beauty of its design, especially the lavish 
use of marble on the interior.  Legend has it that eight monolith (one piece) marble columns 
came from New York’s “old” Grand Central Terminal, but there is no evidence 
to support the story.

The Utica station deteriorated badly after World War II and was threatened with demolition. Restoration began in 1978 and is 
ongoing.  Now owned by Oneida County, the station serves Amtrak, Adirondack Scenic and occasional 
New York, Susquehanna & Western passenger trains, and Greyhound, Trailways, Utica Transit and other 
local bus lines.  Several county offices are located here.

Utica Union Station’s historical significance is enhanced by an archive of railroad history 
and Old 6721, the only New York Central steam locomotive on public display in 
New York State.  Both are maintained by the Utica & Mohawk Valley Chapter 
of the National Railway Historical Society, together with the railroad equipment 
next door at the Children’s Museum.

In the 21st century, the Utica Station is the last of the big stations from railroading’s 
“Golden Age” to serve long-distance passenger trains in New York State.  
As such, it is truly a living link to the past, present, and future.

Utica & Mohawk Valley Chapter, National Railway Historical Society  
www.uticarometrains.org  

This page was created to help the Adirondack Scenic Railroad promote tourism along its 141-mile operating corridor.  The railroad operates seasonal trains from several locations including Utica, 
Old Forge/Thendara, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.  A special thanks to the U&MV Chapter 
and Doug Preston for helping create this webpage.

For a full schedule and other information, visit the website at www.adirondackrr.com.

Adirondack Scenic Railroad 
PO Box 84, Thendara, NY 13472
Phones: (315) 724-0700, toll-free 1-800-819-22991
E-mail:
info@adirondackrr.com  

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© Created to help promote the Adirondack Scenic Railroad by New York Railroads.  www.newyorkrailroads.com [1/20/12tt]
Email Tom Trencansky, Dryden, NY:    publicity@newyorkrailroads.com