History at Union Station | Urban Living

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

History at Union Station

Posted By on March 1, 2017, 4:00 AM

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History at Union Station

I've never been to any of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., but they're on my bucket list—especially the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Even Mr. President No. 45 made a visit between his golf games recently, and raved about it on Twitter. There are 16 Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries in D.C. alone, and 11 of them are in the National Mall. How the bloody hell does anyone decide which one to go to? There are also two in NYC and one in Chantilly, Va., and a traveling exhibit now at Ogden's Union Station.

The Way We Worked is an insightful collection of photos, audio clips, stories and posters from the National Archives that display the history of American workers (see p. 6 for more). The experiences of these men, women and children have been captured and preserved in photos between the mid-19th century until the late 20th century. Even if you're not a history buff like me, it's fascinating to see. Plus, there are local photos from Ogden and elsewhere in Utah to make it more relevant.

Before the railroad came to town, Ogden was simply a trading post for trappers and travelers. Union Station, designed in the Romanesque style, opened its arrival and departure gates in 1869. Within 20 years, a new building was constructed to include 33 hotel rooms, a restaurant and a barbershop, but it's no longer a hub for long-distance travelers after Amtrak's Pioneer service ended in 1997. The wonderful building is just south of Utah Transit Authority's FrontRunner station and is now repurposed as a railroad, firearms, cowboy, car and art museum all under one roof.

Thousands of workers have come through O-town throughout its history. The Way We Worked includes poignant photos of children slaving away in textile mills, as well as both posed and candid shots of women laughing and smiling while canning fruit. There's a group photo of black men in porter uniforms and caps who worked for the railroads, hauling luggage and serving drinks to the higher mucky mucks in the club cars.

It took many folks to build the world we live in today—people from all walks of life, all nationalities, colors and religions. Here in this Smithsonian display are the records of generations who lived without computers, cell phones or television and traveled by horse, cart or, later, by rail—right here in Utah. It's free to see our mutual past at this exhibit, which runs through March 18. For more info, visit theunionstation.org.

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