1986: Renovated Union Station reopens to the public

Posted at 6:00 AM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 06:00:50-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Dozens of curious Hoosiers flocked to Indianapolis’ Union Station in April 1986, hoping to get a firsthand glimpse of the building’s massive renovation which had been years in the making.

Indianapolis’ Union Station was the first Union Station in the nation. A group of private railroad companies banded together to form the Indianapolis Union Railway Co., which completed the station in 1853.

At its peak, 200 trains passed through the station every day.

However, by the late 1970s, the station had fallen into disrepair.

Private developers tried but failed to raise the money needed for repairs to the building.

The City of Indianapolis, along with developer Robert Borns, unveiled plans for a renovated Union Station in January 1983. Plans called for the creation of a festival marketplace that would include shops, restaurants, bars and a hotel.

Funding for the project would come from both the public and private sectors.

After years of extensive renovations, Union Station was once again ready to welcome the masses in April 1986.

Crews were frantically rushing to put the finishing touches on the project in the days leading up to the opening.

The Union Station festival marketplace opened its doors on April 26, 1986.

Some 500 thousand visitors visited the station in the first week alone according to Borns.

Union Station enjoyed a decade of success until the crowds began to dwindle in the mid-1990s when the Circle Centre Mall opened its doors.