Remembering Atlanta’s Railroad Stations of Yesteryear (And One From Today)

Horace Bradley created this wood engraving depicting the commercial heart of Atlanta; it appeared in Harper’s Weekly on February 12, 1887. (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

ATLANTA — The Atlanta community is perpetually discussing building a new multi-modal transit station.

The City Too Busy to Hate currently has one passenger station in use, serving Amtrak’s Crescent train running between New York and New Orleans. But, the city has a long history with passenger stations.

Here is a brief overview of the city’s major train stations of the past — and one still in use:

Union Depot (1845–1853)

Atlanta in 1856
This 1910-era postcard depicts the city during this era and shows Atlanta’s first train station, which the Western & Atlantic and Georgia railroads used. (Courtesy Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution)

The Western & Atlantic and Georgia railroads shared a small depot in Atlanta starting circa 1845.

Union Depot (1853–1864)

Edward Arista Vincent is credited with designing Atlanta’s Union Station. The depot stood in State Square, which was the central square of Atlanta in the days before the Civil War. The station opened circa 1853 and also served the Georgia, Macon & Western and Atlanta & West Point railroads.

Union troops under Gen. William T. Sherman burned the depot in 1864 before leaving the city on their famous March to the Sea.

Union Station (1871-1930)

Architect Max Corput designed the city’s second train station, built on the site of its 1853 predecessor. Built in Second Empire style, the depot opened in 1871 but was regularly maligned by the turn of the 20th century. In 1905, several railroads abandoned the station in favor of the new Terminal Station.

In a 1901 article, The Atlanta Constitution noted, “There is only just room enough in the shed for truck-men and switch engines, but there is little provision for the traveling public, and it is a case of every man for himself. In order to reach the outside tracks a person unacquainted with the depot has just crossed five tracks and says he thanks his good fortune that he escaped with no more serious damage than a few grease spots on his clothing. Pandemonium reigns.”

Terminal Station (1905-1970)

Atlanta Terminal Station opened in 1905 and remained in service until June 1970. It was razed in 1972. (Railfanning.org Digital Collection)

Terminal Station opened in 1905 as the second station in Atlanta but was actually the larger of the two. The station served Southern Railway, Seaboard Coast Line, Central of Georgia and Atlanta & West Point railroads.

Architect P. Thornton Marye designed the station. His firm also designed two other Atlanta landmarks: the Fox Theater and Capital City Club.

The station closed in June 1970 and was razed the following year. The Richard B. Russell Federal Building, built in 1979, stands in its place.

Union Station (1930-1970)

1930 Union Station
A postcard of the 1930 Union Station in Atlanta. (Railfanning.org Digital Collection)

The third Union Depot (or Station) opened on April 18, 1930. Atlanta Mayor I.N. Ragsdale and A.J. Woodruff, vice chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission, were among the dignitaries to greet a train carrying a private care with Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis President J.B. Hill and the railroad’s board of directors.

Once the new station opened, Atlanta building inspector C.J. Bowen on April 19, 1930, issued a permit to raze the Union Station building erected in 1871.

Brookwood Station (1918-Present)

Peachtree Station in Atlanta
Peachtree Station, also known as Brookwood Station, in Atlanta as seen on April 22, 2015. Designed by architect Neel Reid, the station was built in 1918 as a commuter stop for Southern Railway. When Terminal Station closed in 1970, Peachtree Station became the only passenger station in Atlanta. Amtrak starting using the station when it took over operation of the Crescent from Southern in 1979. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

Architect Neel Reid designed the current Amtrak station in Atlanta. Southern Railway built the station in 1918 as a commuter stop.

When Terminal Station closed in 1970, Peachtree Station became the only passenger station in Atlanta. Amtrak starting using the station when it took over operation of the Crescent from Southern in 1979.

Todd DeFeo
About Todd DeFeo 338 Articles
Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits Express Telegraph and The Travel Trolley.