Ten ThousandVisions




The Train Station

By Michael Divine on May 29th, 2007

They say it is “a beautiful blend of art deco and Mexican hacienda, modern style and old world charm.” And I would have to say there is also a fair bit of Arts and Crafts style, which, I think, incorporates bits of all of those. I love train stations.

Airports receive a sterilized design treatment. They are way stations of the modern age, not meant to appreciated so much as utilized and in our utilitarian sense, we begin to forget that style itself is as useful an element as, say, the ease of picking up your luggage. On the other end of the travel spectrum, we have the bus stations which are, more often than not, dirty seedy places to whcih the cheapest travelers are relegated. Bus stations brim with suspicious characters, a liberal coating of grime and exhaust particulate, and a general air of I-can’t-wait-to-get-the-hell-out-of-here.

But the immaculatness of the train station. The beauty. The grandeur! Train stations are works of art. There is a sanctity to the train station. A church like ambiance with it’s long tall halls and sequential seating. This, we think, is surely what purgatory must be like. No one envisions purgatory as a bus station or an airport.

Train stations have an attention to detail, a nuance of style, and a craftsmanship about them. Note the fine tile work along the walls, the patterns painted on the ceiling between the massive wooden archways of post and beam architecture. I think of the great train stations: Grand Central Station in NYC where the zodiac adorns the cathedral-like ceiling and marble lines the corners and the outside is a sculptural masterpiece. Then, here where I sit right now, Union Station in Los Angeles, with it’s art deco hacienda style. I think even of that little train station in New Haven, CT or some of the others I have seen over the years as I’ve traveled around the country. Even the newer stations with their steel and brick style have a grace and elegance to them.

I remember some time back being in Milford, CT after visiting my parents. While waiting for the train to whiz me back to NYC and then to the airport, there was a little boy whose mother had decided to take him for a train ride. HE WAS GOING FOR A TRAIN RIDE. Are you going on the train? I can’t wait to see the train. Here it comes now! Oh boy! And everyone around him couldn’t help but smile and enjoy themselves just a little bit more because he expressed what we all feel- that there is still a kind of magic that exists in the train and it’s the little kid in us that enjoys it the most.

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