Cincinnati Museum Center1301 Western Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45203-1138
Cincinnati Museum Center
An iconic train station built from 1929- 1933, Cincinnati Union Terminal is a National Landmark and a wonderful example of Art Deco architecture.
An iconic train station built from 1929- 1933, Cincinnati Union Terminal is a National Landmark and a wonderful example of Art Deco architecture. Its rail lines were important during the Second World War, and many soldiers and refugees started new chapters of their lives once they entered the lobby. The land the building sits on the site of the first professional baseball team’s home field in 1867.
Cincinnati struggled for many years to acquire a train station. In the 1920s, the height of popularity for Art Deco designs, the city approved a new terminal. Alfred Fellheimer and Stewart Wagner were the primary architects of the structure, but the Art Deco design was heavily influenced by Paul Phillippe Cret and Ronald Wank. The exterior features curved lines, bas-relief carvings, and other intricate design features. The large carvings to the left and right of the entrance representant Transportation and Commerce, holding the globe in their hands.
The terminal’s interior is equally, if not more, impressive than its exterior. It features the largest half-dome in the western hemisphere with a striking bright orange circular pattern that fades to yellow on the ceiling. An original, large, two-piece mosaic mural by German-born Winold Reiss divides the walls from the rotunda and depicts the artist’s interpretation of the progressive history of Cincinnati. Other mosaics in the train concourse emphasize important local businesses, such as broadcasting, meatpacking, and steel manufacturing.
In 1973, Southern Railway purchased the building with plans to tear it down to expand their operations, but the Cincinnati City Council instead voted to name the Union Terminal a National Historic Landmark instead. From there, the building would undergo several revisions- from a shopping mall to its current use as a museum complex. Despite undergoing a lot of restoration, many of the building’s original elements were preserved and remain in the building.
Notes for Travelers
The Cincinnati Union Terminal is currently home to the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center. While visitors must buy tickets to enter these areas, the Cincinnati Union Terminal’s grounds and lobby are open to the public without any fees. The Cincinnati Museum Center contains free public exhibits, temporary and traveling exhibits, an OMNIMAX film theater, and three other museums.
Union Terminal also has two dining options that offers sandwiches, salads, flatbread pizzas, beverage, and snacks from 11 am to 3pm. However, if you’d like to pack food instead, lockers are available on a first-come, first-serve basis for only $1 a day.
Additional ResourcesStradling, David. Cincinnati: From River City to Highway Metropolis. Arcadia Publishing, 2003.
Yungblut, Gibson, Linda C. Rose, et al. Cincinnati Union Terminal: The Design and Construction of an Art Deco Masterpiece. Cincinnati: Cincinnati Railroad Club In, 1999.
Garner, Gretchen. Winold Reiss and the Cincinnati Union Terminal: Fanfare for the Common Man. Ohio University Press, 2016.