Savannah Then and Now: Union Station

Then and Now

Photos: Courtesy of the Georgia Historical Society

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The City of Savannah looks much different than it did when it was founded back in 1733. WSAV is taking a closer look at some of the city’s most iconic locations and how they’ve changed over time.

This week, we’re showcasing Savannah’s Union Station.

Union Station was a grand passenger train station that was built around 1900. It sat on what was then W. Broad Street and is now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The station featured Spanish Renaissance and Elizabethan styles with a massive octagonal rotunda inside.

Luciana Spracher, Municipal Archives Director for the City of Savannah, says W. Broad Street around Union Station was an extremely active, commercial area. Union Station and its surroundings became known as an economic and cultural hub for the African American community in Savannah. In the early 1900’s, it was buzzing with activity, similar to Broughton Street today.

By the 1960’s, Union Station was facing multiple issues. The train companies wanted to rebuild parts of the station to allow trains to come in more smoothly. The City also wanted to bring the interstate in closer and revive the area.

“You had all these things sort of collide at the same time,” Spracher said.

NOTE: Images may not be copied or used without permission from the Georgia Historical Society.

Union Station ended up being torn down, and the I-16 flyover took its place. Savannah Station, the Amtrak station, was built on Seaboard Coastline Drive in 1962.

Spracher says the I-16 flyover created not just a visual barrier, but also a physical divide of both the street and the community in the area.

“To me, it’s really our worst loss, because we could really use a building like that as an anchor off of MLK for revitalization purposes,” Spracher said. “This whole change happened in an instant. It really changed the whole community.”

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