A look inside San Diego’s old Santa Fe Depot.

Approaching the front of Union Station in San Diego.
Approaching the front entrance of Union Station in San Diego.

Walking into San Diego’s Union Station, more commonly called Santa Fe Depot, is like walking into the past. Or through some airy, sacred, vaulted cathedral.

The old train station seems utterly enormous when contrasted with the actual role that it plays in modern San Diego. Sure, it’s a reasonably important transportation hub, serving two lines of the San Diego trolley, plus the Amtrak Surfliner and Coaster trains. But today it seems to me more like a living memorial to a time long ago, when trains were a central feature of American life.

Here are a few cool photos of the Santa Fe Depot’s somewhat sparse but elegant interior. I love the tile work on the walls, the huge glowing windows, the beams in the arched ceiling…but most of all the classic long polished wooden benches. Whenever I walk through I feel like sitting down with the waiting passengers and pretending I’m off on some exciting transcontinental voyage.

Many years ago the depot held a large model of the USS Midway aircraft carrier under glass; I remember seeing that it was moved over to Petco Park. If memory serves, there was also a small pinball and video game arcade off to one side, by an exit to Kettner Boulevard.

Plaque dates Santa Fe Depot from 1915.
Plaque dates Santa Fe Depot from 1915.

The above plaque is just outside the main entrance.

A look inside the large train station in downtown San Diego.
A look inside the large train station in downtown San Diego.
A cool photo of the arched ceiling of Union Station.
A cool photo of the arched ceiling of Union Station.
Looking back toward the front entrance from inside.
Looking back toward the front entrance from inside.
Coaster train can be seen waiting outside on one track.
Coaster train can be seen waiting outside on one track.
Blue and orange tiles form classic Santa Fe design.
Blue and orange tiles form classic Santa Fe design.

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Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

4 thoughts on “A look inside San Diego’s old Santa Fe Depot.”

    1. I think the huge USS Midway model is still in Petco Park, down where people can test their pitching arms and where pets are adopted during games, but I’m not sure. If so, it’s a pity. When it was on public display in the Santa Fe Depot, anybody could just wander in and enjoy it.

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