Hundred year old photos of Santa Fe Depot.

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of San Diego's Santa Fe train depot!
Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of San Diego’s Santa Fe train depot!

I was walking around today when I noticed a large banner hanging above the entrance of downtown’s Santa Fe Depot. This year the historic train station and San Diego landmark turns one hundred years old!

A friendly gentleman inside the waiting room at the information booth gave me a flyer about a special event tomorrow. The public is invited to attend a celebration of the historic depot’s centennial! The festivities take place between 11 am and 1 pm. The address of the Santa Fe Depot Union Station is 1050 Kettner Boulevard, just north of Broadway in downtown San Diego. I will be working, so I’ll probably miss it.

In the past I’d thought about posting cool old photos of the depot, but now seems the appropriate time! Check out the following photographs that I found on Wikimedia Commons.

First, a little background on the depot, with a few details taken from an informative handout…

A fine example of the classic Spanish Mission-Colonial Revival style of architecture, including Moorish influences, the Santa Fe Depot is on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it lies at the southern terminus of the nation’s second-busiest Amtrak rail corridor. In addition to the Pacific Surfliner trains, it also serves as an important station for Coaster commuter trains and the San Diego Trolley.

Built by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, it opened on March 7, 1915. It replaced the California Southern Railway’s smaller 1887 Victorian depot. The beautiful new depot was designed to welcome rail travelers visiting the 1915 Panama-California International Exposition, which was staged in expansive Balboa Park, just northeast of downtown. You can see dozens of fantastic photos of Balboa Park from a century ago here.

The huge Santa Fe Depot waiting room is 170 feet long and 55 feet wide. The varnished oak benches are lit by 16 bronze and glass chandeliers. You can see pics of today’s interior here.

Old photo on today's information booth shows large waiting room as it was once configured, with ticket counters, checkroom and shops in wooden structures on the west side.
Old photo on today’s information booth shows large waiting room as it was once configured, with ticket counters, checkroom and shops in wooden structures on the west side.
Historical photograph of Santa Fe Depot's construction, dated August 17, 1914.
Historical photograph of Santa Fe Depot’s steel construction, dated August 17, 1914.
Santa Fe Railroad Station under construction beside the old 1887 Victorian depot. Photo dated September 3, 1914.
Santa Fe Railroad Station under construction beside the old 1887 Victorian depot, which stood on the other side of the tracks. Photo dated September 3, 1914.
Photo of the old depot tower being demolished in 1915.
Photo of the Victorian depot tower being demolished in 1915. A locomotive pulled the old tower over to great public fanfare.
Color postcard from around 1920 features inviting image of San Diego Union Depot.
Color postcard circa 1920 features inviting image of San Diego Union Depot.
The Santa Fe Depot as it appears today, with modern high-rise buildings nearby.
The handsome Santa Fe Depot as it appears today, with modern high-rise buildings nearby.

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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.

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