Landmark station still a work in progress as California Zephyr returns.
After being shunted to the cinderblock ignominy of a temporary station in Denver for three long years as Denver’s historic Union Station is remade into an multi-modal transportation hub, restaurant cluster and hotel, Amtrak’s California Zephyr is returning to Union Station with the first eastbound departure this evening, Friday, February 28 at 7:10 p.m. — if it is not delayed. And, of course, during the 133-year-old’s station reconstruction, it is moving to yet another temporary location.
The first westbound departure is scheduled for 8:05 a.m. Part of me wants to take a train trip from Denver to San Francisco someday, but the train doesn’t really go to San Francisco but rather to Oakland — and the trip takes 51 hours even without delays. So maybe not for me after all.
Still, I celebrate the return of Amtrak even as I doubt I will bother. I’ll save my train lust for Europe and visit Union Station to eat.
When I moved to Colorado in 1988, I used to call Denver a “pretend city,” because the sidewalks were rolled up after 6 p.m. No more. Denver is alive and lively, thanks in large part to preservationist Dana Crawford, whose credentials include restoring the Oxford Hotel, Denver’s oldest, and reviving Larimer Square. The hotel to be built in what had been upstairs offices in Union Station, Denver’s landmark railroad terminal, will be called The Crawford Hotel in her honor. Fittingly, she is working on Union Station’s $50 million redevelopment to transform the historic station along with its immediate surroundings into a vibrant, contemporary center for luxury lodging, dining and intermodal transportation.
The Crawford Hotel, which is being developed and will be operated by Denver-based Sage Hospitality Group, is scheduled to open on July 11 with 112 rooms and 3,000 square feet of meeting space, plus 22,000 square feet of retail and dining space below on the main floor. Some of Denver’s top restaurateurs have already committed to the renewed Union Station, so expect the likes of the Kitchen Nextdoor, Snooze and S&G Fish, a new as-yet-unnamed venture by the Rioja/Euclid Hall/Bistro Vendôme team of Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch.
WordPress is giving me grief, so here are the links I would have embedded into my post if it had let me: