Anyone who has lived anywhere any length of time probably knows that feeling of sadness and loss when a beautiful but outdated structure is destroyed in the name of progress. The old building probably wasn’t up to modern codes and, often, the shiny new structure built in its place is bigger, taller, and capable of generating more tax dollars than the previous one.
Fortunately, though, sometimes a building is just too beautiful, too beloved, and has too much local historical significance to be touched by a wrecking ball. The Santa Fe Train Depot in downtown San Diego is such a structure. It is a jewel of a building surrounded by glass and steel high rises.
The station was officially opened in 1915, to welcome visitors to the Panama-California Exposition. The Depot’s Spanish Colonial Revival architecture was the same style as was used for the buildings at the Exposition.
Although the city lost its early battle to become the West Coast terminus of the Santa Fe Railway system’s transcontinental railroad to much larger Los Angeles, in its heyday, the facility handled Santa Fe train traffic and that of the San Diego and Arizona Railways. The Depot is still an active transportation center, providing not only train service but also service to the trolley and bus systems.
Oh, and speaking of structures being destroyed in the name of progress, the original train depot that had served San Diego for nearly three decades, was razed when the “modern” Santa Fe Depot opened for business. The old clock tower was pulled to the ground by a steel cable attached to two locomotives as part of the grand opening celebration on March 7, 1915.
Since the first National Train Day was held ten years ago today, on May 10, 2008, I thought it fitting to feature the Santa Fe Train Depot in my Thursday Doors post. To see other beautiful doors, choo-choo on over to Norm’s station and click on the ah-door-able blue frog.