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The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

Union Station tragedy

I thought maybe I’d wait until June to mention this, but Dave Rasdal’s story in today’s paper about the guy building a Union Station replica makes it a good time to bring it up. The above picture is of the station, viewed from the southwest on Fourth Avenue SE.

The month of June will mark the 47th anniversary of the station’s demolition. It was built in 1897 and eventually stretched from Third to Fifth Avenues SE, facing Greene Square Park. Fourth Avenue ran right up to the main entrance, as you can see.

Passenger rail service was discontinued in 1958, the Gothic Revival station “fell out of favor,” Rasdal writes, and it was torn down. Simple as that. Now we’ve got two giant parking garages sitting in its place. Fantastic. I wonder who was responsible for this decision.

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3 Responses

  1. Stacie says:

    Take a look at who was on the City Council during that time – they were ultimately the approving party to this tradegy. Not a very great legacy for the city I’d say.

  2. Steve says:

    The answer to your question: The same sort of people who are in charge today. It is the legacy of this city, if you want new and modern and want to forget about the past, tear it down. If you don’t want to take responsibility for the distruction, do like what was happening on Third Street, let the truck traffic do it for you.
    You might notice the building zoo at Seminole Valley Park, it is Cedar Rapids’ resting place for anything left of the cities heritage. Anything that could easily be loaded on a truck and moved out there you might be lucky enough to find. The rest, well its probably helping to hold up Mount Trashmore, its legacy is seeping out of the methane and oozing through the sides of the huge garbage pile.
    One very recent example: our fifty year old baseball stadium, gone. Replaced by a yuppie infused, high dollar, multiplex sort of entertainment center. Don’t forget the recent discussion as to where to place a larger outdoor venue for entertainment was centered on distruction of the Roosevelt Hotel. And what is happening in Oakhill-Jackson and the near South-East side? It certainly doesn’t appear to be going to any great lengths to save anything that is old and not particularily easy to turn into loft apartments. Even in the effort to “save” these structures can all but distroy the character of the buildings.
    When looking at what we do save it brings into question what are we trying to tell future generations? Brucemore with its broad lawn and imposing victorian exterior hardly represents what most lived in. Where are the representative places of working people from that period; the homes of the people who made the Douglas family the money to create such opulance? If they missed the truck for Seminole Valley, then they too are creating the whisps of smell coming from that huge pile downtown.

  3. JACK CHAPMAN says:

    YES, THE TWO UGLY PARKING GARAGES TRADE FOR THE GORGEOUS LATE LAMENTED UNION STATION, WHICH SHOULD HAVE BECOME THE LIBRARY OR THE ART OR HISTORY MUSEUM.

    A CONTINUING USUAL AND STUPIDLY TYPICAL SORT OF DECISION FROM THE CITY FATHERS THERE IN BABBITTVILLE, USA. IT’S WHAT THEY CONSISTENTLY DO BEST FOR THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT, SADLY, YEAR AFTER YEAR.

    TO QUOTE FROM CARL VAN VECHTEN IN HIS ‘TATOOED COUNTESS’, “HAVE YOU SEEN OUR NEW WATER PLANT YET?”

    HO HUM.

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