Denver's Union Station Sees New Life
Like many major cities across the United States, in the 1980s downtown Denver suffered from severe blight, and many historic structures were boarded up and abandoned. Preservationists watched in horror as close to 20 percent of the area’s structures were bulldozed for – you guessed it – parking lots.
Snapping into action, a development authority was formed and efforts to save the remaining buildings were planned. One of those people leading the charge was preservationist Dana Crawford, who is largely responsible for seeing the city go from Skid Row to trendy LoDo, as it’s now known. Crawford led restoration of the Oxford Hotel, rehabilitated Larimer Square and took the reigns of the redevelopment and renovation of Union Station.
The 125,000-square-foot train station once served as one of the nation’s busiest transportation hubs, especially during the Silver Boom and times of war. It was in the '80s that the building became not only an eyesore, but dangerous. Today, Union Station is home to restaurants and specialty shops and its crowning jewel: a 112-room boutique hotel aptly named The Crawford.
“Dana Crawford deserves this honor. She started historic redevelopment before it was popular, she’s had her hand in so many great Denver restorations, including Larimer Square, The Oxford Hotel and now Union Station,” said Walter Isenberg, CEO and President of Sage Hospitality. “The design of The Crawford Hotel honors the great history of the train station, while providing a modern luxury that is new and exciting. It’s an amazing combination, reflective of the work Dana’s done for our city.”
Because so many existing elements of the structure were used in the redevelopment and design, the project earns the distinction of “green.” Named to the National Register of Historic Places, Denver Union Station expects to achieve LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The hotel itself is an eclectic mix of styles with nods to the original beaux arts theme as well as art deco influences seen in the lighting and other architectural details. And while each room is unique, the different floors are themed: The "Pullman-style" rooms evoke train travel in its prime, offering a modern take on glamorous private sleeping cars a la The Orient Express. "Classic" guest rooms boast high ceilings and large windows and were inspired by the building’s Victorian-era beginnings, but with a modern flair. The "loft" rooms are located in the former attic and feature exposed beams and high vaulted ceilings.
Rooms are decorated with eclectic taxidermy such as friendly jackalopes as well as prints depicting Union Station in its prime. Also on display on site are a number of objects found during the renovation. These items include train tickets, pieces of luggage and original architectural renderings.
There are also many great dining options such as Snooze for breakfast, Pigtrain for coffee, Stoic & Genuine for fancy eats or Acme Burger & Brats for something a little more laid back. We’re personally excited about the Terminal Bar, which is located on the East side of the Great Hall of the renovated and restored Union Station. It features the original ticket windows and a huge outdoor patio overlooking Wynkoop Street.
In 2016, Union Station will be accessible to the elusive Denver International Airport, which almost tops the cocktail lounge – almost. More photos are details can be seen at The Crawford Hotel's website.