Location: On Louisiana street, between Illinois and Meridian streets.
The eleven railways centering in this city, all converge in the Union Depot. No equal convenience of a like character is found anywhere else in this country. The ends of the earth, so to speak, are here brought into connection under one roof, and long transfers from one depot to another, involving expense, inconvenience and delay, are avoided.
The building, and so much of the tracks leading into it as lie within the city limits, belong to the Union Railway Company; that is, to an association composed of the following railway companies: Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis; Terre Haute & Indianapolis; Bellefontaine; Indianapolis & Cincinnati; Indiana Central. The remaining six companies occupy the depot as tenants.
The Union Railway Company was formed in 1850, and was at that time composed of the Madison & Indianapolis, Bellefountaine, and Terre Haute & Richmond Companies; of which John Brough, Oliver H. Smith and Chauncey Rose were, respectively, the Presidents. These three men, since famous in history, and of whom Mr. Rose alone is yet living, were thus the founders of the Union Depot.
Gen. T. A. Morris, as Chief Engineer, superintended the erection of the building, which was completed in 1858. At that time only the Madison, Bellefontaine, Terre Haute, and Peru Railways were in operation. Soon after the Indianapolis & Cincinnati, and the Indiana Central Railways were admitted into the association, and therefore into the Depot. The Indianapolis & Peru Company never had any interest in the Depot, and but a slight interest in the racks, which it subsequently sold to the association. The Lafayette & Indianapolis Company was admitted, with tenant rights, in 1854; the Jeffersonville & Indianapolis Company in 1855; The Cincinnati & Indianapolis Junction in 1858; the Indianapolis Bloomington & Western, and the Indianapolis & Vincennes in 1869; and the Indianapolis & St. Louis in 1870.
Mr. William N. Jackson, Secretary and Treasurer of the Union Railway Company, has had charge of the Union Depot ever since its opening in September, 1853.
The dimensions of the building are four hundred and twenty by two hundred feet.
The expansion of our railway system has greatly exceeded even the liberal anticipations of the projectors and founders of the Union Depot; and extensive as are its provisions, it has grown to be insufficient for the great demands upon it. Its available space is entirely taken up by the net-work of tracks of which it is the focus--presenting at times, during the day, a scene of apparent confusion very like a tangle skein, having neither beginning or end to it, but which the care and efficiency of its management always unravels in good order. The number of trains daily arriving in, and departing from, the Union Depot now averages about seventy-six, many of them of great length. It is estimated that the annual number of arrivals and departures of passengers at this depot amounts to two millions.
But, as before remaked [sic?], the demands upon the Depot have outgrown its capacities, large as they are, and the want of room entails greatly increased responsibilities upon the management.
The erection of a similar building and on a larger scale, now urgently demanded, must ere long become a necessity, if the great convenience of one passenger depot for all our railway lines is to be continued.
The cost of the site and improvements of the Union Depot property has been about $275,000.
Holloway, W. R., Indianapolis, a Historical and Statistical Sketch of the Railroad City, a Chronicle of Its Social, Municipal, Commercial and Manufacturing Progress, with Full Statistical Tables, © 1870, pp. 258-259.