Amarillo: Santa Fe Hotel
Brownwood: Santa Fe Eating House
Canadian: Santa Fe Eating House
Cleburne: Santa Fe Eating House
Dallas: Santa Fe Eating House
El Paso: Union Passenger Station Restaurant and Shops
Fort Worth: Santa Fe Eating House
Gainesville: Santa Fe Eating House
Texas photo archives: University of Arizona Fred Harvey Collection
El Paso’s Union Station is west of downtown and the Civic Center and very close to the Rio Grande. It is just south of Interstate 10 between exits 18B & 19, and just north of West Paisano Drive. South Coldwell Street and West San Francisco Avenue meet at the parking lot.
In this pair of images, you can see that several of the tracks closest to the station have been replaced by a parking lot. Amtrak passengers come out the north entrance seen on the right and cross this parking lot to get to the train.
The total cost for the structure was $260,000, and on opening night in February 1906, more than 10,000 persons arrived to admire downtown’s new landmark.
In addition to seeing dozens of trains pass through every day, the depot’s second floor featured a Harvey House restaurant, part of a famous chain of eateries associated with the ATSF. Known for gracious service and fine meals, the dining room was at the top of the city’s culinary scene, remembered fondly for the lobster and raw oysters shipped by rail.
By the 1940s, the popular appeal of Southwestern architecture had taken hold in El Paso, and a women’s group advocated for the remodeling of the station in a “regionally appropriate” style. Subsequently, the bell tower’s steeple was removed and the red brick was covered with cream colored stucco.
The depot was shuttered in 1974 and put up for sale the next year. In time, the city decided to purchase the structure for $925,000 to house its local transit system, Sun Metro. Restoration began in 1982. Paint was removed from the brick, the tower’s spire was rebuilt, woodwork was cleaned, and marble imported from Italy was used to reface the wainscoting of the waiting room. [From The Great American Stations]
One attraction of the depot was the establishment of the Harvey House restaurant operated by Ms. Annie Burns on the second floor. El Paso's Harvey House was considered one of the city's finer restaurants. Old-timers remembered the Harvey House as the best place for a young man to take his girl for dinner. The restaurant was known for serving dishes like raw oysters, artichokes and lobster. [From Borderlands]
Due to the high ceiling waiting room, I do not see any place wide enough on the second floor for a restaurant. There is a one story wing extending from the SW corner, seen to the left in the modern picture, which has not only stained glass windows, but a large chimney nearby. Why is it so hard to find evidence of one of a large city’s finer and most popular restaurants?
The area west of [behind] the station is Sun Metro’s mass transit parking lot, and the security guard would not let me in to take a quick photo. A spot near an I-10 off-ramp north of the tracks looking into the morning sun was as close as I could get to this commonly seen view. Obviously, there are no longer any tracks behind the station.
Bottom half of postcard showing waiting room, facing north
Photo taken through south door facing north, 2011
It was Sunday morning and the building was locked, but decent shots could be taken through the door windows. The north doors led to the passenger tracks. The Harvey shops were just to the left of the doorway, though do not seem to be present in the postcard view. The news stand was the closest to the doors, where the wood-framed windows are today, and the Indian Curio Shop further to the left. Presumably, those are the ticket windows in the left wall of the old photo. The front entrance with the grand porch is to the right.
Unfortunately, the University of Arizona’s archive does not show any pictures of a Harvey restaurant.
The well-preserved depot is located just east of downtown on North Lindsay Street, sandwiched between East Broadway and East California Streets.
A historical marker on the building says, in part: “This depot was built about 1902 to handle increased traffic on the Gulf, Colorado, and Sante Fe Railroad. The red brick structure contained a Harvey House Restaurant until 1931.”
The park to the west is no longer there, so it is only possible to get a photo from Lindsay Street. The near end was the baggage section. The Lunch Room was in the section under the second story, which was the Harvey Girl residences. The manager had the fancy apartment on the end.
Since the two postcards show the same side looking from the south, I am giving a view of the other side looking from the north. There is actually a nice park on the east side, like what used to be on the west side. The modern view shows the old kitchen in the foreground, which is now partly the Amtrak waiting room and restrooms.
There is a museum in this building featuring local history, such as the Gainesville Community Circus in the baggage section, and the depot’s history in the Lunch Room. You can see the outline of the U-shaped Lunch Counter on the concrete floor. Ascending the old stairs by the kitchen, you can go up to see a restored Harvey Girl room.
I do not know of a web site for the museum, and it is hard to find it open.