Established and built between 1898 and 1903, during the prime years of railroad stations in the United States, the now known Penn Station (short for Pennsylvania Station) was created to serve the needs of a number of various railroad lines by having a central terminal for their use, the reason why it was originally named Union Station.
This historic train station, situated at Grant Street and Liberty Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, connected the Pennsylvania Railroad with other subsidiary lines, therefore, to match the name of other Pennsylvania Stations, the Union Station was renamed to Penn Station in 1912.
Daniel Burnham, a noted Chicago architect known for his works such as that of Flatiron in New York, Union Station in Washington, D.C. and a number of buildings featured in the 1893 World?s Columbian Exhibition held in Chicago, designed the building on the station.
The materials used on the structure were a grayish-brown terra cotta (clay-based unglazed ceramic) that appeared like brownstone (brown Triassic sandstone), and bricks. The most extraordinary yet outstanding feature of this colossal train station, according to many architecture enthusiasts, is the rotunda with corner pavilions, which functioned as a waiting area for passengers. At street level, the rotunda housed turning areas (covered by wide low vaults) for carriages that drop off or pick up passengers. This rotunda is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Common to many railroad stations of that period, the Penn Station also has a tall railroad hotel as part of the design.
Due to a public outcry and deterioration, the Penn Station underwent a major restoration in the mid-1980s and converted the old railroad hotel into residential apartments now commonly known as The Pennsylvanian. The apartment became available for the renting and buying public on May 23, 1988. The open space, which is no longer accessible to the public, was renewed to become a lobby for commercial spaces on the ground floor and the great central skylight was cleaned.
The Penn Station remains active in carrying on its original purpose and is still an active railway station, although through a smaller passenger area along the Liberty Avenue side of the station. It serves as the westernmost finishing point of the route of the Amtrak's Pennsylvanian (which passes through the state of Pennsylvania) and is along the Capitol Limited route (which travels to Washington D.C.) accessible to the locals of Pittsburgh.
Aside from the Pennsylvanian and Capitol Limited, the city of Pittsburgh was also served by the Three Rivers. The Three Rivers is a replacement service for the legendary Broadway Limited that terminated in Chicago. Upon its cancellation in 2005, it marked the first time in the history of the city of Pittsburgh to be served by only two daily passenger trains.