Union Station Stories Exhibit

Union Station Stories


YOU ARE INVITED TO STEP INTO THE PAST, walking in the footsteps of countless others, and experience the Union Station Stories – how the station came into existence, its heyday in the golden age of railroads, its eventual deterioration, and how it was saved and restored with the help of a remarkably passionate and dedicated citizenry. For many, this is a place filled with memories of life’s great moments: a first train ride, the hustle and bustle of station life, joyous reunions, sad farewells, and the beginning or end to personal journeys.

Today, Union Station has again become a cultural epicenter for Kansas City – a place where people come to create, connect, discover, and celebrate. You are now a part of the Union Station Story.

RELIVE 100 years of fascinating Union Station history.
EXPLORE Union Station Stories, the 5,000+ SQF permanent exhibit that exquisitely captures the rich and diverse cultural history of the Station through significant stories and beautiful artifacts.
LEARN 100-years of history in a rich, culturally diverse experience and Union Station’s role in the heart of Kansas City.

From Grand Hall, start at the staircase in the Southwest elevator vestibule and follow through Mezzanine levels 2 and 3. Afterward, proceed to the Northwest and Northeast corners of Grand Hall.


These objects were found behind walls, in closets, and behind ceiling cornices during the 1999 renovation, and provide a glimpse into the life of the original 1910-14 construction worker crews.

Photo from Union Station Stories Exhibit
Union Station History Video Thumbnail

100 years of History at Union Station

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Union Station Shoe Shiners Exhibit


In the golden years of rail travel, a man’s status (civilian and soldier) could be measured by the shine on his shoes.  Since many travelers were headed to important destinations, station shoeshine services were in high demand.  From the time Union Station opened, many grown men turned shoe shining into profitable businesses with shine stands in bus and train stations, hotels and nightclubs, ballparks and country clubs.

Come experience Shoe Shiners , the first addition to the Union Station Stories permanent history exhibit.

In the Northwest corner of Gand Hall, the exact space where enterprising men practiced their trade, Shoe Shiners feature stories and artifacts from their era.

Union Station’s shoeshine stand was located across from Men’s Smoking Room and just around the corner from the barbershop. With raised chairs on these tiered granite elevated platforms, the shoeshine stand was immediately popular with travelers and locals alike.

In the golden years of rail travel, a man’s status (Civilian and soldier) could be measured by the shine on his shoes. Since many train travelers were headed to important destinations, station shoeshine services were in high demand.

Photo From Show Shiners Exhibit

Made possible by a generous gift from the Michael R. and Marlys Haverty Family Foundation, this gallery features and celebrates art, artifacts and stories of the twelve railroads that joined together in 1906 (forming Kansas City Terminal Railway) to build Union Station.

Mike and Marlys Haverty — proud and enthusiastic supporters of Union Station since 1998 — have fundamentally shaped the success of this historic monument for our entire community and region to enjoy for many years to come. Their leadership, determination and philanthropic passion will be a lasting legacy and constant reminder of their countless good works.

Stop by and experience this impressive new gallery, the second addition to the Union Station Stories permanent history exhibit.

In the Northeast corner of Grand Hall.
RPO Exhibit


RPO: The Romance of Rail and Mail shows that before there was Amazon Prime or even UPS, the Railway Post Office delivered the mail across 19th and 20th century America with speed, dependability and efficiency unmatched anywhere in the world. Kansas City served as a major hub in the Railway Mail Service network and helped pioneer the technology innovations that would form the foundation for today’s shipping and logistics industry.

The exhibit features the tools of the daily trade used by RPO workers, including an original electric cart (dating from 1918) used to transport mail to and from rail cars at Union Station. It also includes personal stories, vintage video of workers in action, a practice sorting case, uniform elements, route maps, examples of real mail from the era and fascinating aspects of life on the rail. As historian Fred J. Romanski notes, “the Railway Mail Service bound the nation together by rail and precipitated the growth of commerce through the speed and dependability of its service. Business and commercial activity were pushed along in an environment where fast service, reliability, and a can-do attitude prevailed.”

Press Release

On the main floor of Union Station Station immediately adjacent to the current USPS office - further extends the nearly 5,000-square foot Union Station Stories history exhibit that opened to acclaim in 2014 on the 100th Anniversary of Union Station.
RPO Exhibit Image

RPO: The Romance of Rail and Mail - Opening

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