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Union Station at Minute Maid Park

Collections, Houston & Texas History

Today marks the last day of the Houston Astros‘ season, one that will go down as the team’s worst season to date regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game.  It was a season that was historic in a way that teams don’t like to brag about, and as a relatively new team — they played their first season as the Houston Colt .45s in 1962 — the Astros don’t have a lot of history to look back on.

A postcard of Union Station in Houston long before the Astros started playing baseball on the grounds.

One aspect of the team that is worth talking about is the history that lives on in its 11-year-old ballpark. That’s right, history in a ball park that hasn’t even reached its adolescence. Most fans outside of Houston know the stadium as Minute Maid Park (or, in it’s former life, Enron Field), but the locals also know it as the Ballpark at Union Station. That’s because the stadium was built on the site of Union Station, a railway station located at Crawford Street between Texas Avenue and Congress Avenue that was dedicated on March 2, 1911. The railroad was vital to Houston’s growth and development, and Union Station was a key factor.  Today, what was the station’s main concourse is now both the main entrance to the stadium and home to a conference center and executive offices. Astros team officials say that approximately 60 percent of fans enter the stadium through the Union Station lobby.

Union Station, 1925

An aerial view of Union Station looking west over the city.

UH Special Collections holds photographs and illustrations of the original Union Station in the George Fuermann “Texas and Houston” Collection, which you see in this post, and which are also a part of the UH Digital Library. For a view of what Union Station looks like today, check out this picture from Wikimedia Commons.

If you’d like to know more about the renovation of Union Station as part of the building of the stadium, take a look at this article from the Houston Railroad Museum.

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