Memphis' Central Station was once the heart of the city, serving as the main passenger rail hub for the region. With so much activity streaming in and out, the station quickly became the economic pulse of Memphis, fueling the construction of hotels, retail stores, and restaurants nearby. Built in 1914 by the Illinois Central Railroad, the station also housed the headquarters of several railway companies and other offices.
Central Station was designed by legendary Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, who also drew up the blueprints for Washington, D.C.'s Union Station and was architect of the World's Fair in Chicago.
But all good things come to an end. As the years rolled on, Central Station began to deteriorate and eventually stood vacant for several decades. In 1995, the city of Memphis scooped up the property from the railroad and assigned it to the Memphis Area Transit Authority.
The authority tapped a noted developer of historic properties, The Alexander Co. of Madison, Wis., and several other historic preservation groups to redevelop and restore Central Station to its former glory and add residential component as well.
The Alexander Co. took special care in maintaining the structure's rich history and unique architectural elements. The building's Main Hall was restored, including its original arrival and departure board. The total cost for revitalizing the property was about $18.7 million, according to The Alexander Co., and reconstruction was completed in September 1999. Central Station now features 63 apartment residences and 35,000 square feet of commercial space.
Residential units range in size from 725 square feet to 1,363 square feet and offers modern amenities including high-speed Internet access and air conditioning. Other amenities include a rooftop garden and large windows. For residents who love the rails, Central Station still serves as an Amtrak station.