This photograph shows the George Washington leaving the recently completed Art Deco railroad station, Cincinnati Union Terminal. The George Washington was built in 1932 by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of President George Washington. It was the first air-cooled sleeping car train. This photograph was taken by Paul Briol, one of Cincinnati’s most significant twentieth-century photographers, and measures 8” x 10” (20.32 x 26.04 cm).
Cincinnati’s Art Deco-style railroad terminal building, now the home of Cincinnati Museum Center, was dedicated on March 31, 1933. Union Terminal was first proposed in the early part of the twentieth century as a solution to the chaotic existing railroad system, which consisted of seven lines operating out of five stations. During World War II, Cincinnati Union Terminal experienced unprecedented success. As a major transfer point for soldiers, the station served as many as 20,000 passengers on some days. But in the 1950s, the sudden expansion of interstate highways and airlines led to the rapid decline of the railroad industry. By the early 1970s, only two trains a day passed through Union Terminal and in 1972, train service was halted completely. In November 1990, Cincinnati Union Terminal reopened as the Museum Center, an educational and cultural complex featuring the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, the Cincinnati Historical Society Museum and Library, and the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX Theater.