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Has Anybody Modeled a Modern Depot?

April 30, 2010

Jack London Square Amtrak Station

Sure, Walthers Came out with the downright hideous 1970’s “Amshack” citadel of brutalist architecture. However, what about the flood of architect-designed depots built for Amtrak since 1990? Along the Capitol Corridor in California, a few notable depots have been built to serve the communities that have shifted their population centers away from the original depots. Oakland’s massive 16th street depot was damaged in an earthquake back in 1989, and as a result, the SP, Cal-trans and Amtrak worked together to build the really remarkable little depot at Jack London Square. Stations have popped up along the route, Emeryville has a throughly modern new depot of surprising size, as does Martinez.

These nice, modern depots see plenty of train traffic daily, and with the wide, ADA accessible platforms, large pedestrian bridges straddling the mainlines, and a variety of traditional touches (They still use old SP baggage carts at Jack London) it makes for an appealing subject to model….so why doesn’t anybody bother? They’re nice depots in their own right and they’re certainly prototypical.

Yes, they’re not the original depots of yesteryear that we as railfans love almost instinctively. They’re not the ornate brick, concrete, stone or wood work of the Colonial, Victorian, Beaux Arts, Art Deco or Streamline Moderne of years past, but they hold their ground in their own right. Plus, with the pedestrian bridges, it would add another bit of interest few older depots (of the west at least) had. What say you, modeling world? Is it time to choose a more recent building design versus some creaky old Victorian, depot that’s been abused for over a century, most of it’s once ornate detail turning to splinters? (If it still is unrestored, that is!) Plus, in some cases, as with Martinez, the old 1870’s era depot still stands just across the street from the new, modern depot, so what’s not to lose?

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