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The Railroad Stations of San Diego County
Then and Now
by James N. Price
Santa Fe Stations
History: San Diego's original Santa Fe depot was built in 1887, and it was replaced in 1915 by today's lovely mission-style building in time for the Panama Pacific Exposition. On the south end, the station originally had a large covered patio area that is now a parking lot. This depot has been in continual use for both passenger and freight traffic. In fact it served as a "Union Station" for both Santa Fe and the San Diego & Arizona for several decades. Santa Fe proposed to raze it in the early 1970s, but the building was saved by its addition to the National Historic Register in 1972. Santa Fe later, refurbished the building's interior. And on the occasion of the 100th year of the arrival of the first transcontinental train to San Diego (November, 1985), the Daughters of the American Revolution placed an historical plaque on the building in recognition of its value to the community.
Present Use: This building still serves as San Diego's rail passenger and freight depot, handling more than a dozen Amtrak and numerous non-passenger trains each day. In the future, Santa Fe plans to use it as the centerpiece in the development of a hotel and shopping complex.
Location. This distinctive and active railroad depot lies on the north side of Broadway at the corner of Kettner Avenue in downtown San Diego.
Front Cover: Downtown San Diego's elegant mission style railroad station as it looked shortly after its construction in 1915 (it replaced an earlier station built in 1887). The Santa Fe Railroad proposed to raze the building in the early 1970s, but it has since been restored. Courtesy San Diego History Center Title Insurance and Trust Collection