Denver's emergence as the metropolis of the Rockies is directly related to its role as the regional rail hub. When the transcontinental railroad chose Cheyenne and not Denver as its gateway to the west, Denverites rallied. Civic leaders such as Governor John Evans, Walter Scott Cheeseman, William J. Palmer and David Holliday Moffat, Jr. knew Denver would not survive without a railroad. Coloradans raised $300,000 in three days to build a 106-mile rail link to connect Denver with Cheyenne. At the ground breaking, Denverites celebrated more than a railroad. They were welcoming a vital link to commerce and industry that would ensure their city's future.
Union Station was first opened in 1881 to consolidate passenger service for Denver's expanding railroads. Destroyed in 1894 by fire, Union Station's central lobby was rebuilt and then enlarged in 1914. Prominently located at the terminus of 18th street, Union Station to this day is the focal point of the Lower Downtown District.
With the building of Union Station, 18th Street gained prominence as the premiere location for many of Denver's office buildings, banks, and hotels of which the Oxford, Barth and Brown Palace survive.
Union Station and its surrounding landmarks are the heart of Denver and gracious hallmarks of why Denver became the Queen City of the mountains and plains.