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Union Station celebrates 100 years

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Union Station is so much more than tracks and trains. For many, stepping onto this platform was their first glimpse of Utica. It's a place that's seen 100 years of hellos and goodbyes.

"Every war men have deployed from this train station and the sad part about it is, I bet there's a lot of them that never came back, you know. It's almost like a memorial to a lot of people that have passed through here so it's very important to keep things like this open," said Leo Gilman, who took over the Union Station Barber Shop three years ago.

The barber shop is one of the oldest in the state and one of only three train station barber shops in the country. The other two are in Chicago and Washington D.C. Years ago, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash sat in the same seats still inside Union Station and the history doesn't stop there.

"Presidents have come right through here. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry Truman," said Gilman.

But, history was almost cut short when the building badly deteriorated after World War II and was planned for demolition.

"The tragedy would've been if the wrecking ball succeeded. The county government stepped up then and we need to continue to do that," said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.

This year $800,000 from the state and the county will go into fixin up the public market Rail Express Agency wing, ensuring the station will remain a vital part of the city.

"Reconstruction, solidifying it, gutting the interior. If you look at the first part of it you can see what we've done so far and how the rest needs to be redone because it's another historic landmark that really can be put to great use," said Picente.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente and the National Historic Railroad Society unveiled shiny, new plaques Thursday in celebration of the station's centennial and with the hope that these marble pillars will stand and the old familiar train whistle will blow for 100 more years to come.

Centennial Celebrations on Saturday, May 31:

-The Public Market will include a live appearance by WUTQ (10:00 a.m. To 12:00 p.m.)

-The Adirondack Scenic Railroad will also rides into the Utica Marsh and tours of their private cars

-Steam Engine Dance Gala (6:30 p.m. To 11:00 p.m.)
Tickets are available at the Stanley Theatre Box and all proceeds go to benefit the Landmark Society.

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