Demolition of Terminal Station, 1972



After seven decades of activity, Terminal Station closed on June 15, 1970 (1). While freight rail remained vibrant, Atlanta’s passenger travel was shifting towards cars with the growing highway system and air as flying became more affordable. Terminal Station had experienced losses of over $1 million in recent years (2)(3).


The station had not been without change over the years, having it’s original grandeur reduced on two key occasions. In 1925, the enormous train shed behind the station, the second largest in the world and designed by Walter Harrison, was removed in favor of butterfly sheds. In 1940 following a lightening strike, the baroque bell towers that gave the station much of its palatial splendor were removed in favor of shorter and plainer ones, in hopes to avoid another strike (4).




When the station closed in 1970 there were no current plans for the land, only the decision that the train station was worn out and no longer needed. It remained empty for two years, until it was razed in 1972. The only remaining passenger trains serving Terminal Station at the time, Southern Railroad’s Piedmont and Southern Crescent, and Central of Georgia’s Nancy Hanks, were relocated, with the former two moving to the small Brookwood (often called Peachtree) station on the north side of the city, and the third operating out of a small freight facility on Spring Street (5). The land where Terminal Station once stood is now home to the Richard B. Russell Federal Building.





Some physical relics of the station remain scattered throughout Atlanta. A bronze statue of the first Souther Railroad president, Samuel Spencer, was designed by Daniel Chester French. This statue was considered a prototype for Chester’s later work, the Lincoln Memorial. Commissioned in 1909 and rededicated at Brookwood Station in 1970, it was moved again to the front of Norfolk Southern Headquarters at 1200 Peachtree Street in 2009 (6). The location of the bells from the station’s two towers are also still known. One went to the Bealy Smith family in Buckhead, who added it to their “Old Atlanta” installation in their garden along with a piece of architectural detail from the entrane to the station. The other bell is at the Southern Railway Museum in Washington, DC, where it is on display today (7).










[1]  Greene, F. (1970, June 14). Image of Terminal Station sign announcing closing date of June 15, part of album “Atlanta Terminal Station and the Southern Crescent”,
[2]  (1985, September 22). Trains. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, p. 5-H. Accessed at the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.
[3]  (1971, April 4). The Way of All Rails. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Accessed at the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.
[4]  Potter, J. G. (1996). “Great American Railroad Stations”. New York: Wiley & Sons, p. 543.
[5]  Cox, J. (2010). “Rails Across Dixie: A History of Passenger Trains in the American South”. Jefferson, NC: McFalrand & Company, Inc. Accessed thru Google Books.
[6]  Atlanta Public Art. (2008). “Samuel Spencer Relocation”.
[7]  Gwin, Y. (1973, December 16). Old Station Relics Here. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Accessed at the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.
[8]  Storey, S. Atlanta Terminal Station.
[9]  Atlanta Terminal Station. Georgia Rails.
[10]  Terminal Station (Atlanta).



[a]  Bryans, Raleigh. (1971, July 22). Only Memories Remain. The Atlanta Journal, p. 22-A. Accessed at the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.

[b]  “Demolition of Terminal Station, July 21, 1971”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Accessed thru Georgia State University’s “Planning Atlanta” collection,

[c]  “Architectural detail — human-headed lion — from Atlanta Terminal Station, demolished 1972, Atlanta, Georgia, 1972.” Accessed thru Georgia State University’s AJC Photographs collection,