Secrets of Colorado: 9 secrets of Denver's Union Station and the Crawford Hotel

DENVER - For years in the early 1900s, Denver’s Union Station was the center of town -- the place where tourists and dreamers arrived looking to see the Rocky Mountains and maybe find a fortune.

Some 80 trains were arriving daily at Union Station in the 1930s and 1940s, but by 2012, there were just two trains a day and few people coming to Union Station.

However, that's changed in the last year since RTD opened a transportation hub at Union Station and developers remodeled the station, adding more retail space and a luxury hotel.

While it’s a beautiful place to visit, we want to share some of the secrets of Union Station that you might not know. Let’s start in the big open Great Hall.

The Great Hall has become great again. There are restaurants and shops lining the room, with benches, even couches and other seating in the middle.

Secret No. 1: While the dark, wood benches are new, workers were able to save two of the original benches. They're on the north wall of Union Station.

The original benches were known for being uncomfortable and it turns out they were unhealthy, too. They had asbestos inside! Crews were able to rescue two benches that didn't have asbestos. They've been cleaned up and are still in Union Station for history buffs to find.

By the way, just like your couch cushions, over the years, items got left or lost under the benches and in various places.

Secret No. 2: Some of those bus tickets, coins, notes and other items have been preserved.

Not just preserved, the artifacts have been framed and are being used as artwork on the second floor of the hotel.

All of the art in the hotel was created by Colorado artists.

You can even see the blueprints for the 1912-1914 remodel of Union Station. They're framed and hung on the walls of a straircase between the third and fourth floors.

Back in the Great Hall, it's hard not to notice the chandeliers.

Secret No. 3: The chandeliers may look familiar because they were crafted from photos of the original chandeliers inside Union Station.

However, the new chandeliers are twice as large and have external light bulbs to provide more lighting.

Secret No. 4: The gold sconces on the walls are original, but they have LED light bulbs now.

Did you notice the rosettes in the design around the sconces?

Secret No. 5: Those rosettes are Columbines, the Colorado state flower. There are 2,300 of them on the walls in the Great Hall of Union Station. If you visited years ago, you may not have noticed the detail work because the Columbines were painted dark brown. During the 2014 remodel, the Columbines were painted white so they were easier to see.

As you wander around, look for the old ticket window -- it's been incorporated into the windows of the Terminal Bar.

Secret No. 6: That is the original ticket window. Workers found it under a layer of drywall. It was cleaned up, fixed up and incorporated into the Great Hall's design.

In the Great Hall, you may notice two floors above the grand room - that's part of the Crawford Hotel.

Secret No. 7: Before the remodel, Union Station was 2 floors -- retail and transportation on the first floor and offices on another floor. Now, it's 4 floors!

A second floor was added between the original ground floor and the the old office floor.

The office's floor is now the 3rd floor.

And a fourth floor was created in the old attic space.

The second, third and fourth floors house the 112-room boutique hotel. It was named the Crawford Hotel in honor of Dana Crawford, an urban preservationist and Union Station partner.

Crawford has had a hand in redeveloping Larimer Square, the Oxford Hotel and other Denver projects.

There are three styles of rooms.

The "Pullman" rooms are on the second floor. The "Pullman" rooms are supposed to evoke train travel with a subtle art deco nod, according to the hotel's website.

You'll notice the rooms are rectangle-shaped, not square, more like a sleeping car room on a train.

The "classic" rooms are on the third floor. Officials say the rooms are inspired by the building's Victorian era beginning.

Secret No. 8: If you're in a classic room, check out the bathroom door. Some of the doors came from the old offices that once occupied this floor.

The fourth floor rooms are the "loft" rooms, utilizing the old attic space. All rooms even have the original exposed wood timbers.

We're told each rooms in The Crawford is different. In the loft-style rooms, you see those timbers and in some, you may have exposed brick. My tour guide said all of the loft rooms have fun furnishings.

Secret No. 9: If you're staying at the hotel, you don't have to wait in the long lines for breakfast at Snooze restaurant on the first floor. You can order room service!

Learn more about Union Station and The Crawford Hotel.

Check out more of our secrets of Colorado stories:

Got a place you want us to go inside and learn the secrets of? Email Debbie@TheDenverChannel.com.

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