The Reed Street Depot

Many people have most likely heard of the seminal railroad station in Milwaukee called the Reed street Station. It can be hard to picture where it was located unless you have the right reference point. The top view looks south on South Second Street (Reed Street) and was taken for an article in the August 30, 1902 Milwaukee Journal. The second picture is from Google Maps showing roughly the same angle. The pink building is the same as shown in the older photo but where the station was is now a parking lot.

The article explains:

“How are the mighty fallen.” The fall of the mighty is rarely so well shown as in the present appearance of the old and famous Reed street depot, once the great railway center of Milwaukee. the old structure is shown as it stands today below the street grade, cut up into various divisions, plastered with signs and used for a dozen different purposes. This depot was the great union depot for Milwaukee after the roads about Milwaukee were formed into the big Milwaukee road of the seventies and the Chestnut street depot closed. It was there that all the road’s trains, as well as those of the Wisconsin Central and the Milwaukee and Northern centered, and it was there that the people of Milwaukee received President Hayes in 1879, and Gens Grant, Sherman and other noted soldiers at the time of the great reunion in 1880. For many years the diningroom managed by the late Col. W.S. Johnson was one of the famous railway eating houses of the country, and its excellence made it a strong competitor of dining cars and hotels.

Reed Street 1

Reed Street 2

Another picture of busy South Second Street looking north towards downtown, circa 1885, can be seen at the UWM Digital Collections website.

Comments (4)

  1. I have never heard of this station. Was this the main depot before the big one on Everett St?

  2. mkemaster

    Yep, they actually worked with land developers to build that one closer to downtown. It even went so far as to make a spur track through a small loop to get to the new station. All stations had the designation “Union Depot” – even the current station was originally named Union Depot.

  3. This may be a silly comment, but what was meant by “Union Depot”? Was it because more than one line stopped at the station (i.e. Milwaukee Road, Wisconsin Central, etc)?

  4. Markitect

    Yes, it is a term used to describe where multiple railroads share the same depot/station building.

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