Denver’s Union Station, architecture, and how not to treat a nice lens

Denver’s in the process of reworking the core of its mass transit system, and since part of the new work had a grand opening last weekend, my daughter and I hopped on a light rail train to check things out.  The core of all the work will soon be Denver’s Union Station — rebuilt in 1914, and currently in the process of renovation into a high-end hotel.

But the light rail stop that used to sit directly behind (to the Northwest of) Union Station got relocated about a quarter mile further west.  So what to do with the space between?

Walking the Concourse

Why, build an underground bus station, naturally.  The idea was to make a bus station that looks more like an airport concourse than a stereotypical bus station — and if you ask me, they were fully successful in that.  I’m not sure, but suspect that the yellow tile trimming the walls is a hat-tip to the similarly-colored tile used in the original Union Station train tunnels (check out the cover of The Fray’s self-titled second album for a historical peek at them).

Along with providing a way for people to connect with regional busses in an out-of-the-weather place, the bus concourse provides a sheltered way to get between the light rail trains and the other transit options that the new Denver Union Station Transit Center supports.

All lined up

Like, for instance, the big trains.

A large amount of the space above the bus concourse is covered with railroad tracks ending in the open-air (and aptly named) Train Hall.  Right now, just the Amtrak California Zephyr stops there.  But in a few years, commuter rail lines to the west, north, and east suburbs will terminate here.  In the meantime, the Train Hall gives gawkers plenty of elbow room as they take their photographs (and frames the back face of Union Station nicely).

Travel by Train -- yesterday and tomorrow

Our visit did, though, come with one bad scare.

I made the mistake of using one of the train track guard rails as a place to set my Oly 12-40mm lens down, on-end, while changing lenses.  The rail’s easily 3 to 4″ wide, so I thought this was a good idea for a quick swap.  It was a good idea — until a 4 year-old came running up and slammed his full weight into the guard rail.

Scene of the crime

The scene of the crime

The lens, predictably, fell to the ground about 4 feet below, landing on angular gravel.  The front cap popped off, the rear cap flew off, and I was sure I was going to be scraping up the cash for a new lens.  Or at least, living with a damaged, ugly, crippled lens.  But contrary to its reputation (at least in some quarters) as a fragile beast, my copy of the Oly 12-40mm lens proved its mettle once again — only the lens hood was damaged in the fall.

The damage done

Granted, the hood’s unuseable for at least the time being, but I’m hopeful I can bend it back into good-enough shape to latch onto the lens correctly again.  And in the meantime, I’ve got a spare.

Postscript — after these adventures, I’ve decided this particular lens needs a name, and only one name will do.  Her name is now Pauline.