Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Milan Central Station

Milan Central Station (in Italian, Stazione Centrale di Milano or Milano Centrale) is one of the main European railway stations. The building began construction in 1906 to replace the old central station, which was a transit station and could not handle the increasing traffic. King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy laid the cornerstone of the new station on before a blueprint for the station had even been chosen. After numerous design contests architect Ulisse Stacchinia's design, based on Union Station in Washington D.C., was selected. Due to the Italian economic crisis during World War I, construction proceeded very slowly, and the project, rather simple at the beginning, kept changing and became more and more complex and majestic. This happened especially when Benito Musselini became Prime Minister, and wanted the station to represent the power of the fascist regime. The major changes were the new platform types and the introduction of the great steel canopies which 341 meters long and covering an area of 66,500 square meters. Construction resumed in earnest in 1925 and in 1931 the station was officially opened. Its facade is 200 metres wide and its vault 72 metres high, a record when it was built. It has 24 platforms. Each day about 330,000 passengers use the station, totalling about 120 million per year. The station has no definite architectural style, but is a blend of many different styles, especially Liberty and Art Deco, but not limited to those. It has been characterized by Frank Lloyd Wright as one of the most beautiful stations in the world, together with New York's Grand Central Terminal.

Brian E. Williford

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