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Union Station ready for starring role in the 2023 NFL Draft in Kansas City

Posted: 5:22 PM, Apr 25, 2023
Updated: 2023-04-26 15:48:47-04
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KSHB 41 anchor Dia Wall (left), Union Station president and CEO George Guastello and Denise Morrison, director of collections and curatorial affairs at the Kansas City Museum.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Union Station, then the biggest construction project in Kansas City history, opened back in 1914 to the largest crowd on record.

No secret Kansas City has a sound... jazz. If there's a flavor, it's definitely barbecue.

When it comes to the look?

"Union Station is the visual voice of Kansas City and has been for almost 109 years," Union Station President and CEO George Guastello said in a recent interview with KSHB 41 anchor Dia Wall.

Big events have been centered around the station time after time.

"When we convocated the land at Liberty Memorial, that was the second largest opportunity. People everywhere, generals from all over the world," Guastello described. "The Royals parade. The Chiefs parade. American Ninja Warrior. Now the National Football League's Draft where we'll make history again."

The landmark was also a conduit for men and women who served this country.

"In the 1940s, I'm told, more people went through Union Station than any station in the United States because of the war," Guastello said. "VJ Day ended right here. People were celebrating and bringing in New Year's Eve."

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Celebrities traveling by train between Los Angeles and New York would stop at Kansas City's Union Station.

Denise Morrison, director of collections and curatorial affairs for the Kansas City Museum, paints a picture of how Union Station became part of Kansas City's culture.

"For movie stars coming from LA to New York, this was their stop," Morrison said. "That's why there's the film row just on the other side of the tracks."

During a recent interview, Morrison shared artifacts from the opening, like an intricately painted vase from the grand opening in 1914 to patches from military members who are part of Union Station lore.

"Truman walked on these hallowed floors," Guastello says. "I want you to think about Walt Disney. Walt Disney every single day went back to Marceline, Missouri. He created Mickey Mouse here."

Walter Cronkite, known as the most trusted man in news, grew up not too far away from Union Station. When it fell into disrepair years ago, he lent his voice to help save the building.

"One of the very first commercials that the Friends of Union Station did to sort of say, 'Hey look at this beautiful building and what's happening to it,' Cronkite did the commercials because he remembered that childhood love of this building," Morrison said.

Morrison knows how bright Union Station will shine for the 2023 NFL Draft, and it won't only be because of the lights and screens.

"Every time you watch a baseball or a football game, and they're in Kansas City and they pan, they always come here because it's an icon and you just have that sense of pride," Morrison says.

It's a sentiment Guastello can agree with.

"It's beautiful," he said. "It's the Sistine Chapel of Kansas City."


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