Harvey Hotels & Restaurants on Route 66

Ilinois

Chicago Union Station

Chicago Union Station – During Union Station’s boom years in the 1940s, more than 300 trains arrived or departed daily and 100,000 passengers passed through the terminal.  It was then that the historic station also housed one of the famous Harvey House restaurants. Today, Chicago’s Union Station continues to function as some 50,000 passengers pass through a day.

Missouri

Joplin – The Frisco building that continues to stand in Joplin once served as Joplin’s train depot and one of the famous Harvey House Restaurants. Today, it has been refurbished into an apartment building.

Springfield – The original Springfield depot was built in 1882 when the Gulf line built a large two-story depot at the corner of Mill and Main Streets. It included a lunchroom built by the Fred Harvey Company on the west end of the depot. In 1901 the Frisco took over the Gulf line.

Springfield, MO Frisco Depot

In the early to mid-1920s several newspaper articles speculated that a new depot would be built, but instead, the Frisco hired architect R.C. Stevens to completely remodel and expand the building in the California mission style. There was still a Harvey House Restaurant, now on the east side. As railroad travel declined in the 1950s the depot saw fewer travelers. The popular Harvey House Restaurant was closed down in 1955, the last to close on the Frisco line. On December 9, 1967, the last passenger train left the station. There was talk in Springfield of turning the station into a shopping mall, but this never happened. The building immediately began to decline, as it was not secured from the public. Although placed on the Historic Sites Register of Springfield in 1975 in an effort to preserve it, the building was demolished on March 5, 1977.

St. Louis Union Station

St. Louis Union Station – On September 1st, 1894, St. Louis Union Station opened as the largest, most beautiful terminal in the United States. This enormous project was built at a cost of $6.5 million. The piece de resistance of this new station was the Grand Hall, which featured a 65-foot barrel-vaulted ceiling decorated with gold leaf, Romanesque arches and stained glass windows — the most magnificent of these being the Allegorical Window, which is majestically framed by the famous “Whispering Arch”. The end walls were decorated with low relief tracery emerging from female figures.

In its heyday in the mid-1940s, the station served over 100,000 passengers a day. During the 1950s, people began choosing other forms of transportation and with the decline in rail traffic, the station languished for a number of years until, in October 1978, the last train pulled out, marking the end of an era.

In March of 1979, Oppenheimer Properties purchased the station for $5.5 million. In August of 1985, after two years of extensive restoration and new construction costing $174 million, St. Louis Union Station celebrated its grand reopening as a specialty retail, restaurant, entertainment, and hotel complex, making it the largest adaptive reuse project in the United States.

New Mexico 

Albuquerque – The Alvarado Hotel, designed by Mary Jane Colter, opened in 1902. It also housed the Indian Building where Native American pottery and jewelry was displayed. In the early part of the twentieth century, the Fred Harvey Company began to popularize and develop markets for Indian craftsmanship. Many such artifacts were actually created in the Indian Building. On February 13, 1970, the wrecking ball smashed into what was one of Albuquerque’s most famous historical landmarks. For years the site sat empty as a parking lot. However, in 2002, a “new” Alvarado opened to the public.

The original Alvarado Hotel was torn down in 1970, vintage postcard.

The rebuilt Alvarado Hotel today

Belen, NM – Harvey House

Belen – While not actually on Route 66, it’s very nearby. This early 1900s depot housed one of the original Harvey House Restaurants in 1910 and today, is called home to the Harvey House Museum. The museum is located just ten miles south of Route 66 from Los LunasNew Mexico. Take US-85/NM-314 to get to Belen.

Gallup – The El Navaho Hotel was built in 1918. Though the hotel was torn down, the historic railroad station continues to stand housing the new Gallup Cultural Center.

Santa Fe – The La Fonda Hotel Hotel was built in 1922. In 1925 it was acquired by the Atchison, Topeka Santa Fe Railroad which leased it to Fred Harvey. For more than 40 years, from 1926 to 1968, the La Fonda was one of the famous Harvey Houses. Since 1968, La Fonda has been locally owned and operated and has continued a tradition of warm hospitality, excellent service, and modern amenities while maintaining its historic integrity and architectural authenticity.

Oklahoma

Afton – The Fred Harvey Company operated a newsstand at the Afton Depot.

Miami – The Fred Harvey Company operated a newsstand at the Miami Depot.

Oklahoma City – The art-deco station continues to stand in Oklahoma City but is in poor repair. This was one of only a handful of Santa Fe depots built with a high ceiling waiting room. The two-story concrete depot is currently undergoing restoration.

Vinita, OK - Station

Old Vinita, Oklahoma Depot, courtesy University of Arizona Fred Harvey Collection.

Sapulpa – Opened in the late 1800s, a Harvey House Restaurant was housed in the Frisco Station. Though the Sapulpa Harvey House was torn down in 1963, the residence used by several of the Harvey girls continues to stand as the Sapulpa Historical Museum.

Tulsa – This art deco style station was designed by R.C. Stephens and completed in 1931. The Depot serviced as many as thirty-six trains a day in its prime. Though the station never housed a Fred Harvey restaurant, it was home to one of their many newsstands. The station ceased operation in 1967 and standing vacant and neglected for years, looter took everything they could reach, from marble to chandeliers and etched glass. Then in 1982, the Williams Companies began to renovate the deteriorating structure for use as office space. The walls, moldings, and medallions on the ceiling were restored to their original colors.

Vinita – The old depot in Vinita once included both a Harvey House Restaurant and newsstand. Unfortunately, there is no sign of the Harvey House today.

Texas

Amarillo – The two-story stucco depot opened in 1910 with a Harvey House Restaurant. It closed in 1940 and in the 1970s, the railroad sold the building. Continuing to stand today, it now houses a large antique store.

©  Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated October 2019.

Amarillo Harvey House

1 thought on “Harvey Hotels & Restaurants on Route 66”

  1. The worst food ever!! The food was cheap, poorly prepared however the cost was expensive. I could not even eat it and The waitress couldn’t care less.

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