Photo by Ed Gunts

Baltimore, the birthplace of American railroading, has a new train station.

State officials cut the ribbon Thursday for a new Camden Station, a terminal serving riders on the state’s MARC train line between Baltimore and Washington D.C. and the central Maryland Transit Administration Light Rail line.

The $7 million building replaces a “temporary” structure that opened in 1992 for people going to Oriole Park at Camden Yards and other destinations downtown.

Unlike the temporary station, which consisted of two prefab trailers covered by a space frame roof, the new building has a brick exterior with green trim that echoes the Camden Green paint on Oriole Park.

Built on the footprint of the old station, the new one is a joint venture of the MTA and the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Amenities include public restrooms (for the first time); wall maps and other travel information; ticket vending machines; an expanded waiting area with seating for about 30 passengers; bike racks and a police substation. One wall has a bird’s-eye drawing of the city in the 1800s.

“This newly renovated Camden Station will truly serve as a distinctive gateway to Baltimore for commuters and visitors alike,” said Pete Rahn, the state’s transportation secretary.
It’s “a home run for transit riders,” added Kevin Quinn, head of the MTA.

The new station is a block south of the original Camden Station, which was built in 1856 for rail passengers and is now owned by the state of Maryland. The historic station, located at 301 W. Camden Street, served as a transfer point for Abraham Lincoln on the way to his inauguration and on his journey to deliver the Gettysburg Address. It also was a stop during Lincoln’s funeral train procession, heading to Springfield, Illinois.

On behalf of the state, the stadium authority is currently seeking tenants for the building, after the departures of the Sports Legends Museum and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum.

The new station officially opened after the 1 p.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. Its hours are 4:30-9:30 a.m. and 3-9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; the building will be closed on weekends. There is no attendant.

The station is expected to serve an average of 800 MARC users a day either arriving in Baltimore or leaving the city, according to Maryland Department of Transportation Director of Media Relations Brittany Marshall. The first MARC train to leave the new station was the 3:40 p.m. train heading to Washington, she said.

AECOM was the designer, and Barton Malow was the builder. One much-touted feature is a series of large windows that enable people inside to look out and watch the light rail cars going by and see when the MARC trains arrive.

Two of the station’s first users were Lesley and James Fisher, retired school teachers from Toronto.

The Fishers said they were on a tour of all 30 Major League ballparks and were planning to see Thursday night’s game at Oriole Park, then head to Washington tomorrow. They had just come by train from Philadelphia to Baltimore Penn Station and took the light rail line to Camden Yards when the doors opened to the new train station.

“It’s our first time in Baltimore,” Lesley Fisher said, looking around the station. “This is a nice introduction to the city.”

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.