Travelling Light: A Tale of Two Stations

A look at how the terminals from which we start and finish our journeys have evolved over the years to place more emphasis on their lighter, airier features, whisking away much of the gloom that characterised the early train stations.

Gare de Lyon and Paddington. These two railway stations, one in Paris and the other in London, provide classic examples of 19th century design featuring glass wall or ceiling shed structures reminiscent of atrium buildings and creating an agreeably light and airy ambiance. This style of train shed first sprang up in the mid-nineteenth century and took their inspiration from the Crystal Palace, an iron-framed glass structure built in London’s Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851. Modernised versions of this luminous, pleasing style encompassing steel and glass are springing up today in more and more public rail travel spaces. Air terminals, especially international hubs such as San Francisco and Charles de Gaulle (Paris) airports are also renovating their appearances to offer voyagers a clean, light-filled space.

The Old, Monet’s painting depicts the smoke and steam from the locomotive engines.
The Gare Saint-Lazare: Arrival of a Train, 1877, Located at the Harvard University Fogg Art Museum.

Gare de Lyon, Paris, France
Built to replace the original terminus constructed in 1852 that was deigned too frumpy for the upcoming
1900 World Exhibition, the present Gare de Lyon train station was completely rebuilt between 1895 and 1902 by architect Marius Toudoire.

Researched, written and photographed by
Norman Taylor

Paddington train station concourse area today.
The station platforms in the early 1900’s.
Modern concourse at the Gare de Lyon
station, Paris.
Early morning at the check-in area of Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris.

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