If you’re coming into San Diego by train, or you’re looking for a cheap way to get around, you’ll likely find yourself at the Santa Fe Depot. This is the busiest Amtrak train station in San Diego and the third busiest in California, behind only the stations in Los Angeles and Sacramento Valley.
Thousands of people use the Santa Fe Depot every day, both as a way to access the city and to find their way around to various local attractions. Located in Core-Columbia in the heart of the business district, the depot services locals commuting to work as well as tourists looking to explore.
Like much of San Diego, this depot has a history that spans all the way back to its construction in the early 1900s. Built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, the station’s architecture is meant to reflect San Diego’s Spanish heritage and its history with the mission settlements while also helping to connect the West coast to the rest of the country.
New York Central Train Car at the Santa Fe Depot in Downtown San Diego
It first began operation in 1915 alongside the Panama-California Exposition and the influx of tourists the event brought with it. It functioned as a union station for many years, and thanks to its connections to the San Diego and Arizona Railway as well as the San Diego Electric Railway, there were more than enough visitors to make the depot a notable West coast landmark.
By 1972, when California tourism was far from what it is today, the station had fallen into disrepair, and there were even proposed plans to demolish it. However, the Save Our Heritage Organization and San Diego’s Historical Review Board protested these plans. Eventually, a compromise was reached where the depot could remain in service as long as the surrounding areas were renovated, which jump-started the local tourism industry and brought riders back to the railways once again.
Fountain in Front of the Santa Fe Depot
Today, the Santa Fe Depot is listed as one of California’s many nationally registered historic landmarks. It remains in operation, still helping San Diegans and vacationers alike avoid the headache of driving through the city.
If you want to see everything San Diego has to offer, you’ll need a convenient way to hop between neighborhoods. From the surfing and coastal culture of Oceanside to the more historically focused Gaslamp Quarter in Downtown San Diego, do your sightseeing in style at the depot.