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Denver Union Station hosts a public event for their grand opening celebration featuring food trucks and live music on Wynkoop Street and free tours of the building. (Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post)
Thousands flock to see Denver’s Union Station
Makeover » The 133-year-old station was redeveloped into a mixed-use complex.
First Published Jul 26 2014 09:05 pm • Last Updated Jul 28 2014 11:09 am

Denver • Pauline Brown started Saturday with an unwelcome surprise.

When the 94-year-old’s daughter knocked on the door of her Lakewood home, Brown thought they were headed to a movie. As they approached Union Station, Brown realized it wasn’t a film they were headed to, but rather a glimpse into her past.

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Brown worked for years as a secretary for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation — a job she admits she didn’t love — at an office just down the hall from where Phil Anschutz, the billionaire, began his empire in the station . When Brown’s daughter heard that the newly remodeled station would be opening to the public Saturday, she soon knew she wanted to bring her mother back.

As Brown, who was born just a few years after Union Station first opened, walked from the sweltering heat into the cool air inside the new station, what she thought of as a sour surprise quickly became a happy trip down memory lane. Lifting her head and white hair upwards, she smiled.

"Just like another century," she said, looking at the pristine white ceiling over the new shops and hotel. "They’ve done a beautiful job."

Memories were plentiful Saturday morning as the station opened its doors to the public for the first time since the 133-year-old station was redevelopment into a mixed-use complex. Thousands flocked to the blocked-off streets around the area where food carts, music, beer and ice cream stood ready for excited patrons.

While the station has been the scene in recent weeks of several exclusive — and expensive — private openings, Saturday was the first time the people of Denver were able to marvel at their new transportation and social hub.

"Back to the future," Dana Crawford, the iconic Denver developer to whom much of the new station’s renovation is due, said to those waiting to enter the building. "For the next 99 years, it’s all yours."

And with an air-conditioned blast of cool breeze, dozens briskly entered the new station.

"It’s exciting today to open these doors to the people of Colorado," Crawford told The Denver Post as many came to thank her for her work and commitment to the city. "It’s really their place."

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Jesse Paul: 303-954-1733, jpaul@denverpost.com or twitter.com/jesseapaul

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