For the Victorians, the advent of the railways symbolized a new age of progress, power, and civilization. Since then, industrialization has often proved a mixed blessing; yet we continue to acknowledge the importance--as well as the romantic mystique--of the rails and all that comes with them. This engaging book examines the role of the railway station around the world, revealing a microcosm more complex and fascinating than anything our nineteenth-century forebears could have dreamed of. The authors chart the changing styles in the construction and decoration of the station, from the somber grandeur of St. Pancras in London to the humbler delights of country stations in the American Midwest. As the book shows, the various facilities offered by the station have assumed as much importance as the building itself: the ticket office and the waiting room have become as familiar as the trains. The book also discusses how, in paintings and poetry, stations have been depicted as places of tearful departure or joyful reunion, and how, in films like Brief Encounter, they have assumed the status of a starring role. Stations also have had a part to play in politics and the economy, especially in wartime, and governments throughout the world have long recognized their strategic significance. This enthralling volume captures the allure of the station by encompassing the disciplines of history, literature, art, and architecture in a sweeping global survey, unique in both scope and perspective.