Sacramento seeks new name for downtown train station

02/21/2013 12:00 AM

10/13/2013 1:18 PM

Quick, do you know the official name of Sacramento's downtown train station?

Therein lies a problem. Ten years ago, city officials renamed the old depot at Fifth and I streets the Sacramento Valley Station. But hardly anyone calls it that. Some call it the Amtrak depot. Some use its former name, the SP Depot. Some simply say downtown train station.

The lack of a catchy, go-to name is bothering some at City Hall. The city, which owns the old depot, has begun a major expansion at the site.

Eventually, that will include new ticketing areas and concourses to handle an eventual 10 million-plus travelers annually on Amtrak trains, streetcars, light rail, buses and possibly bullet trains.

There will be restaurants, shops, offices, entertainment spaces, potentially a farmers market, and possibly an arena, spread out over several acres.

It's time, officials say, to think about rebranding the site.

The city launched a short online public questionnaire Wednesday at called: "What to name a train station that is more than trains?"

Four of the nominations from residents taking the survey on Wednesday: Sacramento Metro Area Regional Transportation Station (SMARTS), The Big Four Station (pays tribute to the four men who were part of the development of the transcontinental railroad), Sacramento Metro Exchange Station and Sacramento Transportation Center.

City architect Greg Taylor said the name Sacramento Valley Station is still in the running. But officials are asking for other ideas.

"I've had people say Sac Valley Station sounds like it is out in Redding somewhere," Councilman Steve Cohn said. "It doesn't conjure up downtown Sacramento much."

It's possible the historic depot building can have one name, and the surrounding center another name, architect Taylor said.

City officials for years have been calling the planned expanded center the Sacramento Intermodal Transportation Facility.

But, "that is just not a catchy name," city spokeswoman Linda Tucker said. "We need something that is stickier, something that resonates."

The city moved the rail tracks last year to make room for development, and built new platforms and tunnels there.

Officials recently launched a $30 million rehabilitation project on the old depot. Eventually the city will build new facilities just north of the depot.

Architect Taylor said the city also is looking for help in finding historic photos of the old depot.

People interested in donating photos can contact the city at


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