Chicago Union Station
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168 pages

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More than a century before airlines placed it at the center of their systems, Chicago was already the nation's transportation hub –from Union Station, passengers could reach major cities on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts as well as countless points in between.

Chicago's history is tightly linked to its railroads. Railroad historian Fred Ash begins in the mid 1800's, when Chicago dominated Midwest trade and was referred to as the "Railroad Capital of the World." During this period, swings in the political climate significantly modified the relationship between the local government and its largest landholders, the railroads. From here, Ash highlights competition at the turn of the twentieth century between railroad companies that greatly influenced Chicago's urban landscape. Profiling the fascinating stories of businessmen, politicians, workers, and immigrants whose everyday lives were affected by the bustling transportation hub, Ash documents the impact Union Station had on the growing city and the entire Midwest.

Featuring more than 100 photographs of the famous beaux art architecture, Chicago Union Station is a beautifully illustrated tribute to one of America's overlooked treasures.

Introduction: The Continental Divide
1. Humble Beginnings
2. Coming Together
3. A Depot Worthy of Chicago
4. A Most Public Service
5. Colossus of the Roads
6. City within a City
7. Red Ink in the White City
8. Remodeling the Depot, Remaking the City
Appendix A: Chicago's Railroad Terminals
Appendix B: Naming Conventions



Publié par
Date de parution 23 mars 2018
Nombre de lectures 1
EAN13 9780253029157
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 3 Mo

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Fred Ash
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA

2018 by Fred Ash
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data .
Names: Ash, Fred, author.
Title: Chicago Union Station / Fred Ash.
Description: 1st edition. | Bloomington, Indiana : Indiana University Press,
[2018] | Series: Railroads past and present | Includes
bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2017060511 (print) | LCCN 2017040253 (ebook) | ISBN
9780253029157 (e-book) | ISBN 9780253027290
(cloth : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Union Station (Chicago, Ill.)
-History. | Railroad stations-Illinois-Chicago-History. | Railroad
stations-Illinois-Chicago-Pictorial works. |
Railroads-Illinois-Chicago-Passenger traffic. |
LCGFT: Illustrated works.
Classification: LCC TF302.C48 (print) | LCC TF302.
C48 A84 2018 (ebook) | DDC
LC record available at
ISBN 978-0-253-02729-0 (cloth)
ISBN 978-0-253-02915-7 (ebook)
1 2 3 4 5 23 22 21 20 19 18

Appendix A: Chicago s Railroad Terminals
Appendix B: Naming Conventions

THE AUTHOR IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL ERRORS of fact or interpretation. While he tended his manuscript, his wife Martha Ash and daughter Karolina Ash ably looked after him. This book would not have been possible without their support, and it is dedicated to them. The genesis of this work came from suggestions by Curtis Katz and Charles Stats. Greatly aiding the research and providing editorial criticism were Chris Baer of the Hagley Museum and Library, Greg Ames of the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library, the late Ed DeRouin, the late Stanley Brandt, Roger Grant, Darrel Babek, Bob Johnson, Dave Leider, and Bill Shapotkin. Marc Magliori of Amtrak facilitated procurement of intellectual property. Dennis McClendon was an invaluable resource on Chicago history and an infallible proofreader, in addition to his cartographic expertise.
Chicago is blessed with tremendous research facilities and patient staff members at the Burnham Library of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Newberry Library, the Chicago History Museum, the Harold Washington branch of the Chicago Public Library, and the Northwestern University Transportation Center Library. Thank you to their staff. Gerald Austiff of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and architect Lucien LaGrange were unstinting with their time and assistance. Linda Oblack, Peggy Solic, Ashley Runyon, Rachel Rosolina, and Peter Froelich of Indiana University Press sagely advised on the nuances of the publications business. Brian Cudahy and John Spychalski provided suggestions and corrections critical to the manuscript. Jim Cappio s diligence as copy editor is especially appreciated.
MORE THAN A CENTURY BEFORE AMERICA S AIRLINES made it the hub of their systems, Chicago was already the nation s transportation center. From the foot of Lake Michigan, lines of steel radiated through the prairies, and over these thin bands rode the abundance of a rich land. The rails carried the people who farmed it, who worked in its factories, and who built its towns. All points of the compass and all American cities of importance were directly connected by trains or by through cars to one of Chicago s six intercity passenger terminals.
Just as today s O Hare Field is more important than Midway Airport, Chicago Union Station overshadowed its five crosstown rivals: Central, Dearborn, LaSalle Street, Grand Central, and Madison Street stations. From Union Station passengers could reach the major cities on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts and the countless villages and towns in between. Chicago Union Station was and is the nexus of routes over which commuters travel from leafy suburban bedroom communities into the city. You can still catch any number of intercity and suburban trains from Union Station, unlike many of the great railroad stations built in this nation. It was always in a class by itself; no other Chicago depot operated twenty-four hours a day; none had such monumental architecture; none connected so many places. In sum, none of Chicago s other depots compared to Union Station.
The history of Chicago is the history of its railroads. The city and the railroad network grew up together and any study of one s ascendance must look at the other. Chicago came to dominate the trade of the Midwest because of its railroads, and from early in its history it was known with justification as the Railroad Capital of the World. The railroads and Chicago both remain important, but modern narratives overlook their linkage except when discussing their early development. This book is an inquiry into the continuing relationship between the railroad corporations and the city-in particular their competing visions for one crucially important piece of Chicago real estate.
Chicago Union Station s site has been continually owned and occupied by a series of successor corporations for fifteen decades. Over this time, both its function and its neighborhood evolved remarkably. Originally the site was important in the movement of carload and break-bulk freight, a business on which the city developed. It later specialized in the movement of intercity mail and passengers. Today, it serves primarily as a portal by which commuters from remote residential areas enter the downtown office district. These changes correspond to a transformation in the public view of the station s owners. Local government originally looked to the railroads as development partners but came to distrust the giant corporations that developed. The public then sought to limit and even to remove the railway terminal it once encouraged. As the importance of the railroads waned, public antagonism abated. Now, the partnership is reborn as transit-oriented development has become a key public policy.
The railroad industry s decline resulted in benign neglect of both the station and public transport in general. It reached the point where Union Station appeared nonviable at least for a period. Faced with the simultaneous decline and possible demise of both commuter and intercity rail service, governments rediscovered their linkage to their city s development. Public policy came full circle.
Railroad stations by their nature are both public space and private property. A study of Chicago Union Station illuminates how different generations weighed the dilemmas arising from this duality. Railroad managers defended unfettered ownership rights, while politicians and reformers advocated greater obligation. More than most enterprises, the public views railroad companies as a linchpin for economic or social reform. Railroad corporations thus became unwilling facilitators of broad urban planning schemes.
For railroads, the need to efficiently use expensive center city real estate remains a constant. Chicago Union Station, like other railroad terminals, may be thought of as a building, but it encompasses yards, tracks, and ancillary structures that cover a swath of land nearly two miles long. The term station is used in both senses in this book. These massive landholdings were acquired at such great cost that it affected their owners relationships with local governments, with other corporations, and with the public. It even directly affected the owners corporate governance and the way their trains operated. This land retains significant value-but value now derived from the vitality of the downtown real estate market it helped create, rather than as an asset used in a profitable railroad operation.
At their peak, Chicago s six stations, together with their ancillary yards, roundhouses, postal facilities, express houses, and tracks, comprised a several-hundred-acre tract surrounding downtown. This isolated the business district from rest of the city and even from Lake Michigan s shore. These facilities covered two and one-half times the area of the business district, profoundly shaping the development of Chicago s Loop and the city. A passenger who walked out of the station would, in all likelihood, join the throng moving toward the business district, an area where, within blocks of the depot, rents rose to among the highest in the nation. Until recent times, however, if that same passenger walked west, they would literally be on the other side of the tracks, a world of cheap bars and flophouses. Union Station was the division point between radically different u

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