Old Chicago Union Station Concourse

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Old Chicago Union Station Concourse
Posted by mrrdad on Sunday, May 06, 2018 9:53 PM

Hello all,

I am starting to work on a new HO scale model railroad focusing around passenger trains of the 1960's. I would like to scratch build a model of Chicago Union Station and it's main concourse which was demolished in 1969. Do any of you know where I could find any information and more detailed photos of the concourse as it formerly existed?

Thanks,

Ed

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, May 07, 2018 8:26 AM

If memery is correct, there were two concourses with the main waiting room between them, one for the CMStP&P on the north and one for everone else, CB&Q, GM&O, and PRR on the south.   Union Station always was and still is two statons back-to-back.  How are your going to build a model railroad aorund it?   Tough enoiugh for one terminal station, but two?   I think there were two through tracks that had some platform access.

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, May 07, 2018 10:11 AM

Sad to say, I did not get to Chicago until 1968--just a short time before the great changes.

However, there are still two through tracks, and the one on the west has platform access. Umtil the first class lounge was moved to its current location, sleeper passengers would walk outside the lounge directly to this platform and on it to the array of tracks on the south side to board their cars. 

I believe that the main waiting room was on the west side of the station, not between the two concourses. 

Johnny

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Monday, May 07, 2018 10:15 AM

The main waiting room is now referred to as the Great Hall.  It seems to be reverting to its original role.  I remember that prior to 1968, CUS actually had one concourse with track gates on both the north and south sides.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, May 07, 2018 11:35 AM

Having had some experience as a model railroader, even if a long time ago, I would think that, unless your model railroad is extremely large, you are better off modeling a through station, rather than a terminal, and expecially not two terminals back-to-back.  Where are all those trains going to go after they leave the two terminals?  If I wanted to model the passenger railroading of the Chicago area in the days of the late 50's and 60's, or even today, the two locations that would be at the top of my list would be Joliet and/or Englewood.  For a downtown Chicago great ststion, only Central would fill the bill.  Central would give you IC, New York Central (Michigan Central and Big Four), and South Shore.  Diesel, steam, and Electric.

But then, maybe you have some creative idea to model Union Station, that the station will be the main attraction.  I've thought of modeling Grand Central Terminal.   But only the facade.  The purpose would be model the intense streetcar activity on 42nd Street in front of the Terminal, and the two layers of rapid transit classic IRT subway trains below 42nd Street, the shuttle with its trains moving back and forth and what is now the 7 line directly below.  The Lexington Avenue subway line and the Central and New Haven trains would be represented (implied) but not really modeled or operating.   And the scene would be January 1945 VE Day.  Third Avenue streetcars would include the convertables on the 42nd Street Crosstown, 629, the car I ran often at Branford, borrowed from 59th Street to run on 42nd, which it did regularly on Sundays, and the Broadway Huffliners, the double-end Peter-Witts built for Broadway-42nd.   The IRT shuttles and most of the Flusning and Astoria trains would be the classic IRT railroad-roof "Steinways" and "Low-Vs," but there would be one train of 1938 "Worlds Fair," the last that the private IRT bought before Unification.  The time chosen would keep 42nd Street fairly free of autos because gas rationing was in effect at the time, with WWII still going on in the Pacific.  And the large USA flag on the face of the building would be approriate for the day modeled.

Possibly you have some similar creative use for CUS.  There was and still is the Lake Street elevated north of the station and earlier there was the Garfield Park Elevated with hosting CA&E interurban trains on Congress Streeet on the south side.  Spam cans and gate cars and a variety of interurban cars in trains.

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, May 07, 2018 5:56 PM

Edward M. Derouin put together an excellent classic-era history of Union Station, its operations and buldings (Chicago Union Station: A Look at its History and Operations Before Amtrak - Chicago 2003).  Should be findable on the used book market.  The concourse was quite a wide space, covering the distance from the north side gates to the south side gates, which remain in the same locations.

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Posted by mrrdad on Monday, May 07, 2018 11:40 PM

rcdrye

Edward M. Derouin put together an excellent classic-era history of Union Station, its operations and buldings (Chicago Union Station: A Look at its History and Operations Before Amtrak - Chicago 2003).  Should be findable on the used book market.  The concourse was quite a wide space, covering the distance from the north side gates to the south side gates, which remain in the same locations.

 

 

Thank you all very much for responses. I think I will order the book (and a few others as well).

 

I spent most of my life in the Chicago area and was in Union Station several times a week in my later years there. As a person who loves trains and architecture, it is my favorite building on the planet.

As for the comments about my model railroad plans...

 

I do plan on modeling as close to original as possible. The station will be the focus of my layout. It will be a back-to-back terminal. My layout will be rather large as it will be in a 2400 sq ft space. I turn 50 years old this month, I plan to be working on this for the next 20 years with my son.

 

Thank you all,

Ed

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, May 08, 2018 12:31 AM

Still recommending Central Station if you want to model a Chicago "terminal."  It is desgined as a through station, so it is adaptable to many kinds of model railroad layouts.  The variety of equipment in the period of steam-to-diesel transition is terrifice, with the steamlined Panama and City of New Orleans with E-units and the odd articulated Green Diamond to St, Louis.  The other IC and most NYC System trains would be steam with heavywieght equipment; but possibly one of the Central's would be lightweights with an E-unit.  Freight to IC's Riverfront yard passing cloase to the stiation.  On the electrified tracks closes to Michigan Blvd. electric original MUs of the IC, motor-trailer pairs in trians, and the South Shore with both short and lengthened and modernized MUs.  And I almost forgot, the Roosevelt Rd. streetcar extension to Grant Park crossing over all the platforms and tracks with its own upper-level platforms and stairways and lighrweight one-man double-end streetcars and also deck-roof older cars like 144 Union.

Into Central, the NYCentrql also handled through cars from south of Cincinnati from several railroads, including the C&O and Southern.

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