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

Seeking advice for modeling Chicago railroads of the mid-late 1960's

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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

Seeking advice for modeling Chicago railroads of the mid-late 1960's

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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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Posted by 3rd rail on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 10:11 PM

Well Dave, I really liked the old I.C station too, but as the O.P. stated, he wants to model old Union. You might be forgetting that Union was also, a "Through-Station" in track layout, if not in normal operation.It wasn't until the early 1970's when Amtrak ran a train from Milwaukee to St. Louis, Through Union Station. Alas, that didn't last very long. I also agree that the late Ed DeRouin penned the ultimate book on CUS. As for what I would model in "HO". I'd do good old Dearborn Station. Neat old place with lots of variety in RR's  ATSF, GTW, ERIE, C&EI, MONON, I may be forgetting a few...  I did see an article in an old "Model Railroader" magazine from the '80's I think, where somebody did model Dearborn Station. It was fantastic. 

 

Todd 

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 12:21 AM

The problem with Union in model railroad is that you need really two model railroads, one for each side of the station, unless you want most of the tracks to be dummies and simply use, most of the time, the through tracks.  Dearborn would solve that problem, of course.  But modeling Central permits a continuous procession of trains in both directions, allowing one person to run a lot of trains simultaneously, something that cannot be done with Dearborn.

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Posted by rcdrye on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 7:17 AM

3rd rail
ATSF, GTW, ERIE, C&EI, MONON

Wabash, C&WI - C&WI was owned by all but the AT&SF, which was a tenant.  AT&SF had a wonderful coach yard nearby.

The "bypass" tracks around Union Station hosted freight, mail and passenger transfer runs of incredible variety.  Just about anything running in the Chicago area could be seen there.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 2:07 PM

Spending some time at Union summer 1952 and then again 1967-1970, I just don't remember the bypass tracks being used very often.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 7:27 PM

Y

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Posted by mrrdad on Thursday, May 31, 2018 7:17 AM
Thank you all for your participation in this thread. I've really enjoyed reading all the responses. The model layout will be a rather large two tier layout with a helix that will take the trains from one level to the next. Union station will be at one end of the layout. There will be small sections of mainline track that will come out of one side of the concourse that will only be there for cosmetics. Then the functioning tracks will come out of the other side of the concourse. This will not be a continuous "looping" layout. Real trains do not run in circles :) Ed

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Posted by 3rd rail on Saturday, June 23, 2018 11:56 PM

At the risk of sounding "nitpickey" The ICRR that went "Through" Central Station did not ever go further than the Chicago river. Those last few miles ended up at freight station, and express spurs. Unless I'm missing an I.C. passenger train that went north out of Chicago.  Hey, I'm not trying to be a pain, just trying to set things straight for a modeller with a question.  The only ICRR tracks that went PAST Central Station were the Suburban tracks that ended at Randolph Street. But those were the IC Electric, Totally removed from IC long distance trains. 

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Posted by 3rd rail on Sunday, June 24, 2018 12:05 AM

Seems to me there was an article several years ago in Model Railroader Mag. about Englewood Union Station. (That is about 10 miles south of the "Loop" . That was really the place to be until the 1960's.) Now unrecognizable, it was the junction of the PRR, NYC, and C,R,& I.P.  A search through some OLD Trains magazines should provide some helpful info. 

 

Todd 

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Posted by rcdrye on Sunday, June 24, 2018 2:20 PM

The bypass tracks at Union were mostly used by short transfer cuts - seldom more than 10 cars or so, so they wouldn't seem very busy, even though a lot of different carriers used them.  Just about all "bypass mail" handled by the Milwaukee and North Western moved on the bypass tracks, including Flexi-Vans off the New York Central.  By the late 1960s a lot of the traffic that had formerly used the bypass tracks was gone, or in the case of Milwaukee mail, moved in the late evening and early morning.

IC's Central Station was laid out as if it were a through station with a ladder on each end of the platform tracks, even if the north ladder led to a stub.

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, June 24, 2018 5:55 PM

3rd rail

Seems to me there was an article several years ago in Model Railroader Mag. about Englewood Union Station. (That is about 10 miles south of the "Loop" . That was really the place to be until the 1960's.) Now unrecognizable, it was the junction of the PRR, NYC, and C,R,& I.P.  A search through some OLD Trains magazines should provide some helpful info.  

Todd  

Sadly, Englewood Union Station, once located at 63rd and State on the South Side of Chicago is long gone. It was closed in 1969 and demolished in the 1970s.

I used to commute downtown each day on the Metra Rock Island, and I would look out the window at the northeast corner of the intersection between the Rock Island tracks and the old PRR tracks at the vacant property that once held Englewood Union Station.

More recently, a so-called CREATE project constructed a flyover for Metra Rock Island commuter trains to bypass the grade level intersection and ease freight train congestion. So, now, the old Englewood Union Station site cannot even be seen by commuters on the Metra Rock Island.

Rich

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Posted by 3rd rail on Saturday, June 30, 2018 1:27 AM

I am going to give all my encouragement to anyone that wants to model ANY downtown Chicago Station!  I've always wanted to do Dearborn myself, but to do it right, it would take the entire basement.....     But hey, Give it Hell!!!  I'd like to see it in a future issue of MR. 

Todd 

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, June 30, 2018 5:07 AM

3rd rail

As for what I would model in "HO". I'd do good old Dearborn Station. Neat old place with lots of variety in RR's  ATSF, GTW, ERIE, C&EI, MONON, I may be forgetting a few...  I did see an article in an old "Model Railroader" magazine from the '80's I think, where somebody did model Dearborn Station. It was fantastic. 

Todd  

You are likely referring to Gary Hoover's Dearborn Station module on his ATSF layout. Gary came as close as anyone in capturing the look and feel of Dearborn Station in the 1950s. 

Rich

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, June 30, 2018 5:22 AM

3rd rail

I am going to give all my encouragement to anyone that wants to model ANY downtown Chicago Station!  I've always wanted to do Dearborn myself, but to do it right, it would take the entire basement.....     But hey, Give it Hell!!!  I'd like to see it in a future issue of MR. 

Todd  

I have made a few attempts to simulate Dearborn Station on my layout, and you are correct. It takes a relatively enormous amount of space to do justice to the Dearborn Station area. Besides the station and train shed with its 10 passenger tracks, there were as many as 11 large freight houses to service LCL freight for the five owner roads (C&EI, Erie, GTW, Wabash and Monon) and the primary tenant, ATSF.

The Dearborn Station complex was 4 city blocks wide from State Street to Clark Street and 7 city blocks long from 8th Street (Polk) to 15th Street. In HO scale, that area would be 30 feet wide by 53 feet long.

So, any attempt, short of a full basement, requires a lot of selective compression. I am currently planning to try my hand at a 7' x 30' replica complete with the 11 freight houses. And, that doesn't take into account the ATSF coach yard or the C&WI freight yard which were located between 16th Street and 21st Street all the way west to Canal Street.

Rich

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Posted by 3rd rail on Wednesday, July 04, 2018 1:56 AM

Well, I'll tell ya... There isn't a single Chicago Passenger terminal that I don't like. If I had a 200 ft.X1000ft. pole barn to construct a layout in, I would do the entire "Loop" area.Circa 1950. Everything from Englewood on in. Might even throw in the stock yards... Delete the smell effect though... 

As far as "Architectual Quality" goes, I LOVE Grand Central... Best looking head house of all of them. But, limited trackage. I believe that Amtrak picked Union for the capacity, and justly so. And we still do have the "West Hall" as they call it now. Hey, gotta' take what's given.. Old Dearborn survives as a shopping/tourist/housing complex, but we will never see another SuperChief there..   The C&NW terminal was nice too, but now it is just another generic glass tower. 

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, July 04, 2018 4:25 AM

3rd rail

Well, I'll tell ya... There isn't a single Chicago Passenger terminal that I don't like. If I had a 200 ft.X1000ft. pole barn to construct a layout in, I would do the entire "Loop" area.Circa 1950. Everything from Englewood on in. Might even throw in the stock yards... Delete the smell effect though... 

3rd rail, we must be long lost brothers...or at least possess some form of matching DNA. I sometimes muse about buying a big old warehouse and converting the big open space into a gigantic model railroad layout.

It would feature all six downtown Chicago passenger stations and the trackage would run south to Englewood Station and southwest to Joliet Union Station.

No selective compression.

Rich

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, July 04, 2018 9:53 PM

Chicago and Joliet fit at the opposite corners of a square about 25 miles on a side.  In HO scale you would need a warehouse 1500' on a side.  Like it has been said, make no small plans.

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Posted by 3rd rail on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 12:48 AM

Rich, I am totally with you brother! Always Too many ideas, and never enough space!!!  Just to accurately model just a small local yard actually would take up about an 8'X10' area, and that is just the trackage, scenery excluded.  I'd buy Lotto Tickets, but they say that is a fools game. I've even heard it referred to as a tax on stupid people..   Anyway, I'll live with my small/medium size layout for now. Hell, I have enough trouble just trying to get this new DCC system figured out. Yep, I'm "OLD-SCHOOL" Most of my motive power is "Pre-DCC" and right now I have both capabilities on the power board, but that has issues as well. I have rouined one DCC P2K switcher due to a power overlap. It will still move, but the sound circut is toast. Good candidate for the bone-pile next to the shops.. 

Todd 

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Posted by mrrdad on Friday, July 27, 2018 11:32 PM
Thank you all again for your contributions. I cannot tell you the number of hours I have spent researching the Chicago railroads of the 1960's over the last few months. I have learned a lot! I am now considering modeling Chicago's Grand Central Station. I have found more information, better pictures, and some drawings that would help be get a more accurate representation than I would with Union Station. Ed

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Posted by mrrdad on Sunday, July 29, 2018 3:01 PM

I posted a message to this thread several days ago, but it seems to have never made it here.

As recommended, I am moving away from modeling Union Station. I have been working for month and I have been having a hard time finding good photos and a documentation. My intentions all along have been model a Chicago railroad from the mid-late 60's focusing on passenger service, but I would like some freight service as well.

I have found a good amount of photos and documentation for Grand Central Station. I like the train shed and limited number of lines to it. I also know there was a freight yard just to the south (Rock Island 12th St.?), but I'm not finding much good info on freight houses or freight yards.

Research eats up so much time on this.

Ed

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Posted by rcdrye on Monday, July 30, 2018 11:49 AM

There's a good diagram on this web page that shows track connections and some of the freight houses.  From what I remember the B&O freight house wasn't located in the Grand Central footprint in later years, though at one time there were both in- and out-bound freight houses. You can see the Pere Marquette and Chicago Great Western team tracks.  CGW's freight house was located along the river.  Soo Line had its own freight house at Canal Street west of the Chicago River. Rock Island's team track/barge transload was just south of the bridge, but there was no track connection to the Rock Island.

http://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/2016/02/strauss-trunnion-over-south-branch.html

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Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 2:00 PM

B&O used the freight house between Harrison and Taylor Streets south of the trainshed.  Unlike most other downtown Chicago freight houses it only handled pickups and dropoffs, as B&O used its Forest Hill Freight Station on Oakley south of 75th to do LCL transfers.  The yard there still exists, used by CSX as an intermodal yard.  B&O split the incoming LCL and some carloads into several jobs that handled interchange to other carriers and some shippers that had their own sidings.  Soo Line interchange was handled at the Soo Line freight house by the same job that handled Polk St. CGW interchange was handled by a different job that served the Robey and Cicero Districts, interchanging at CGW's Cicero Avenue yard.

http://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/2016/03/b-forest-hill-yard-and-freight-house.html

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Posted by 3rd rail on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 8:57 PM

Ed, I am excited that you are going to do Grand Central! You mentioned that you had some photos, diagrams, etc.. You might already have these, but if not, there are a couple of magazines with good articles on G.C.  The best one is the September 1969 issue of Trains Magazine.. Excellent article by George W. Hilton. Really dives into the architectual aspects of G.C.  Second one is the Issue # 28 (Jan/Feb/Mar 1996) of "The Railroad Press". ( I can't locate the publishers name on the frontispiece, but, there is an address.. 1150 Carlisle St. Suite 444 Hanover, PA 17331). 

  I think I speak for all here, We'd love to see photos of how this project goes.. If you have the space, you really should include the drawbridge over the Chicago River as part of the whole scene.  So, good luck, If I had the space, I'd do the same, but I don't......... 

P.S.  Last time I was up in Sears Tower in Chicago, I could still see the outlines of G.C. But that was about 20 years ago. I think they have built Condos there since then.... 

 

Todd 

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