Chicago Union Station - development plans

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Chicago Union Station - development plans
Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 3:29 PM

         

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 4:12 PM

I concur with Chicao Tribunes architech critic, Mr. Blair Kamins critique. The addition is ok but the exterior's styles clash. Have had a tour of some of the spaces in Union Station this spring, (The basement, the former Fred Harvey Restaurant, The Amtrak Dispatch Facility etc.) I will say the building is an amazing structure. It has issues with the quantity of commuters that overload it during the rush hours and it can get dangerous if there are any significant disruptions to the routine train operations. During rush hour, the BNSF runs eleven car express trains to Naperville twenty two minutes apart carrying over 1,500 people followed by eleven car express trains to Downers Grove also carrying over 1500 peole four minutes later followed by multiple shorter (seven car) trains to closer in stops. Let anything happen and the escalators get backed up. Crowds clog the platforms and the passage ways and it is dangerous. The station has routines to try to control the commuters by diverting them into the Great Hall but as I suspect most of the forums members know, the public gets into its routines and woe to anyone trying to change it. 

Amtrak is trying to use an asset (Union Station) to improve its bottom line by adding useable space to a structure that was designed to be built higher than it is currently. The foundation and existing structure was built to have towers built that never were. Hence, if they build additional space, Amtrak can obtain cash. How the hotel and apartments will mesh with the operation of the railroad remains to be seen. 

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 4:30 PM

when I looked at the picture of the proposed structure yesterday, I almost shuddered at the idea of such aa addition. Electroliner 1935 expresses the problem wonderfully well: the two styles of architecture do not mix.

I do not doubt that building an addition in the same style as that of the original would cost more than building in the proposed style--but the esthetic difference is, to me, horrible. I cast a no vote.

If a part of the structure is built for hotel use, Chicago Union Station would join the ranks of Montreal's Central Station, and the CN station in Halifax. My wife and I enjoyed staying in both of those hotels. (When we arrived in Halifax, my wife asked me about how we were going to get to the hotel, and I told her to walk with me--right into the hotel lobby.)

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 5:36 PM

Deggesty

Montreal's Central Station

A shining example of classical architecture [/sarcasm].

I much prefer the Toronto Union Station approach, keeping the station intact with the hotel across the street.  And the Royal York is a marvel in and of itself.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 6:18 PM

It is awful.  But that portion is really across the street Canal) from the actual station.  The problem is in the subterranean rat's nest used now. It is horribly overcrowded in rush hour.  Perhaps Amtrak should relocate farther south and leave CUS for commuters. 

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 7:43 PM

Dude, I, too, like the station in Toronto. My wife and I stayed in the Royal York three times--and walked under the street to the hotel each time. When we went back to the station the next morning, the bellman took us straight across the street to the station door.

The last two times we were in Toronto, we were passing through from Windsor to Ottawa and back. Going back, we had to take the morning train from Ottawa and the evening train from Toronto, so we found some lunch in the station. Is there a real restaurant in the station or just something similar to MacDonald's?  

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 8:05 PM

I have only passed through Toronto, never spent much time there.  In the little bit of exploring I managed to do the only food service I found was the mall-style food court on one of Union Station's lower levels.  I think it did have a McDonald's.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 8:46 PM

They were gong to construct a modern building on top of New York's Grand Central Terminal headhouse, but the plan was nixed.  If they build something on top of CUS, hopefully it will look something like what the original architect envisioned.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 9:18 PM

MidlandMike
They were gong to construct a modern building on top of New York's Grand Central Terminal headhouse, but the plan was nixed.  If they build something on top of CUS, hopefully it will look something like what the original architect envisioned.

21st Century Architects rarely have the same style visions as their forebarers 90 years ago.

         

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, June 28, 2018 7:21 AM

charlie hebdo

It is awful.  But that portion is really across the street Canal) from the actual station.  The problem is in the subterranean rat's nest used now. It is horribly overcrowded in rush hour.  Perhaps Amtrak should relocate farther south and leave CUS for commuters. 

 
Any downtown station with a substantial suburban service is going to be crowded in rush hour, it's the nature of the beast.  A new location for Amtrak only in Chicago isn't going to happen because there's nowhere to put it and the cost would be prohibitive.
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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, June 28, 2018 10:29 AM

Moving Amtrak away from commuter-train connections would not help Amtrak.  It would inconvenience a sizable fraction of long-distance travlers who use commuter-train connections.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, June 28, 2018 1:33 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

 

 
charlie hebdo

It is awful.  But that portion is really across the street Canal) from the actual station.  The problem is in the subterranean rat's nest used now. It is horribly overcrowded in rush hour.  Perhaps Amtrak should relocate farther south and leave CUS for commuters. 

 

 

 
Any downtown station with a substantial suburban service is going to be crowded in rush hour, it's the nature of the beast.  A new location for Amtrak only in Chicago isn't going to happen because there's nowhere to put it and the cost would be prohibitive.
 

It could be in the Old Post Office, which is only 2 blocks south and is supposedly a target for redevelopment.  A connecting device like the O'Hare ATS.

Of course it would be crowded, but the evening rush hour coincides with many Amtrak departures, making it a mess for them.  That's why moving Amtrak makes sense.  There is one through track now so Hiawatha and EB service would be fine.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, June 28, 2018 1:50 PM

The old Main Post Office is not a real move, it straddles the south approaches to CUS and there isn't anywhere to place additional departure tracks.  Besides, the developer has attracted a sizable tenant (Walgreen's) which may serve as encouragement for others.

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 charlie hebdo on Thursday, June 28, 2018 2:02 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

The old Main Post Office is not a real move, it straddles the south approaches to CUS and there isn't anywhere to place additional departure tracks.  Besides, the developer has attracted a sizable tenant (Walgreen's) which may serve as encouragement for others.

 

All the better.  The platforms could be extending from the building on to the south.  As Burnham said, "Make no small plans."

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Thursday, June 28, 2018 6:08 PM

But the tracks from Union Stations platforms have no vacant ROW for their extension. South side tracks are even numbered (Northside is odd numbers)from #2 on the west that curves east toward the throat with about eleven car capacity. Tracks get longer as you go east and long trains use tracks 18-26. Amtrak did sometimes put two departures on one track (two five car trains with the later departure behind the first) like #16 or #20.One could consider the former mail tracks that were south and east of the passenger platforms (#30-34) and had no access from the station.

But the current layout is a typical terminal plan with passengers accessing the train platforms on the same level as the trains unlike Penn Station in NYC where passengers descend onto the platforms from mezzanines above. The tracks are bounded on the east by the Chicago River and at Union Station, track 2 is under the sidewalk of Canal Street. The North ends of the platforms are at Jackson Street. At the Post Office building, the tracks are at grade, above them are the lanes of the expressway and below them are the tubes of the CTA. There is NO room to expand the track capacity at the current site. 

Here is a old track plan from the 30's for Union Station. The freight tracks are long gone as are the Chicago and Alton Freight House tracks. Also on this site https://chicagology.com/skyscrapers/skyscrapers044/

is a plan of how the Station building was originally planned.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, June 28, 2018 8:06 PM

So instead of worrying about adding a structure on top of existing structures, how to reduce congestion and make the station more functional and attractive inside?

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, June 28, 2018 8:20 PM

daveklepper

Moving Amtrak away from commuter-train connections would not help Amtrak.  It would inconvenience a sizable fraction of long-distance travlers who use commuter-train connections.

 

I agree.  Sometimes my trip begins in the suburbs on the ex-C&NW line.  The walk with luggage between the Northwestern Terminal and CUS is a pain even in good weather.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, June 28, 2018 10:08 PM

MidlandMike

 

 
daveklepper

Moving Amtrak away from commuter-train connections would not help Amtrak.  It would inconvenience a sizable fraction of long-distance travlers who use commuter-train connections.

 

 

 

I agree.  Sometimes my trip begins in the suburbs on the ex-C&NW line.  The walk with luggage between the Northwestern Terminal and CUS is a pain even in good weather.

 



Two blocks to the entrance, three to the gate?  0.3 -0.34 miles.  It's less than a lot of walks at O'Hare to the gate.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, June 29, 2018 7:21 AM

There is also a Madison Street entrance to the Milwaukee Road platforms (north side trackage).  This is diagonally across the intersection of Madison and Canal from North Western Station.

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 kevink on Friday, June 29, 2018 12:30 PM

At the Madison Street entrance to Union Station, there are no elevators or escalators for those with luggage or have challenges with stairs.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, June 29, 2018 12:50 PM

Hasn't some one in the past proposed an underground passageway between North western station and Union station.  That would probably require esculators and elevators at North west station ?  Maybe a moving sidewalk between the 2 station's passageway ?  Might be very advantageous for commuter connections between the 2 stations  as well as Amtrak passengers.  ?

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, June 29, 2018 1:42 PM

In the past four years, I have stayed at the Holiday Inn on the corner of Canal and Harrison--and walked bith ways with my baggage

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, June 29, 2018 3:30 PM

kevink

At the Madison Street entrance to Union Station, there are no elevators or escalators for those with luggage or have challenges with stairs.

 

And you are deposited on the north end of Metra MILW platforms.  Thus one would have to navigate the narrow (currently) platform into the terminal (even worse in rush hour) and then on to the desired Amtrak gate.

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Posted by n012944 on Friday, June 29, 2018 7:03 PM

charlie hebdo
 

 

 



Two blocks to the entrance, three to the gate?  0.3 -0.34 miles.  It's less than a lot of walks at O'Hare to the gate.

 

 

 

Inside with luggage already checked, vs outside dodging traffic with luggage in tow?  Not really a comparison.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, June 29, 2018 7:37 PM

n012944

 

 
charlie hebdo
 

 

 



Two blocks to the entrance, three to the gate?  0.3 -0.34 miles.  It's less than a lot of walks at O'Hare to the gate.

 

 

 

 

 

Inside with luggage already checked, vs outside dodging traffic with luggage in tow?  Not really a comparison.

 

These days many people carry on their bag. Wink

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, June 30, 2018 6:44 AM

Agree with that statement.  On our circle trips over the previous two summers, my wife and I traveled pretty light and got by with just one carry-on, which fit in the bedroom quite nicely.

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 phkmn2000 on Saturday, June 30, 2018 4:51 PM
I read in the WSJ this week that terra cotta is experiencing a revival as a building facade. They should consider this rather than that ugly 1950s style.
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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, June 30, 2018 7:56 PM

charlie hebdo

 

  

These days many people carry on their bag. Wink

 

I'm not a minimalist.

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