“Chicago’s old passenger railroad stations for decades acted as the city’s front door, where people from all over the country arrived seeking out a better life – or just the thrills of the big city. Geoffrey Baer takes us back to the golden age of rail travel in this week’s Ask Geoffrey.
“Could you do a story on the old train stations that once stood in downtown Chicago? – Larry G., Skokie
“In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, millions of people traversed the United States by train, with Chicago acting as a central hub for the entire country.
“It’s hard to believe, but as late as the early 1960s, there were six major passenger train stations serving downtown Chicago.
“Today all passenger trains that come into the city from beyond the suburbs go through Union Station, which is now owned by Amtrak.
“Its beaux-arts design recalls the grandeur of rail terminals in those glory days, designed to wow the traveler the way many airports do today.
“That was certainly the goal of another neo-classically designed terminal owned by the Chicago and Northwestern Railway which stood at what is today Ogilvie Transportation Center, currently operated by Metra.
“The newer version of the station opened in 1911, and included ornate concourses, waiting rooms and even dedicated spaces for barbers and hairdressers.
“The Chicago and Northwestern Railway traced its roots to Chicago’s very first railroad, the Galena and Chicago Union, established in 1848 by Chicago’s first mayor William B. Ogden. (Baer, WTTW Chicago, 3/11/21)’