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Ambitious Restoration and Redevelopment at Chicago Union Station


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#41 NorthShore

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 03:23 AM

Blair Kamin, architecture critic for the Tribune, repeatedly confused me by referring, inaccurately, to the Great Hall as Union Station's head house. He ought to know better than that, and realize that the original head house was long ago demolished and has been office building-ed over.

#42 George K

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 06:02 AM

 has been office building-ed over.

Best verbing of a noun I've seen in a long time.  :giggle:

 

And, it's the perfect description as well.


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#43 ehbowen

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 08:30 AM

Blair Kamin, architecture critic for the Tribune, repeatedly confused me by referring, inaccurately, to the Great Hall as Union Station's head house. He ought to know better than that, and realize that the original head house was long ago demolished and has been office building-ed over.


I believe that is incorrect; the building with waiting, ticketing and offices is properly referred to as the head house while the area which connects the head house with the individual tracks is traditionally known as the "concourse". It is the concourse of Union Station which was demolished in the early 1970s (IIRC). Droege's authoritative Passenger Terminals and Trains does not settle the matter; he uses the "concourse" term numerous times but "head house" only infrequently; his preferred term for what I am calling the head house is "main building."

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#44 willem

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 09:06 AM

Wikipedia says in its short article on the subject that a head house is "an enclosed building attached to an open-sided shed." It goes on to say that "Head house is most commonly encountered as an American railroad term for the part of a train station which does not house the tracks and platforms."

 



#45 NorthShore

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 07:07 PM

Why not, simply, call it "Great Hall" or "historic waiting room", like everyone else does?

#46 NorthShore

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 07:26 PM

Blair Kamin, architecture critic for the Tribune, repeatedly confused me by referring, inaccurately, to the Great Hall as Union Station's head house. He ought to know better than that, and realize that the original head house was long ago demolished and has been office building-ed over.

I believe that is incorrect; the building with waiting, ticketing and offices is properly referred to as the head house while the area which connects the head house with the individual tracks is traditionally known as the "concourse". It is the concourse of Union Station which was demolished in the early 1970s (IIRC). Droege's authoritative Passenger Terminals and Trains does not settle the matter; he uses the "concourse" term numerous times but "head house" only infrequently; his preferred term for what I am calling the head house is "main building."

Admittedly, the Union Station website agrees with this assessment:

http://www.chicagoun...m/cusfacts.html

http://www.greatamer...chicago-il-chi/

Still, I have a hard time considering a building behind the building that fronts it, a "headhouse."

https://en.m.wikiped...hicago_1924.jpg

https://en.m.wikiped...tation_Plan.jpg

Of course, part of the challenge here is the unusual and unique configuration of CUS as a double stub station, with two buildings rather than one.

#47 jis

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 07:33 PM

Does it really matter what it is called as long as we all agree which part of the built up area we are talking about?

#48 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 07:36 PM

Does it really matter what it is called as long as we all agree which part of the built up area we are talking about?

Of course it matters, for some....  ;)



#49 MisterUptempo

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 11:07 PM

I have a small question, quite trivial, really.

 

In Amtrak's Fiscal Year 2017 Capital Projects List, there is a line item of $4.5 million for "CHICAGO UNION STA HEAD HOUSE DORM ROOMS". Does anyone know what the status of this project might be? Has it started? Is it finished? Will it be abandoned in light of the new development agreement?

 

Like I said, trivial, but I'm still curious.



#50 NorthShore

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 08:24 PM

Does it really matter what it is called as long as we all agree which part of the built up area we are talking about?

I guess it's sort of like watching a movie or tv show, where the locals all scoff and say, "They got that entirely wrong." Or how people not native to an area make references that the locals never would. "Chi-town", for example. It just rings wrong in the ear. Which is all that I was really saying, initially. Keep the ketchup off your hotdog! ;-) Ew!

Edited by NorthShore, 29 May 2017 - 08:25 PM.


#51 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 11:02 AM

To be perfectly honest I've never truly understood what a "head house" is or how it differs from any other enclosed area. It seems to be a term than is so vague in meaning and so rare in usage that it probably confuses more than it clarifies.

Edited by Devil's Advocate, 30 May 2017 - 11:05 AM.

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#52 Eric S

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 11:11 AM

I guess I assumed head house was analogous to the landside portion of an airport terminal, usually containing areas for baggage and ticketing, with the station concourse being analogous to the airside portion of an airport terminal. Of course, this becomes a bit jumbled in the case of Chicago, where until recently Amtrak had few if any services in the head house (Great Hall) area.

 

Then again, maybe I'm mixed up as well.



#53 jis

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 11:16 AM

Yeah, try separating the Headhouse from the Concourse in New York Penn Station :D

 

Or even for example, in Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

 

OTOH, there are many stations where it is relatively straightforward, like for example in Washington Union Station.


Edited by jis, 30 May 2017 - 11:18 AM.


#54 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 04:07 PM

 

The only capacity issue is on the south side of the station, where traffic could relatively easily be rerouted to underutilized Lasalle Street Station if necessary. I doubt such a move would even affect Amtrak trains, but instead the south terminal Metra lines. The old railroad stations with the exception of those currently used by Metra have long been built over and are highly unlikely to be reopened.

 

 

Aren't they shifting some over to LaSalle Street once some track work is done anyways?


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#55 Eric S

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 04:30 PM

 

 

The only capacity issue is on the south side of the station, where traffic could relatively easily be rerouted to underutilized Lasalle Street Station if necessary. I doubt such a move would even affect Amtrak trains, but instead the south terminal Metra lines. The old railroad stations with the exception of those currently used by Metra have long been built over and are highly unlikely to be reopened.

 

 

Aren't they shifting some over to LaSalle Street once some track work is done anyways?

 

Pretty sure the thought has been that Metra SouthWest Service would be shifted to LaSalle if/when the connection is built near 75th St. to link the SWS with the Rock island District line.



#56 MikefromCrete

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 05:26 PM

The plans are to shift the Southwest Service trains to LaSalle Street, but that would require the CREATE rebuilding of the 75th Street and it is quite a ways in the future. It will not be an "easy" shift. 

There are no plans to shift any BNSF or Heritage Corridor trains to LaSalle. 


Edited by MikefromCrete, 30 May 2017 - 05:28 PM.


#57 west point

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 06:08 PM

Amtrak could write the hotel lease for availability of so many rooms per year due to over late train passenger connections. The work on the station should if possible create enough clearances for CAT for electric train services. Maybe some overhead ceilings raised or removed ?

#58 Manny T

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 09:56 PM

And the winner is:  

Today's Union Station, the building containing the Great Hall, is the Head House.

The Concourse was destroyed in 1968, and an office building was built over the tracks. As explained in the following:

Chicago Union Station is in fact, not a station (like Penn Station, New York or 30th St. Station, Philadelphia,) but two stub end terminals back-to-back. The lack of through tracks reduces capacity and makes it difficult to schedule the through trains the region needs.

On the passenger side, a major change in design really messed the place up.

When the station opened in 1925 there were two connected buildings designed to process large crowds efficiently.

The headhouse, on the west side of Canal Street held the main waiting room, ticket counters, customer service and retail.

old_concourse_interior_thumb.jpg
The original concourse was designed to process large crowds quickly and efficiently.

The concourse, on the east side of Canal Street, was dedicated to getting people to their trains efficiently. It had an open floor plan so passengers could quickly identify and move to their gate and queue up for their train.

Then in 1968, the Concourse was demolished. A new concourse was constructed in the basement of a new high-rise office building. The supporting columns of the buildings above severely limited space in the concourse. Then in 1990, the ticket counters, waiting rooms and other passenger related functions were moved into the concourse.

Now, Amtrak, Metra and the City of Chicago are working to correct those mistakes.

 

http://fixunionstation.com/bad.shtml



#59 MisterUptempo

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 11:29 PM

The plans are to shift the Southwest Service trains to LaSalle Street, but that would require the CREATE rebuilding of the 75th Street and it is quite a ways in the future. It will not be an "easy" shift. 

There are no plans to shift any BNSF or Heritage Corridor trains to LaSalle. 

 

The 75th Street Corridor Project Tier I EIS received a Record of Decision in 2014 and nothing has happened since. Money is at the heart of the matter. A recent editorial was published in the Chicago Tribune about the stalled project. Invoking Fair Use, a couple of snippets from the editorial follows.

 

As far back as 2005, an initiative called CREATE (Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency) began planning to relieve congestion around and in Chicago, including at the 75th Street Corridor. CREATE is a partnership of federal, state and city transportation officials, Amtrak, Metra and freight rail companies. Twelve years later, though, the 75th Street Corridor is as congested as ever. Why?

 

One word: money, as in not enough of it. Solutions will be expensive — two flyovers and a grade separation, along with a series of other improvements. Overall price tag: $1 billion. Right now, the goal is to finish design work and begin construction. That would cost $473 million, and CREATE's plan was to divvy up the bill: 41.7 percent paid by state and local governments, 34.8 percent by the feds and 22.5 percent by the freight railroads.

 

To get the federal share, the state, Chicago and Cook County last year teamed up to ask the Obama administration for a $160 million grant. But that request required a commitment from the railroads for their share. The railroads wouldn't budge, says U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Chicago, a strong advocate for fixing the 75th Street bottleneck. "There had been discussions with the railroads, and they did not want to participate in any grant applications," Lipinski tells us.

 

Lipinski and state and local officials kept pressing the railroads to pay their share, and in the waning days of Obama's presidency, the railroads agreed. But with one foot out of the White House, Obama bequeathed the grant request to the Trump administration. It's still pending but, so far, President Donald Trump hasn't shown much enthusiasm for rail projects. His preliminary 2018 budget proposal calls for big spending cuts to mass transit — and projects to unclog freight rail traffic.

 

 

-snip-

 

One project already completed, CREATE's $142 million Englewood Flyover project, separated north-south Metra trains from an east-west rail line used by freight trains and Amtrak. The railroads put up $3 million — just 2 percent of the price tag — while federal and state taxpayers shouldered the rest. CREATE, however, is supposed to be a public-private partnership, not solely a government endeavor. Lipinski says the railroads should shell out more money for CREATE projects.

 

 

The entire editorial can be found at  http://www.chicagotr...0516-story.html

 

Also, Amtrak's You Tube channel provides a great illustration of the problems at 75th Street and the proposed solution.  https://www.youtube....h?v=aer4P5jNrms



#60 NorthShore

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Posted 04 June 2017 - 08:58 PM

Of course, in Chicago, we do have an old intercity train station (Dearborn) headhouse remaining, without a concourse or platforms, as well as a former intercity station (ex C&NW, now UP/Metra commuter) with platforms/concourse but a demolished head house replaced by an office/retail building, and a former intercity station (LaSalle) with platforms, no real concourse, and a building where the head house formerly stood.




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