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Nostalgia & History > Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now


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Date: 11/05/12 23:34
Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: IC_2024

Here's one of my recent attempts at a "then and now" scene... over 43 years separate these two views of Chicago's Grand Central station--one of the first to be razed, and the most preservation-worthy, IMHO...
Anyway, a gray March 1969 view of the long lost terminal and an equally gray day this past October 25th... indeed, it's amazing that these platforms still exist after all these years!






Date: 11/05/12 23:54
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: coach

Wow--that's a great comparison!

I think someday we will really regret losing all these great stations, and our rail services. I know some feel that way now.



Date: 11/06/12 02:45
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: mp51w

Hey that's cool! That was such a classic Romanesque building. It was gone before I had a chance to see it. Always amazed how that piece of land was left undeveloped. Seems like I remember some hopper cars sitting there up into the late 80's, early 90's. Here's a neat angle of the building that I got off the internet.




Date: 11/06/12 05:22
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: refarkas

Thanks for the "then" and "now" shots. So little is left from the first shot, the location could easily be mistaken for somewhere else.
Bob



Date: 11/06/12 06:02
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: bluesboyst

Classic shot... What a grand station.....the train shed was unique....What a damn shame... Love the box cars to the right also...



Date: 11/06/12 06:25
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: rrhistorian

> Seems like I remember some hopper cars sitting there up into the late 80's, early 90's.

These are great photos, thank you for sharing them. Does anyone know the reason that CSX kept cars stored here for so long? I heard it was to make a claim for taxes - I'd love to see a reference to the law behind that.


Does anyone have on-the-ground photos of freight cars being stored in this area?

Thanks.



Date: 11/06/12 06:54
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: mopacrr

Probably wouldn't have been torn down had the preservation moovement gotten started sooner. National Register of Historical land marks really didn't come into ita own until the 80's and a lot of depots and other buildings were torn down that should have been. Only in it once but it was quite a station, and certanly worth preservation.



Date: 11/06/12 07:07
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: WAF

I'm surprised in all these years, some building wasn't planted there



Date: 11/06/12 07:20
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: TAW

WAF Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm surprised in all these years, some building
> wasn't planted there

That was the plan. GC had to go in order to develop the property and make big money for Chessie. Unfortunately, those who think history is irrelevant are condemned to screw up. B&OCT did not own the property. It was leased for some very long time (999 years rings a bell) from the Chicago School District for the purpose of a railway station. A few of us on B&OCT who knew the history knew that they were screwing up, but what did we know? We were only Mere Employees. There was a big rush to get the building torn down only to find that they couldn't develop the property and make a huge chunk of money.

Had management paid attention to what some were telling them, they could have developed the existing building as office space. GC as offices or condos would have huge value today, but alas, in their big hurry to make a lot of money, they lost the opportunity to make any at all.

TAW

THOMAS WHITE
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE, WA
Rail Transportation/Train Dispatchi



Date: 11/06/12 07:21
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: IC_2024

Here's a shot of the old taxicab stand that's still there,too-seen on the north east corner (far left corner of the pic posted by mp51W-thanks!). Would be interesting to see some more shots if anyone has some to share.

I have followed poster TAW's comments with great interest since he has earlier posts of his days at Grand Central--thanks for weighing in here on the Chicago public school lease... had no knowledge of that.

As a personal aside, my old favorite, IC's Central Station, also had platforms (and tracks) that lasted years after it was razed. I remember a RR trade show which regularly featured equipment spotted there, and IIRC, an Amtrak day was held there where an ICG geep pulled superliners for a short ride down to 27th St. or so?!? MIght have been summer 1980?!?

Posted from iPhone



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/06/12 07:40 by IC_2024.




Date: 11/06/12 08:24
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: shoretower

I rode the "Capitol Limited" out of Grand Central in 1969, about a year before it moved to Northwestern Station. I always wanted to ride it to there, just to get the wonderfully circuitous B&OCT route.

But the first time I saw Grand Central was in the summer of 1968. My father took me to Chicago with him on a business trip (it was after school ended), so I could visit Northwestern and the U. of Chicago, two universities I was considering. I did visit the universities, but spent much of my time riding the El and visiting the various train stations. My favorite was Grand Central, but not just because of the architecture. The day I visited, the movie "Gaily, Gaily" was being filmed there. The cab stand was full of vintage autos, the concourse was full of people in early 20th Century dress, and there was a train with a steam locomotive on one of the platform tracks. I stayed to watch the shooting of one scene, where people rushed to and fro and talked excitedly as a party walked off the platform into the concourse. It was like being transported back in time.

When I started at the U. of Chicago in fall 1971, I signed up for a bus tour of Chicago architecture. Grand Central was on the tour, and I was aghast to see that demolition had already started. Of all the Chicago stations, GC was the most architecturally significant, so naturally it got torn down first.

Thanks to Tom Westlake, I now know why the site is still vacant. What a waste!



Date: 11/06/12 08:31
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: patd3985

I remember during the late 1960's & early 70's when Portland, Ore. got on the "urban renewal" bandwagon. They went through parts of town that had houses and buildings built during the 1860's and 1870's! It was sure a shame to see the "march of progress" from the architect's point of view, but I wasn't an architect. I was an antique bottle digger at the time and was digging through old wells, cisterns and privvies like a mad gopher going from yard to yard and lot to lot! I've still got most of those bottles displayed in my den today! All of them are handblown from the civil war era to early 1900's! Man, that was SWEET diggin'!



Date: 11/06/12 08:41
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: IC_2024

shoretower Wrote:
The day I
> visited, the movie "Gaily, Gaily" was being filmed
> there. The cab stand was full of vintage autos,
> the concourse was full of people in early 20th
> Century dress, and there was a train with a steam
> locomotive on one of the platform tracks.


Yes, that was the Rayonier #2 (ex Saginaw Timber, nee Polson logging co 2-8-2) that later worked for Cadillac and Lake City RR in MI. She is currently undergoing restoration at Mid-Continent Rwy Museum in North Freedom, WI.



Date: 11/06/12 08:58
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: colehour

GC was designed by Chicago architect Solon Beman, who also designed the company town (now Chicago neighborhood) of Pullman. One of the homes he designed for wealthy Chicagoans is now the headquarters of the US Soccer Federation, in the Prairie Avenue Historic District.



Date: 11/06/12 10:21
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: Latebeans

I was only in the station once, probably 1966 or 67. I remember thinking then that the place was probably little changed from when it first opened. In those days I did not have the interest in historic architecture that I have now. I was more interested in seeing trains than stations, Grand Central didn't have many trains so I never returned. TAW's account of my this site never got developed was a classic example a short sighted scheme that turned into a big lose-lose deal for everyone.



Date: 11/06/12 11:16
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: Frisco1522

It's all crap now.



Date: 11/06/12 13:58
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: RD10747

In the 1950s, we have fond memories of the Great Station as
a few times we arrived and departed on Sool Line 17-18, the Laker...



Date: 11/06/12 14:06
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: davew833

Hmmm... interesting that they demolished everything else, but left the platforms. I wonder what the logic was there.



Date: 11/06/12 16:24
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: IC_2024

Here are a couple more photos of Grand Central to better appreciate this stately terminal and trainshed and what was lost forever to the wrecking ball in 1971.








Date: 11/06/12 17:36
Re: Chicago's Grand Central station, then and now
Author: aussiehinz

<"In those days I did not have the interest in historic architecture that I have now. I was more interested in seeing trains than stations, Grand Central didn't have many trains so I never returned.">

First off, many thanks to "IC_2024" for such an interesting thread along with the "then/now" documentary. Second, I can certainly relate to the lament "Latebeans" articulated in his post. I recall having being similarly nonchalant when it came to stations and other structures, a mistake I wish I had been smart enough to correct earlier than I did. By the time I started photographing stations with some degree of earnest, many that I actually saw and remembered were already long gone. I felt the same way about Fort Street Union Station in Detroit that several here have expressed toward Chicago's Grand Central. It was a classic old building, completely vacated on Amtrak Day in May, 1971, and sat forlorn and vandalized until the wrecking ball came swinging three years later in early 1974; another architectural victim of shortsighted planning and indecision.



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