Home Open Account Help 249 users online

Western Railroad Discussion > Railfanning Chicago's Lake Street Tower/Canal Street


Date: 03/12/08 14:23
Railfanning Chicago's Lake Street Tower/Canal Street
Author: Sasquatch

Hi All,

I may be in Chicago sometime in June, and one of the places I'd like to visit is the area around Lake Street Tower on Canal Street. I've seen great photos of Metra trains with neat glass buildings in the background that were taken there. I was wondering if anyone might know when the best time to visit this site is? Is the morning commuter rush better for photos, or the afternoon rush? And are there any security concerns there that I should know about to avoid troubles with the locals or law?

Any help is much appreciated...thanks!

--Tom



Date: 03/12/08 14:28
Re: Railfanning Chicago's Lake Street Tower/Canal Stree
Author: toledopatch

Definitely go for the afternoon rush. I did that for an evening about five years ago and it was a blast. I was with three other fans and we didn't encounter any harassment, but your experience in that regard may vary considering that it is a big-city environment.

We took photos around the crossing there for 60-90 minutes, both from ground level and a second-story parking accessible on foot by a ramp, then relocated a mile or two west to another crossing where you could frame the shot with an ex-PRR signal bridge and have the Chicago skyline in the distance.



Date: 03/12/08 15:04
Re: Railfanning Chicago's Lake Street Tower/Canal Stree
Author: jackpot

A fabulous place for an afternoon repast.

We hit both 16th st. tower south of Lasalle St. for views of the city skyline of departing/arriving Metras, then zipped up Canal St., past the two temples of the passenger trains, and sat in the parking lot of a tire distributor just north of the tracks off Canal St. south of Kinzie St. and watched the show. The building had a steep ramp up to a second-floor parking lot (which was chained off) which was easy to walk up and take some nice elevated views of trains arriving and departing. At one time, with the train on the ex-MILW and the elevated ex-CNW to the right, we had seven trains moving at once.

We didn't make the short trip since we were ignorant of them being there, but if you go west on Kinzie less than a dozen blocks to Racine St. there's a multi-track iron signal bridge with Pennsy position-light signals with a great city backdrop.

Have fun!



Date: 03/12/08 16:12
Re: Railfanning Chicago's Lake Street Tower/Canal Stree
Author: kevink

The previous posters have covered the essentials. I will add that the photo angles at Canal Street are a bit tighter due to recent high-rise construction. You should not have any issues with security as long as you stay off the railroad right-of-way. The neighborhood is perfectly safe during daylight as the recent boom in condo construction has greatly increased pedestrian traffic through the area. Parking is a bit tougher as well. Many of the area parking lots are falling victim to the high-rise craze.

If you decide to head west on Kinzie to see the signal bridge at Racine, be aware that the neighborhood is a little rougher, not bad but do pay attention to your surrounding. Also, Kinzie Street west of DesPlaines is quite literally falling to pieces. I'm expecting to get notice-to-proceed on the design for the reconstruction of this street. The pavement was pretty bad last summer when I looked at it, I can't imagine it's any better now with all the pothole-inducing weather we've had.



Date: 03/12/08 19:58
Re: Lake Street Tower/Canal Street
Author: PumpkinHogger

If you want to go to the upper level of the tire garage, at least ask them if it is ok, one of these days someone is going to screw that up for everyone else. Whenever I did ask they always said sure no problem. Let's keep it that way.

My late friend Mike Abalos was down that way one morn a few years ago to shoot the UP E's coming out of Northwestern Station, he got the tire guys to let him up on the roof of the adjacent storage building and got some great shots looking down on the fan of tracks with the E's and their train all strung out.



Date: 03/13/08 06:22
Re: Lake Street Tower/Canal Street
Author: galenadiv

A few years ago, I was shooting at the Canal Street crossing with the gates up and no bells or lights when a Metra policewoman ordered me to move. I came back the next morning and there was another Metra police officer there, but he couldn't have cared less. I think there was a grade crossing safety campaign going on mainly focused on the cars using Canal Street.

Just a bit of history. The very first train in Chicago, which was operated by the Galena and Chicago Union, a C&NW predecessor, left from Kinzie and Canal. It came across the lake on a barge and was unloaded there. There used to be a plaque on that spot, laid by former Mayor Richard J. Daley in 1973 on the 125th Anniversary of the first train. I have no idea what happened to the plaque, but the Pioneer, the locomotive that pulled that first train, is on display at the Chicago History Museum and is one of the oldest surviving steam engines in the country.



Date: 03/13/08 07:31
Re: Lake Street Tower/Canal Street
Author: greendot

galenadiv Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Just a bit of history. The very first train in
> Chicago, which was operated by the Galena and
> Chicago Union, a C&NW predecessor, left from
> Kinzie and Canal. It came across the lake on a
> barge and was unloaded there. There used to be a
> plaque on that spot, laid by former Mayor Richard
> J. Daley in 1973 on the 125th Anniversary of the
> first train. I have no idea what happened to the
> plaque, but the Pioneer, the locomotive that
> pulled that first train, is on display at the
> Chicago History Museum and is one of the oldest
> surviving steam engines in the country.

Yes, the "Pioneer" (a 2-2-0) is preserved in the Chicago Historical Society building. It was the first steam locomotive to operate in and out of the City of Chicago in 1848, which makes it the first locomotive operated by the G&CU, and therefore the C&NW, and by extension through the mergers ... the UP "family". It was also the first locomotive operated by the Aurora Branch Railroad, between Turner Junction (now West Chicago) and Aurora, when that railroad started operating in (1852?). Which makes the "Pioneer" the first locomotive to operate in the BNSF "family".



Date: 03/13/08 07:51
How About Coaling Towers?
Author: Sasquatch

Thanks guys, that is some great information, and I sure appreciate it. And great history on the "Pioneer" being "first of family" for the two major western railroads...what a hoot! I love turns of history like that.

Now for another question I was wondering about...an older friend told me he thought he remembered an old coaling tower still standing near BNSF's yard in Chicago--I think he may have been referring to Cicero Yard, though I'm not sure. I was wondering if that was still true, and if so, was a good shot to be had there? Is Cicero Yard worth looking into?

Thanks once again for your assistance with my questions 8^D

--Tom



Date: 03/13/08 09:44
Re: Lake Street Tower/Canal Street
Author: jackpot

PumpkinHogger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> If you want to go to the upper level of the tire
> garage, at least ask them if it is ok, one of
> these days someone is going to screw that up for
> everyone else. Whenever I did ask they always said
> sure no problem. Let's keep it that way.
>
>

That is correct. When we went there, everyone had gone home for the day. Here's the view:




Date: 03/13/08 18:03
Re: Lake Street Tower/Canal Street
Author: PumpkinHogger

Man that view has sure changed since those once-vacant lots were built on, can hardly see across the river, used to be a nice wide open scene. Pretty hemmed in now.

jackpot Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> That is correct. When we went there, everyone had
> gone home for the day. Here's the view:



[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.0569 seconds