Dearborn Station, 47 W. Polk St. (1885-Present)
Chicago's oldest existing train station was designed by architect Cyrus L. W. Eidlitz in 1885. The original clock tower was a Flemish design that stood at the south end of Dearborn Street until a 1922 fire destroyed the tower and the hipped roof of the station. It was replaced by the current Romanesque design and a flat roof in 1923.
Dearborn Station, also known as Polk Street Station, was built for the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad at an estimated cost of $400,000-500,000. In 1887, the station became the Chicago hub for the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. The station also was host to the Wabash, Grand Trunk, Monon Route, Erie, and Chicago & Eastern Illinois railroads among others.
In 1899, the station was host to 25 railroad lines, 122 trains, and approximately 17,000 passengers per day. By 1967 automobile and airline travel had diminished railroad travel to such an extent that the Santa Fe Railroad eliminated three of its seven daily departures from the station, and four of the five other tennants ended most of their daily runs. Santa Fe railroad service continued at the station until Amtrak moved remaining passenger operations to Union Station on May 1, 1971.
Above: The demolition of the Dearborn Station train shed in May 1976. The Lee jeans advertisement on the building to the left is still visable 35 years later. The area once occupied by the train shed is now a park in the Dearborn Park development.
In 1976, Dearborn Station's acres of approach tracks and its giant train sheds were demolished to make way for a new and experimental concept in urban renewal known as Dearborn Park. The heavily landscaped mixture of townhouses, mid rises, and high rises was based on a master plan created by architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. The irreplaceable Dearborn Station was named to the National Register of Historic Places on March 26, 1976 and subsequently transformed into a shopping galeria and offices with 120,000 square feet of leasable space.
Sources: AIA Guide to Chicago, Dearborn Station, Wikipedia.
Photos Courtesy Wikimedia, Library of Congress, John C. Thomas.
Chicago's Passenger Railroad Stations of the 20th Century
Dearborn Station - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia