Route 66 #1

Route 66 #1
Route 66 Museum

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Mausoleum of Luxury and Glamour

The 1970's where a hard time in Chicago. The railways that once populated the city, and made it the nations hub where vanishing and assumed to be near extinction. Land developers looking to make a grab for the valuable downtown property occupied by tracks grabbed whatever they could. Many made a grab for the air rights over the rails, too anxious to wait and see if the railways would meet their demise. The terminal building across Canal from Union Stations Great Hall would be ripped from the Earth, and a massive office building constructed above the tracks, a story that would happen all above the Northbound tracks of the old Milwaukee Road. 

In to the 1980's such practices where common but the results always the same, air rights granted and bought but the tracks remained. But their where a few exceptions, one of which was Dearborn Station. Dearborn Station itself still stands and is currently in use, but its tracks where taken out and land used for residential property quickly.

The yards that connected to the stations South end. These are long gone replaced with residential properties. 

Amtrak had possession on Santa Fe's rights to Dearborn station only two days before they would close its doors. At that point it's fate seemed to be sealed. Other stations in Chicago no longer serving trains like Central, and Grand Central stations where ripped down almost immediately after train service stopped. 

Somehow though through a twist of fate and a need to save such historic building Dearborn station itself managed to be spared the wrecking ball, its train shed and tracks wouldn't be that lucky. In 1976 an urban renewal project spearheaded by the City of Chicago would take place and the track and train shed would be removed to make way for housing in a new neighborhood aptly named Dearborn Park. 

The station itself would sit almost abandoned all the way through the 1980's with rumors still abounding that the building would meet its fate by the wrecking ball. Finally in 1986 with an 11th hour decision was made to save the station as a historical landmark. But the station facility was to large to maintain in its original form. Sadly although the building would be saved the station interior would be almost completely remodeled to for use as professional offices and retail space. 

Entering Dearborn Station today reminds me of entering a lot of other historic train stations around the country long abandoned by train service. There is little sign trains ever came here as dentist offices and jewelry stores now occupy spaces where passenger waiting rooms, newspaper stands, and ticket booths once use to sit. You can no longer feel the excitement a train travel, or the sense of poshness that once was felt here in the days of the Super Chief. 

So in 2013 Dearborn Station stands like any other mausoleum, with only a few to 
remember what once use to occupy the 

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