CHICAGO'S DOWNTOWN STATIONS

Once upon a time, it was said that the world's greatest train watching overpass was Roosevelt Road, one mile south of downtown Chicago. Roosevelt Road began at Michigan Avenue by Central Station, and passed over trackage leading south from Dearborn Station, La Salle Street Station, Grand Central Station, and Union Station. Roosevelt Road is no longer that exciting, but four different stations in downtown Chicago remain in use for Metra and Amtrak.

Click for station track diagrams.


RANDOLPH STREET STATION
Randolph St. and Michigan Ave.
Original station opened in 1856 as Great Central Depot
Intercity passenger trains transferred in 1893 to new Central Station
Modified in 1926 to accommodate electrification of commuter service
Station modernized, renamed in 2007 to Millennium Station

Currently used by Metra Electric and NICTD (South Shore Line) trains

Former Intercity Passenger Railroads



Illinois Central (Illinois Division)               1852-1893
Illinois Central (Iowa Division)                   1888-1893
Michigan Central (NYC)                             1852-1893
Cleveland Cincinnati Chicago & St. Louis (NYC)     1873-1893
Chicago & Alton                                    1856-1881
Burlington Route                                   1856-1881
Pere Marquette                                     1870-1893
Baltimore & Ohio                                   1875-1892


Number of station tracks: 6 stub (lower level-Metra)/6 stub (upper level/NICTD)
Interlocked switches controlled from Randolph Street Tower (1931-early 2000's)

Click for photos.


CENTRAL STATION
Roosevelt Road and Michigan Ave.
Opened April 7, 1893
Closed March 6, 1972

Demolished in 1974

Former Intercity Passenger Railroads



Illinois Central (Illinois Division)               1893-1971
Illinois Central (Iowa Division)                   1893-1971
Michigan Central (NYC)                             1893-1957
Cleveland Cincinnati Chicago & St. Louis (NYC)     1893-1971
Pere Marquette                                     1893-1903
Soo Line                                      1899-1912/1963-1965
Chesapeake & Ohio                             1907-1910/1925-1933


Number of station tracks: 12
Interlocked switches controlled from Weldon Tower


DEARBORN STATION
Polk St. and Dearborn St.
Opened May 8, 1885
Annex station east of main station in use 1914-1940's
Closed May 2, 1971
N&W commuter train used a track west of station 1971-1976

Building preserved

Former Intercity Passenger Railroads



Grand Trunk Western                                1880-1971
Wabash (Decatur Division)                          1880-1971
Wabash (Montpelier Division)                       1893-1933
Chicago & Western Indiana                          1880-1964
Chicago & Eastern Illinois                         1871-1971
Monon                                              1882-1967
Erie                                               1880-1970
Santa Fe                                           1888-1971
Chesapeake & Ohio                                  1910-1925


Number of station tracks: 10 stub (Annex-6 stub)
Interlocked switches controlled from Roosevelt Road Tower

Station was owned by Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad, which opened in 1880, and was jointly owned by several of the later railroads to construct lines into Chicago.

Click for photos.


LA SALLE STREET STATION
La Salle St. and Van Buren St.
Earlier stations built 1852, 1866, 1871 (after Chicago Fire)
More permanent station opened July 1, 1903
Station demolished 1981, replaced by modest station building to south

Currently used by Metra Rock Island District trains

Former Intercity Passenger Railroads



Rock Island                                        1852-1978
New York Central (Lake Shore & Michigan Southern)  1852-1968
New York Chicago & St. Louis                       1882-1965
Michigan Central (NYC)                             1957-1968


Number of station tracks: 13 stub (now 8 stub)
Interlocked switches controlled from Polk Street Tower (1903-1990's)

Click for photos.


GRAND CENTRAL STATION
Harrison St. and Wells St.
Opened December 10, 1890
Closed November 8, 1969

Demolished in 1971

Former Intercity Passenger Railroads



Soo Line                                      1890-1899/1912-1963
Chicago Great Western                              1890-1957
Baltimore & Ohio                                   1892-1969
Pere Marquette/Chesapeake & Ohio                   1903-1969


Number of station tracks: 6 stub
Interlocked switches controlled from Polk Street Tower

Station originally owned by Chicago & Northern Pacific Railroad, a subsidiary of Northern Pacific, which at time controlled the Wisconsin Central Railway, which later became part of the Soo Line. Station sold in 1910 to Baltimore & Ohio.


UNION STATION
Canal St. and Jackson Blvd.
First station opened by Pittsburgh Fort Wayne & Chicago in 1859
First Union Station opened in 1881
Present station opened July 23, 1925
Concourse demolished, replaced in 1969 for new office building
Concourse remodeled 1989-1992
Waiting room preserved

Currently used by all Amtrak trains serving Chicago, along with trains of six Metra lines.

Former Intercity Passenger Railroads



Pittsburgh Fort Wayne & Chicago (PRR)              1859-1971
Pittsburgh Cincinnati Chicago & St. Louis (PRR)    1865-1971
Burlington Route                                   1881-1971
Chicago & Alton/Gulf Mobile & Ohio                 1881-1971
Milwaukee Road (both main lines)                   1873-1971
New York Central/Penn Central                      1968-1971


Number of station tracks: 14 mostly stub (south)/10 mostly stub (north)
Interlocked switches controlled as follows:
Harrison Street Tower: controlled the south end of the station (1925-1999)
Lake Street Tower: controlled the north end of the station (1925-2005)

Click for photos (preserved portion).
Click for photos (newer portion).


NORTHWESTERN STATION
Madison St. and Canal St.
Opened January 3, 1911, replacing Wells Street Station
Station closed August 3, 1984, replaced with new Citicorp Center office building
Renamed in 1997 to Richard B. Ogilvie Transportation Center

Currently used by Metra Union Pacific (ex C&NW) trains

Former Intercity Passenger Railroads



Chicago & North Western (Galena Division)          1911-1971
Chicago & North Western (Wisconsin Division)       1911-1965
Chicago & North Western (Milwaukee Division)       1911-1971
Baltimore & Ohio                                   1969-1971
Pere Marquette/Chesapeake & Ohio                   1969-1971


Number of station tracks: 16 stub
Interlocked switches controlled as follows:
Lake Street: controlled the immediate station area (1911-present)
Clinton Street: controlled the junction outside the station (1911-2001)

Click for photos.


WELLS STREET STATION
Wells St. and Kinzie St.
Opened 1881, replacing earlier station opened in 1853
Station closed 1911

Demolished, Merchandise Mart now occupies location

Former Intercity Passenger Railroads



Chicago & North Western (Galena Division)          1848-1911
Chicago & North Western (Wisconsin Division)       1854-1911
Chicago & North Western (Milwaukee Division)       1855-1911
Burlington Route                                   1852-1856


Chicago's first downtown station was located at Canal St. and Kinzie St., opened in 1848 by Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, the first railroad to enter Chicago. That railroad eventually became part of the Chicago & North Western's Galena Division. The first station at Wells St. and Kinzie St. opened in 1853, destroyed in 1871 by Chicago Fire. A temporary station served until the new station opened in 1881.


Passenger Train Routes - descriptions of the routes used by passenger trains in and out of Chicago, before and after Amtrak's creation.


Station Web Links - further information and old photos pertaining to Chicago's downtown stations.