Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Central Station, Chicago Terminal. Also known as the Illinois Central Depot.

Not to be confused with Chicago's Grand Central Station or Great Central Station (aka Great Central Depot).

Central Station was an intercity passenger terminal in downtown Chicago, Illinois. It was located at the southern end of Grant Park near Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue. Owned by the Illinois Central Railroad, it also served other companies via trackage rights.
Illinois Central Depot, Chicago. circa 1901
Illinois Central Railroad opened the Central Station on April 17, 1893, to meet the traffic demands of the World's Columbian Exposition, replacing the Great Central Station which was located on the site of the current site of Millennium Station at Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street.
Illinois Central Station. circa 1893
The nine-story building featured a 13-story clock tower and housed the general offices of the railroad. It boasted the largest train shed in the world at the time, which measured 140 by 610 feet.
View of the Central Station and Illinois Central offices from Michigan Boulevard. Postcard circa 1911.
It was closed in 1972 when Amtrak rerouted services to Union Station. The station building was demolished in 1974. The actual site is now a redevelopment plan for high-rise apartment buildings at the south end of Grant Park along South Michigan Avenue. FYI: Central Station is a neighborhood within the Near South Side community of Chicago. 
Central Station in February 1971
The front of Central Station showing the large Illinois Central sign. Note the Magikist sign on the far left (from the mid-1940s).
The rear of Central Station in February 1971, showing the large Illinois Central sign.
Adjoining platforms served the suburban trains of the Illinois Central, electrified in 1926 (now called the Metra Electric Line), and the South Shore Line interurban railroad. Both lines continued north to Randolph Street. 

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.


  1. My dad, Wilmer Thomson; my step-dad, JJ Killian were both switchmen for the IC (Markham Yards) and my mother Frances (Thomson) Killian was a telephone operator.

  2. In 1946, I worked on a farm in Southern Illinois. On my return trip, I transferred from what they call a milk train to the "City of New Orleans" in Carbondale, and arrived back in Chicago in this station.
    There was a shortage of farm help during and right after WW2, and I volunteered. Age 14. A great experience.


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