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, at the southern end of Grant Park near Twelfth Street (Roosevelt Road, today) and Michigan Avenue. The Romanesque Revival structure, designed by Bradford L. Gilbert, was built and owned by the Illinois Central Railroad. The project boasted of having the "largest train shed in the world," at over 85,000 square feet. 
Illinois Central Depot, Chicago. circa 1901
Illinois Central Railroad opened April 17, 1893, replacing the "Great Central Station" (located at the site of the current Millennium Station), to meet the traffic demands of the World's Columbian Exposition at a cost of $1.2 million ($37.2 million today). The nine-story building featured a 13-story clock tower and housed the Illinois Central Railroad general offices. It boasted the largest train shed in the world at the time, which measured 140 by 610 feet. 
Illinois Central Station. circa 1893
Also sharing the station was the Michigan Central Railroad, part of the New York Central Railroad system, which had shared the IC's terminal from its opening in 1852.
View of the Central Station and Illinois Central offices from Michigan Boulevard. Postcard circa 1911.
It closed on March 5, 1972, when Amtrak rerouted services to Union Station. The station building was demolished on June 3, 1974. It is now a residential development called Central Station, Chicago. 

Central Station is a Chicago neighborhood within the Near South Side community of Chicago.
Central Station in February 1971
The front of Central Station shows 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 Dr. 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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