• NYC and use of IC's Central Station in Chicago

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by NJTRailfan
How was the old Central Station in Chicago like compared to the Union and GCT in NYC before it was torn down.? Did it have a large retail, concourse and waitign area or not? Anyone have pictures?


  by NYC_Dave
Since you are asking for a comparison to GCT in New York I think you may be looking for information about Lasalle Street Station which was the main NYC terminal in Chicago. The 20th Century Ltd., Pacemaker, New England States, Commodore Vanderbilt, etc. terminated at Lasalle Street. Here are two websites with Lasalle Street info, photos & postcards:
http://www.trainweb.org/rshs/VRP%20LaSa ... tation.htm
http://www.trainweb.org/rshs/VD%20-%20L ... tation.htm

Chicago's Central station was utilized by the Illinois Central ,Michigan Central (NYC), and Big Four (NYC).
"Michigan Central offered service to its home state and beyond via trains such as the North Shore Limited, the Niagara, and the Motor City Special. The New York Central's "Big Four" augmented the Illinois Central's service to the South with its James Whitcomb Riley to Cincinnati, Carolina Special to Asheville, Charlotte, and Charleston, and its Royal Palm and Ponce de Leon trains to Georgia and Florida."
More info and a photo can be found at:
http://chicago.urban-history.org/sites/ ... nt_sta.htm

  by CarterB
Is NJTrailfan also perhaps referring to Grand Central Station in Chicago, which was used by the B&O, Chigago Great Western, Soo and Pere Marquette.

"The Grand Central Station Fronts 228 feet on Harrison Street and 482 feet on Fifth Avenue, at the southwest corner, where its square tower rises to a height of 242 feet, and holds a clock-bell weighing nearly 6 tons. The arches open for carriages, which may themselves enter the building, and the equipment of the whole edifice is regarded with pride by all railroad men and architects. The fore building is 100 feet high, with 7 stories and basement, constructed on Connecticut brownstone, brick terra cotta, and steel. There are 3 elevators. This station is the terminal of the Chicago & Northern Pacific (Wisconsin Central), Chicago Great Western, Baltimore & Ohio, Chicago Central, and Chicago & Southwestern railroads. The seating capacity of the waiting-rooms is 1,800, and 77 trains carry 10,000 passengers daily. The open train-shed, which is 560 feet long, covers 7 tracks, each accommodating 7 coaches and locomotive. This magnificent improvement was completed in 1890, and to serve the depot and not close Fifth Avenue the approach to Polk Street bridge, south of Harrison Street, was turned sidewise, and make architecturally a part of the station."

Web sites for photos on GCS:
http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory. ... 10578.html

Web sites for photos/info on all Chicago stations:

  by AmtrakFan
Could also be asking about Illinois Central Station on the lakefront. NYC used that station for some trains as well.

  by NJTRailfan
I was asking about the old Central Station in Chicago. Sorry for the confusion. I thought I was clear on that point.

  by clehman
Here's a link to a Web site that contains infomation on all the Chicago passenger stations prior to Amtrak: http://hometown.aol.com/chirailfan/staroute.html . Once on the site, click on one of the links below 'Central Station' and it will take you to either the routings or schedule specific to that station. Under "Sample Departures and Arrivals" it lists the IC (first) and NYC-Big 4-MC passenger trains that used Central Station in 1942 & 1956. I was surprised at how many there were! Hope this helps.

  by Otto Vondrak
NJTRailfan- still not clear on what Chicago station you are asking about:

1) LaSalle Street Station

2) Grand Central Station

3) Central Station on the IC


  by NJTRailfan
Central Station o nthe IC. Sorry for the delay Sir. I had forgotten to reply to this one.

  by atlpete
To answer your original question, I.C.'s Central Station was comparatively one of the smaller of the city's stations as far as it's waiting area and ticket "concourse." You could likely fit the entire floor area into GCT's main upper concourse two or three times. It had a nice 40 ft. arched- ceiling waiting room that was unfortunately blanked over with a drop ceiling during a mid-sixties modernization (ugh!) The station was not regarded as very well laid out by comparison to the other Chicago's terminal in part because of a large, very steep and inconvenient main stairway access from the waiting room to track level. That said a large amount traffic went through it up to the end, though by the time I was old enough to pay attention the Central's Big Four it's contribution was down to the 'Riley ( a great train to see foreign road cars on) and the two-car Indianapolis Special. The Big Four trains at the time were somewhat distinctive from IC's and NYC's in that they were exclusively pulled by geeps and usually had stainless equipment.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Regarding Michigan Central trains use of Central Station, I must admit that even pre-dates me (well at least railfanning).

According to a 1951 "Thousand and One", MC trains used Central Station.

Anyone know their routing between the IC and the MC at Porter? was the CSS&SB used or another routing.

Enquiring mind wants to know.
  by edbear
I have MC Detroit, Michigan and West Divisions employee timetable #18, June 7, 1942. MC trains used the IC from Kensington to Central Station. From Kensington to Detroit, MC trains used their own tracks except between Elm & Main Streets, Battle Creek, where they used the GTW.
  by edbear
I got a hunch that the trackage at Battle Creek was industrial trackage. The MC once had a branch from Battle Creek to Allegan which it sold to the Michigan United, an interurban. I'm assuming MC kept some industrial customers. The employee tt which I referenced sure seems to give the MC a sure shot, high speed route from Detroit to Kensington.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Oh ye great NYC historians such as Mr. Bear--

So it would appear that through the '50's, both the separate ROW's of the LS,M,&S (Water Level Route; route of The Century) and the Michigan Central were in place, and that it was not necessary to access the former at Porter (and today's "heavy and slow with stop and go" traffic patterns affecting On Time Performance of any Amtrak train from the East).
  by ExCon90
On a related issue: Trains of the MC and Big 4 leaving Chicago carried even train numbers on their respective railroads, which conflicted with the odd numbers used by IC (and which CSS&SB maintained even on their own railroad), with the opposite situation existing in the reverse direction. Presumably the trains used other numbers from Chicago to Kensington and Kankakee, respectively. (I raised this question on the CN-IC forum awhile back, but without response.) For example, in Buffalo, when PRR 575 from Harrisburg arrived at SS49A it became 5750 for the eastbound move into Central Terminal. That evening, 5741 backed westward to 49A, then dropped the "1" to become PRR 574. Anyone know whether something similar was done on the IC?
  by edbear
Referring to my employee timetables, Michigan Central - Detroit-Michigan & West Divs. and NY Central Western Div., both #55 and both June 7, 1942, The Twilight Ltds. in both directions and Ry Express #139, went from MC to NYC at PO interlocking, just west of Porter and headed to and from LaSalle St. Station. #139 disappears at Englewood. ( Note there is a joint NYC-CRIP LaSalle-Englewood tt which I don't have anywhere near that date.) The connection was apparently there for a long time; there's a severe speed restriction at Porter on the north and south wyes. Does this figure in the routing from LaSalle St. onto the MC? The reason that I've heard that the Twilight used LaSalle rather than Central is that LaSalle is in the heart of Chicago's financial district and the Twilight was a businessman's train primarily. At other times it was the Wolverine which used LaSalle, and the Twilight was operated out of Central in that scenario. Also, the Pere Marquette had trackage rights between PO and NE (between Pine & Buffington), about 18 miles, so PO was a busy spot.*