I’m so embarrassed. I lived across the street from Dearborn Station for two years, and I never knew there was an amazing jazz club inside! I went to a tap jam for the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, and I couldn’t figure out just where it was supposed to be. That is, until I asked the security guard where to go and he pointed to the very nice sized jazz club located around the corner: the famous Jazz Showcase.
Of course, I started to wonder what else I never knew about the station. Thus, the topic for this week’s ‘Did You Know, Chicago?’.
Dearborn Station is the oldest of the six intercity train stations. The station opened in May of 1885 as one of the city’s most prestigious buildings. It was designed by Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz, a New York architect best known for designing One Times Square.
It quickly became the main hub for the city’s railroad system. It served as the primary facility of the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad, providing service for the Chicago, Danville and Vincennes Railroad, the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad Company and the Grand Trunk Junction Railroad. Approximately 17,000 passengers came through the station daily.
The station beefed up for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Changes were made to the tracks, switches, baggage handling areas and ticket offices to accommodate the anticipated volume of passengers and cargo.
The station became so important to the city that when a large portion of the station was destroyed in a fire in the 1920s, a third story was added and the original pitched roof was changed during the reconstruction.
The 1960s and 1970s saw the demise of Dearborn Station. It officially closed in May of 1971 as part of Amtrak’s efforts to consolodate intercity trains to Union Station. The tracks were removed, but the actual station avoided demolition.
While the station stood abandon, a new urban development was being constructed: Dearborn Park. It was this new neighborhood that brought the Dearborn Station back to life with retail and office developments.
Filed under: Did You Know, Chicago?
Tags: Chicago, Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad, chicago architect, Chicago history, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Chicago jazz, Chicago jazz club, Chicago Quirk, Chicago South Loop, Chicago train, Chicago train station, Chicago union station, Columbian Exposition, Danville and Vincennes Railroad, Dearborn Park, Dearborn Station, Jazz Showcase, Pacific Railroad Company, Quirk, Quirky, South Loop, Union station