You should know about this hidden jazz club in an old train station

You should know about this hidden jazz club in an old train station

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.



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  • You'd have to be a jazz fan to know about the club so don't feel bad.

  • In reply to Babs:

    LOL thanks! I want to be a cool, sophisticated jazz fan in theory, but not so much in practice.

  • actually, the jazz showcase has been around for quite some time and, might be the oldest in the city behind the green mill (which dates to prohibition, i think the jazz showcase came about post ww2). it's moved around several times in the last 20+ years, and i think it closed briefly in the early or mid-90's but it's where i've seen some premier national acts (while the green mill is mostly local, albeit great, talent).

    having been born and raised in chicago as well as having lived here most of my life, i chuckle when people "discover" things about the city and "new" neighborhoods. it's good to see how far the downtown area has come, even since my teenage years when downtown was dying (watching "the blues brothers" or other 70's and 80's era movies is always a bit nostalgic) and was actually a place you didn't want to be after dark.

  • In reply to misterchi:

    Thanks for the information! Every time I think I have a handle on all of the incredible things the city has to offer, I stumble upon something that is new to me. I always love to hear from people who have lived in the city their entire lives.

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