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CUSCO CUS Concourse Building Chicago IL 1965 View Looking Northeast Coll Museum Of The American Railroad JEH Coll

I have always admired the design of this structure. this is the Concourse Building of Chicago Union Station in downtown Chicago, IL. It was located just east of the more well-known Head House of CUS, seen in the background. It was located on the west bank of the Chicago River South Branch, between Adams and Jackson Streets, just west of downtown Chicago.

CUS was built in 1925, and replaced an earlier station built on the same site. It was designed by the legendary architect Daniel H. Burnham (who worked for the firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst and White). Burnham was the man responsible for the grand “Chicago Plan,” which devised the urban landscape that was responsible for a great many famous Chicago buildings. Chicago Union Station was owned by Chicago Union Station Company, which was in turn owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad; Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad; Michigan Central (New York Central) Railroad; Chicago & Alton Railroad (Gulf, Mobile & Ohio); and the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad. It was built on land owned by Pennsylvania Railroad’s subsidiary Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne & Chicago Railroad. Although the MC was party to the construction agreement, they later opted to keep using the Illinois Central Railroad’s terminal at 12th Street.

The monumental, Neo-Classical station combined elements of classical architecture and then-current technological innovations, that have stood the test of time. The station’s ornate “Beaux-Arts” main building is considered one of this country’s most beautiful public buildings, featuring a vaulted waiting room, with a ceiling that stands over 100 feet high. The station in its heyday operated over 300 trains daily and served well over 100,000 passengers.

The concourse building was demolished in 1969 and, indeed, the entire structure was once similarly threatened. However, it was decided that the Headhouse would be saved. It has undergone several signifigant renovations and today serves both Metra commuter trains and Amtrak’s intercity fleet proudly. Today, the structure serves almost 60,000 daily passengers. 1965, Collection of the Museum of the American Railroad, James E. Humbert collection.