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Riding the Rails: Chicago's History as a Transit Hub in Photos

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South Water Street freight depot (1939) via the Library of Congress

Terminal Town, an interactive exhibit organized by DePaul University professor Joe Schwieterman and opening at Union Station on November 22, explores Chicago's central place, both geographically and metaphorically, in the country's transportation infrastructure. Based on his recent book of the same name, the historical photo and film display showcases massive terminals and waystations that make a case for the city as a crossroads.

Located at nexus connecting the Great Lakes with rail lines snaking across the country, Chicago has always been a hub, since the Pioneer steamed into the city in 1848 and gave the city it's first glance at a steam locomotive. Chicago's continued growth and convenient location between eastern and western shipping networks made it a kingpin of sorts during the railway age — 11 carriers came into the city by the 1860, and massive infrastructure projects like the Chicago & North Western terminal, the now-defunct Chicago City Railway, the country's biggest intra-city rail network and first outside of San Francisco, as well as expressways and the L, only built upon that foundation.

Inspired by the exhibit and the city's transportation history, we've pulled together an array of images showcasing a city on the move.
Patrick Sisson

[President Taft in Chicago via Library of Congress]

[Waiting room of Union Station (1943) via Library of Congress]

[Union Station waiting room (1943) via Library of Congress]

[Union Station (1943) via Library of Congress]

[Union Station concourse (1943) via Library of Congress]

[Workers cleaning out rail switches on a cold day (1943) via Library of Congress]

[South Water street Illinois Central Railroad freight terminal (1943) via Library of Congress]

[The classification yards of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad (1942) via Library of Congress]

[South Water street freight terminal of the Illinois Central R.R. (1943) via Library of Congress]

[Illinois Central R.R., freight cars in South Water Street freight terminal (1943) via Library of Congress]

[Classification yard at C & NW RR's Proviso 1942 via Library of Congress]

·Terminal Town [Official Site]
·See Chicago's Greatest Transit Hubs at Terminal Town [Chicago Mag]

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