How Bad Is Chicagoland’s Transportation System?
Jun09

How Bad Is Chicagoland’s Transportation System?

Chicago is an old city, and when you look at the region’s transportation infrastructure, it looks the part.  Decades of neglect and underfunding have left the region’s and the city’s rails, roads, bridges, and transit in deplorable condition. Tell someone in Finland that the commuter trains sometimes don’t run when it gets to 20 degrees because the switches are heated with open flames, and they’ll think...

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Suburban Train Station Restored and Ready to Begin Another 100 Years’ Service
Apr09

Suburban Train Station Restored and Ready to Begin Another 100 Years’ Service

Editor’s Note: Some of the best architecture in Chicagoland isn’t in the gritty canyons of downtown, it’s out in the prairie towns and villages that ring our fair city. One of those architectural gems is the Metra Stone Avenue station in La Grange. Douglas Ogurek of Legat Architects tells us his firm has completely renovated the 100-year-old station, restoring it to a condition it’s not seen in years. His...

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Great Chicago Walks: Revisiting Classic Rail Stations Past And Present
Aug03

Great Chicago Walks: Revisiting Classic Rail Stations Past And Present

About 50 years ago, I rode on a train for the first time. It was a St. Louis-to-New York City trip. I was a 12-year-old kid. I don’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday and I can’t seem to recall where I left my sunglasses but I do remember small details about that trip. The clackety-clack of the wheels, the whoo-whoo of the whistle. Seeing a man in a suit eating a hot dog with sauerkraut—for breakfast. I still enjoy traveling on...

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Slice of Life: Chicago on a Black-and-White Rail
Jul28

Slice of Life: Chicago on a Black-and-White Rail

They’ve been pared back, decked over, repurposed, and there was even once a proposal to turn the whole shebang into a field of wildflowers; but Chicago’s lakefront railroad tracks continue to carry thousands of people into and out of the city each day. Chris Benning sent in this photograph of the tracks as they glide through Grant Park before slipping under the Art Institute of Chicago and disappearing into the...

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Status Update: Tunnel Vision in the West Loop
Nov19

Status Update: Tunnel Vision in the West Loop

The train tunnel that is an integral part of the River Point development (444 West Lake Street) is chugging toward completion. We got to see the inside of the tunnel a few days ago, and the thing that struck us most was how clean and well lit it is.  But with hundreds of massive diesel engines lumbering through each day, don’t expect it to stay that way. Our Fulton River Spy sent in this picture yesterday, showing progress on...

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City Wants Nearly $1 Billion Facility Linking Metra Rail With O’Hare [updated]
Jun18

City Wants Nearly $1 Billion Facility Linking Metra Rail With O’Hare [updated]

The City of Chicago has unveiled ambitious plans for a $884 million transportation hub next to O’Hare International Airport. In order to make it a reality, the city needs a $242 million loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Considering that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in town last week to announce that the city is welcome to apply for the money, there’s a pretty good chance it will happen. If...

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Week Links: February 17-23, 2013
Feb24

Week Links: February 17-23, 2013

Here’s what else is going up around Chicago: DNAInfo reports that the developer who wants to put up a $220 million project in Uptown is ready to compromise on affordable housing. DNAInfo also has pictures of the proposed new Metra station in Edgewater. Early this week, the TV stations all ran stories that a new hotel was coming to McCormick Place.  There have been lots of hotel proposals for McCormick Place lately, but because...

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Will a Scrawnier Wolf Get Everyone on Point?
Nov05

Will a Scrawnier Wolf Get Everyone on Point?

The current champion for largest and most controversial development in downtown Chicago (that actually has a chance of happening) is making its way through the approval process largely unscathed. Wolf Point (350 North Orleans Street) is the lupine child of Houston-based global mega-developer Hines, and Chicago-based local really-wanna-be-huge-someday developer Magellan.  Their architect, Pelli Clarke Pelli has made some changes to the...

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Slice of Life: Ravinia’s Historic Railroad Station
Sep21

Slice of Life: Ravinia’s Historic Railroad Station

The Ravinia station on Metra’s Union Pacific-North line from Chicago to Kenosha, Wisconsin stands as a stately steward of the rails and trains that pass before it. While there are plenty of recently built and rebuilt Metra stations that look similar, this one is the real deal.  Built in 1889 and designed by Frost and Granger, it is the oldest surviving station on Metra’s northern and northwestern corridors. Today Ravinia...

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Union Station Master Plan Finished
Jun01

Union Station Master Plan Finished

The Union Station Master Plan has been completed, and it doesn’t look all that much different from the proposals put forth by Amtrak, Metra, and the Chicago Department of Transportation at the beginning of the process last year. First, a little background — Union Station is a mess.  Short-sightedness on the part of people in the 1960’s who thought that passenger rail service in America was dying led to infrastructure...

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