If you’ve spent any time in the West Loop, you may have had a chance to completely ignore the western side of Union Station. Whether you were rushing to get the 125 bus, headed to Beggar’s for a slice of pepperoni and a nice side salad, or hoofing it across the Kennedy for a little after-work nightlife, there are plenty of reasons to never look at the western facade of this building.
Since a fire in the 1980’s, the west side of Union Station has been largely blank, and primarily the domain of garbage trucks, meter maids, and the power commuters who knew about the two kinda scary-looking entrances. Which is sad, because it used to be grand.
Thanks to the quarantine, and WFLD’s old movies subchannel (32.2), we’ve had a chance to catch up on all the black-and-white flicks we promised we’d watch someday. In more than one, we’ve been able to see this side of Union Station as it once was: vibrant, important, and almost majestic.
Some of that majesty is coming back. As part of the Union Station renovation-and-hotel-plopping-on-top-and-jamming-inside project, the western side of the building is gaining importance. West Loop Spy Sam sent in these photographs showing some of the work in progress.
When complete, the west side of the building will have three entrances. The north one will connect to the new hotel lobby. A new entrance in the middle of the block will lead through the former Harvey House into new retail spaces and the Great Hall. The south entrance remains the south entrance.
Instead of low, dark tunnels leading from Clinton Street into the building, we’re supposed to get a nice wall of glass storefronts that engage the street, and improve the livability of this slice of the West Loop.
It’ll never be the same as when some badge-flashing gumshoes were muscling a low-life stool pigeon for the bird’s eye low down on a bank heist. But it’ll certainly be better than the dog’s dinner of hard rock we’ve had recently.