One of the most famous train and transport hubs in the United States, Chicago’s Union Station is a destination in itself. The location is so impressive that The American Planning Association voted Union Station’s Grand Hall as one of America’s “Great Public Spaces” in 2012. With twenty sets of tracks converging at the station, around 50,000 passengers pass through this massive station each day. While this is quite impressive, it is actually only about half as many as the number of people who utilized it in the 1940s—the heyday of train travel.
The first thing passengers see when they step off a train in Chicago is the visually stunning Grand Hall. This awe-inspiring space features 112-foot ceilings, vaulted skylights, marble floors, huge Corinthian columns, grand balconies, staircases, and oversized furniture. While impressive by description, it is a space that you must see in person to appreciate fully.
Built in 1925, Daniel Burnham designed Union Station. The over-the-top design, Beaux Arts style and beauty, bring to mind the uninhibited mood of the “Roaring Twenties.” This grand design did not happen by accident. When train travel was more popular amongst commuters and travelers in the US, Chicago held an extremely important position in the world of train transport. It was the most important central hub between the East and West. Today Amtrak and Metra (Chicago's commuter and suburban rail services) utilize many of the twenty tracks that converge at the station.
While some people find themselves visiting Union Station at the start or finish of a journey by rail, there is beauty, history, and fun in the building itself. Visitors to Union Station feature a wide variety of shopping and dining options, as well as travelers’ necessities.
The waiting room and Great Hall are open each day from 5:30 a.m. to 12:40 a.m. Ticket agents are on hand to assist customers looking to travel by rail. Union Station is a transfer point for all types of public transportation to the city. Whether you make it your destination or you are just passing through on a longer trip, you and your family are sure to appreciate the wonders of Union Station.
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