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See Chicago’s Greatest Transit Hubs at Terminal Town

A new exhibit opening November 22 at Union Station celebrates the past and future of Chicago’s plane, train, and bus terminals.

Dearborn Station, circa 1970   Photo: Bob Krone

A traveling exhibit focused on Chicago’s most important transit hubs of the last 75 years is making its way to Union Station from November 22 to January 25. The interactive Terminal Town spans the city’s ever-changing air, train, and bus terminals, putting the spotlight on icons of the past and proposed stations of the future.

The exhibit is the latest passion project from transportation guru Joe Schwieterman, author and professor of public policy and urban planning at DePaul University. “We’re featuring terminals that have been barely covered in the past and those that were truly extraordinary, such as Englewood Union Station and the Chicago Greyhound Station at Clark/Randolph, which was the largest independently operated bus station in the world,” says Schwieterman. “We also show how much has been lost due to demolition.”

Highlights of the 16-panel exhibit will include rare photos of terminals ranging from O’Hare to Millennium Station to the former Dearborn Station and Miegs Field, maps commissioned through a cartographer for Trains magazine, and classic films with Chicago terminal backdrops such as Home Alone and The Blues Brothers. The exhibit will be held in the breezeway linking Union Station’s Great Hall with the ticking concourse, and that’s no accident; milestones reached by Amtrak from the station as well as plans to restore the station to its glory days by moving ticketing back to the Great Hall will also be on display.

The inspiration for both the exhibit and larger festival, which runs through April 2015, is Schwieterman’s latest book, Terminal Town: An Illustrated Guide to Chicago’s Airports, Bus Depots, Train Stations, and Steamship Landings, 1939–Present. “I realized from the start that my book would be in many ways a celebration of Chicago’s role as a great crossroads for bus, plane, and train travel,” says Schwieterman. “Our entire team felt that we needed to do more than publish the book to get the public excited about the city’s remarkable role.”  

Catch a precursor to the exhibit today through November 21 at the Wheaton Public Library, and see a presentation by Schwieterman on Thursday at 7 p.m.

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