Dearborn Station (also referred to as Polk Street Station) was the oldest of the six intercity train stations serving downtown Chicago during the heyday of rail in the twentieth century and has since been converted into office and retail space. Located at Dearborn and Polk Streets, the station was owned by the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad, which itself was owned by the companies operating over its line.
Description and history
The Romanesque Revival structure, designed by Cyrus L. W. Eidlitz, opened on May 8, 1885. The three-story building's exterior walls and twelve-story clock tower were composed of pink granite and red pressed brick topped by a number of steeply-pitched roofs. Modifications to the structure following a fire in 1922 included eliminating the original pitched roof profile. Behind the head house were the train platforms, shielded by a large train shed. Inside the station were ticket counters, waiting rooms, and one of the legendary Fred Harvey Company restaurants.
The station was closed on May 2, 1971, as the first step of Amtrak's consolidation of Chicago's remaining intercity train operations at Union Station. By 1976, Dearborn Station's trainshed was demolished and tracks were removed. However, the headhouse building escaped the fate of several other Chicago stations like Central Station and Grand Central Station, which were both demolished. The train station stood abandoned into the mid-1980s when it was converted to retail and office space. The former rail yards provided the land that is now known as Dearborn Park.
Dearborn Station served as terminal for the following railroads, with some of the more well-known name trains listed:
- Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway — the Chief, Super Chief, El Capitan, and Grand Canyon Limited (to name but a few) to Los Angeles; the Texas Chief to Galveston/Houston; the Antelope to Oklahoma City; the Kansas Cityan (and its eastbound counterpart, the Chicagoan) to Kansas City and the San Francisco Chief to San Francisco, California. Although the Santa Fe by far operated the greatest number of trains from the station, it was only a tenant.
- Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (moved to Grand Central Station February 28, 1925).
- Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad — Cardinal, Zipper and Silent Knight to St. Louis; Dixie Flyer to Evansville. From July 31, 1904 to August 1, 1913, Chicago & Eastern Illinois trains used LaSalle Street Station.
- Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railway (Monon) — Hoosier and Tippecanoe to Indianapolis.
- Erie Railroad (Erie Lackawanna Railway from 1960) — Erie Limited and Atlantic Express to New York City.
- Grand Trunk Western Railroad — Maple Leaf, Inter-city Limited and International Limited to Toronto and Montreal. Mohawk to Detroit.
- Wabash Railroad (Norfolk and Western Railway from 1964) — Blue Bird and Banner Blue to St. Louis.
The following commuter rail services also operated from the station:
- Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad (until 1935) — operated from Dearborn Station to Crete, Illinois.
- Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad (until 1964) — operated between Dearborn Station and Dolton, Illinois, serving mostly local stops within Chicago's far south side.
- Erie Railroad — operated from Dearborn Station to Rochester, Indiana.
- Grand Trunk Western Railroad (until 1935) — operated from Dearborn Station to Valparaiso, Indiana (later service was cut back to Harvey, Illinois).
- Wabash Railroad (Norfolk and Western Railway from 1964) — used a track west of the station until 1976, when moved to Union Station); now Metra's SouthWest Service.
In popular culture
Dearborn Station is repeatedly mentioned in the 1974 "Adam's Ribs" episode of M*A*S*H, in which Hawkeye Pierce raves about the barbecued ribs at a fictional restaurant located across the street from the station, and calls the stationmaster from South Korea to get the restaurant's phone number.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15.
- "Chicago Landmarks - Dearborn Street Station". 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
- Official Guide of the Railways, September 1904, p. 707
- Goss, William Freeman Myrick, Smoke Abatement and Electrification of Railway Terminals in Chicago. Report of the Chicago Association of Commerce, Committee of Investigation on Smoke Abatement and Electrification of Railway Terminals, Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry, 1915, p. 505
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dearborn Station (Chicago).|
- Dearborn Street Station (Fred Harvey Exhibit)
- Dearborn Station Directory
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. IL-6, "Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad, Dearborn Station Trainshed"
- Property Valuation Map of Dearborn Station in 1953 (Requires DjVu plugin)
|Preceding station||Erie Railroad||Following station|
toward Pavonia Terminal
|Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway|
toward Los Angeles
toward Los Angeles