Dearborn Station

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Dearborn Station
Dearborn Station from west.jpg
Dearborn Station head house, 2006
Dearborn Station is located in Chicago metropolitan area
Dearborn Station
Location47 West Polk Street
Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates41°52′19.78″N 87°37′41.89″W / 41.8721611°N 87.6283028°W / 41.8721611; -87.6283028Coordinates: 41°52′19.78″N 87°37′41.89″W / 41.8721611°N 87.6283028°W / 41.8721611; -87.6283028
Built1883; 137 years ago (1883)
ArchitectCyrus L. W. Eidlitz
Architectural styleRomanesque Revival
NRHP reference #76000688[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMarch 26, 1976; 43 years ago (1976-03-26)
Designated CLMarch 2, 1982[2]
All lines operating into Dearborn Station, except for the Santa Fe, travelled over the C&WI's

Dearborn Station (also referred to as Polk Street Station) was the oldest of the six intercity train stations serving downtown Chicago, Illinois. Located at Dearborn and Polk Streets, adjacent to Printers Row, the station was owned by the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad, which itself was owned by the companies operating over its line. The station is now a shopping mall housing office, retail and entertainment space.

Description and history[edit]

Postcard of Dearborn Station as it appeared ca. 1907.

The Romanesque Revival structure, designed by Cyrus L. W. Eidlitz, opened May 8, 1885 at a cost of $400 to $500 thousand (equivalent to $11.4 to $14.2 million in 2020).[3] 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.[4] Inside the station were ticket counters, waiting rooms, and Fred Harvey Company restaurants.[5][3]

Amtrak (the National Railroad Passenger Corporation) chose to consolidate its Chicago operations at the Union Station. The final intercity passenger train to depart Dearborn Station was the Grand Trunk Western Railroad's International Limited, which departed on April 30, 1971. The arrival of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway's San Francisco Chief and Grand Canyon from California on May 2 brought intercity operations at Dearborn to a close. The Norfolk & Western Railway's Orland Park commuter service, the Orland Park Cannonball, continued to use a platform at Dearborn until 1976.[4]

By 1976, Dearborn Station's train shed was demolished and tracks were removed; the head house building was retained. The train station stood abandoned into the mid-1980s when it was converted to retail and office space.[3] The former rail yards were converted for use as Dearborn Park.

Tower Detail


The Kansas City Chief at Dearborn Station on February 5, 1968

As of 1920 the Dearborn Station served as a terminal for 25 railway lines, serving 17,000 passengers daily on 122 trains.[3] Some of the railroad that served the station include the following, with some of the more well-known name trains listed:

The following commuter rail services also operated from the station:

Preceding station Erie Railroad Following station
Terminus Main Line Marion
47th Street
Preceding station Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Following station
McCook Main Line Terminus
Preceding station Grand Trunk Western Railroad Following station
Terminus Main Line 47th Street
toward Port Huron
Suburban Service 47th Street
toward Valparaiso
Preceding station Wabash Railroad Following station
47th Street
toward Bement
BementChicago Terminus
Terminus ChicagoToledo 47th Street
toward Toledo
Preceding station Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad Following station
toward Evansville
Main Line Terminus
toward St. Louis
ChicagoSt. Louis
Preceding station Monon Railroad Following station
Terminus Main Line 47th Street
toward Louisville

In popular culture[edit]

The station's train shed being demolished in May 1976; the "head house" can be seen at the rear

In blues musician Henry Thomas' 1927 song "Railroadin' Some", the "Polk Street Depot" is the next to last stop on a journey that begins in Fort Worth, Texas, and ends in Chicago.

Dearborn Station is mentioned multiple times in the 1974 "Adam's Ribs" episode of M*A*S*H, in which Hawkeye Pierce craves the barbecued ribs from a fictional restaurant adjacent to the station, but can't recall the name. He calls the station master from South Korea to get the restaurant's name and phone number. He incorrectly calls it the "Dearborn Street Station".

"Dearborn Station" is a song by the rock band Fortune that was released in 1985.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 15, 2006.
  2. ^ "Chicago Landmarks - Dearborn Street Station". 2010. Retrieved 22 Feb 2010.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b c d Cameo, Valerie Felice. "The Dearborn Station: Historic Elegance". Retrieved 9 Jan 2015.
  4. ^ a b Holland, Kevin J. (2001). Classic American Railroad Terminals. Osceola, WI: MBI. pp. 70–71. ISBN 9780760308325. OCLC 45908903.
  5. ^ Foster, George H.; Weiglin, Peter C. (1992). The Harvey House Cookbook: Memories of Dining Along the Santa Fe Railroad. Atlanta, Georgia: Longstreet Press. p. 150. ISBN 1563520338. OCLC 27091379. Retrieved 9 Jan 2015.
  6. ^ "Chicago & Eastern Illinois Railroad". Official Guide of the Railways. New York City, New York: National Railway Publication Company. Jan 1904. p. 700. Retrieved 9 Jan 2015 – via
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ "Suburban Time Table". Chicago and Erie Railroad. 16 Sep 1900. Retrieved 9 Jan 2015.
  9. ^ "Fortune - Fortune [1985] lyrics". Retrieved 9 Jan 2015.


External links[edit]