“The long shuttered Union Station entrance along S. Clinton Street has reopened ahead of extensive work around the structure. Located at 225 S. Canal Street near the river, the massive station house has seen a long string of renovations as Amtrak works on restoring one of the nation’s busiest hubs. The entrance itself reopened earlier this week after being closed for over 40 years, finally providing western access to the building.
“Union station originally opened in 1925 nearly 100 years ago; these days it contains 30 platforms and 24 tracks serving multiple long-distance Amtrak and six Metra lines.
“With over two million passengers a year, the constricted station permanently closed the Clinton Street entrance in 1980 when a fire decimated the space which previously held a Fred Harvey Lunch Room location. Its windows and doors were bricked up and covered, leaving the charred room intact until recently. (Achong, Chicago YIMBY, 9/27/23)
“The space, between the Great Hall and Clinton Street on the station’s west side, was once the Fred Harvey Lunch Room, part of a national chain catering to rail passengers. It was accessible from within the station before the fire, Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari said.
“Magliari said Amtrak doesn’t have a definitive timeline for finishing the food hall but is in discussions with possible tenants. Amtrak hopes to find a ‘master tenant’ that will market the space to different vendors. The space is ‘roughed in,’ Magliari said, meaning it’s ready for vendors to move in, and then customize the space to suit their needs.
Plans for the food hall follow other renovations to Union Station, which opened in 1925. The Metropolitan Lounge, which offers soft drinks, coffee and snacks for passengers in business class and sleeper cars, opened in 2016, the same year the former Women’s Lounge was revamped to create an event space. A skylight in the Great Hall was restored in 2018, fixing water leaks that had persisted for decades. (Cha, Chicago Sun-Times, 9/25/23)
Preservation Chicago applauds Amtrak for their multi-year effort to renovate and reactive significant sections of Chicago’s Union Station. Preservation Chicago has worked closely with Amtrak’s design and construction team regarding restoration of the Great Hall, Metropolitan Lounge, Women’s Lounge, Men’s Lounge, and former Barbershop.
We have long advocated for the restoration and reactivation of the former dramatic two-story Fred Harvey Restaurant. We played a direct role in preventing a projecting food court balcony from projecting into the Great Hall. We continue to advocate for reactivating or adaptively reusing the long-vacant upper office floors while retaining any remaining historic features.
Chicago Union Station is the last standing of Chicago’s seven great stations and deserves to be treated as the precious landmark that it is. Designated a Chicago Landmark in 2002, it was threated in 2018 with a major addition that would have had a profoundly adverse impact on the historic structure. Preservation Chicago played a leading role in preventing that proposal from moving forward. Additionally, we suggested to stakeholders and decisionmakers the historic building’s buildable FAR be transferred across the street to allow the new construction high-rise to grow taller. This win-win solution is the path that was ultimately chosen.
- New Union Station entrance opens on Clinton Street; Amtrak plans to open a food court near the new entrance. The food hall project was delayed by COVID-19, Phyllis Cha, Chicago Sun-Times, 9/25/23
- Clinton Street Entrance Reopens At Union Station, Ian Achong, Chicago YIMBY, 9/27/23
- Amtrak moving forward with Union Station food hall, new Clinton Street entrance, The new dining and retail complex would open next year, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, 8/7/19
- Union Station to build new food hall in long-vacant space destroyed by fire, Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, Chicago Tribune, 8/7/19
- Amtrak hungers for an upscale food hall at Union Station; The project would restore long-vacant space and improve the Clinton Street frontage, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 8/6/19
- Column: Union Station plans on the wrong track, Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune, 6/26/18
- Column: We’re only stuck with the lousy Union Station design if we fail to rethink it. Let the debate begin, Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune, 6/27/18
- An insult to Chicago’s architectural bona fides, Edward Keegan, in Crain’s Chicago Business, 6/26/18
- Will a proposed addition turn Chicago’s Union Station into the new Soldier Field?, Elizabeth Blasius, The Architect’s Newspaper, 6/26/18
- The Internet Isn’t A Fan Of Union Station Redesign: It Looks Like A ‘Dopey Derby Hat,’ A Fishtank, A Spaceship, Kelly Bauer, Block Club Chicago, 6/28/18
- Developers unveil plan to build hotel, apartments atop Chicago’s Union Station, Jay Koziarz, Curbed Chicago, 6/26/18
- The hidden Union Station: Take a tour, Greg Hinz, Crain’s Chicago Business, 11/11/15
- A look inside Chicago Union Station’s beautifully restored Burlington Room, Curbed Chicago, 11/28/16
- Behind the Black Curtain: Union Station’s Elegant and Forgotten Dining Hall, ArchitectureChicagoPlus, 7/12/13
- Chicago Union Station, a Preservation Chicago 2018 Chicago 7 Most Endangered
- Chicago Union Station 2002 Chicago Landmark Designation Report