150 Years on the Rail
Although Evanston, Illinois is not the typical streetcar suburb or bedroom community, the rails that ran through it played a major role in transforming it from a sleepy rural farming community into the “Athens of the Northwest.” That legacy lives on to this day; in an age when many suburban communities barely have bus service, not one but two passenger rail lines serve Evanston. Yet the public transportation system that remains today is but a shadow of what once existed.
As a child growing up in Evanston, I would
often wait at the Main Street Chicago &
North Western station for my father, who rode the double-decker cars to
work in downtown Chicago. While I waited, I would occasionally pass the
time by placing
pennies onto the rails and, as I watched from the weeds, the big diesel
locomotives would come along and flatten them.
In later years, I discovered an abandoned passenger platform near Mulford Street:
it had been abandoned?
And why? Then I noticed that in old photographs of the downtown area,
such as this one,