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Vintage Rail Photo - LaSalle Street Station

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Vintage Rail Photo's

By Craig H. Bluschke

Chicago's LaSalle Street Station 

For your enjoyment,  we have a few pictures of Chicago's LaSalle Street Station all decked out for Christmas of 1981. LaSalle Street's primary tenants were Rock Island and New York Central with the station being the Chicago terminus of the famed Twentieth Century Limited along with the Rock's Rocket fleet and numerous local commuter runs. The upper floors of the building also housed Rock Island's corporate headquarters.

LaSalle Street Station still theoretically still exists today, although the structure pictured here was torn down in the early 1980's and replaced with a high-rise office building that has some small non-descript station space (with all the character of a K-Mart!) at the rear to accommodate METRA's Rock Island District commuter runs.

Photo #1 shows the station's main entrance, which was very difficult to get pictures of since the Chicago EL ran right by the building blocking most of the front. This picture in fact was taken from the adjacent EL platform. The station was a two-story affair with the ticket windows and baggage check located on the ground floor and the main waiting room, trainshed, etc. located on the second floor visible through the windows in the photo.

After walking through the main entrance of the station we see Photo #2 of the lower level. (Sorry about the substandard quality of this pic but it's the best I can do of this area of the station) Rock Island ticket windows are to the right and New York Central's (now closed) to the left. Trains and waiting room are located up the steps straight ahead. By 1981 when this picture was taken New York Central and Pennsylvania had merged to form the ill-fated Penn Central. No longer needing two Chicago stations all of Penn Central's remaining passenger trains were transferred to Pennsy's Union Station, leaving Rock Island as the only user of LaSalle Street with it's extensive commuter fleet. Since the Rock was one of the few railroads that hadn't joined Amtrak in 1971 it's two remaining intercity trains to Peoria and the Quad Cities also called LaSalle Street home.

Photo #3 shows the second-floor waiting room with steps coming up from the ticket area located behind the Christmas tree.

Photo #4 has another view of the waiting room. Somewhat visible behind the gift shop is the curved window seen in picture #1.

Photo #5 shows the train concourse with the waiting room located through the doors to the left and train gates along the wall to the right.

Photo #6 shows the first wave of afternoon Rock commuter trains lined up and ready to go in the trainshed. The trainshed roof, which had been about ready to fall down on it's own, had been removed several years earlier leaving only the support skeleton. Keep in mind that the station's owner was the almost-bankrupt Rock Island which had no money to make repairs so the expedient thing to do was just remove the roof.

For more vintage views of LaSalle Street Station go to Dan Minkus's Vintage Depot Page.


This page was last updated Wednesday, January 03, 2001

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