Chicago Union Station

Chicago Union Station

Fred Ash
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 03/23/2018
Format: Hardback 80 b/w, 29 color illus., 1 map
ISBN: 978-0-253-02729-0
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More than a century before the age of airlines, the windy city of Chicago was already the nation's transportation hub. Tightly linked to its railroads, Chicago Union Station provided a way for passengers to reach cities from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts. In this stunning book, railroad historian Fred Ash tells the story of Chicago Union Station from its beginning in the mid-1800s, when Chicago dominated Midwest trade and was referred to as the "Railroad Capital of the World." From the swing in the political climate that significantly modified the relationship between the local government and its largest landholders, to the competition between railroad companies at the turn of the 20th century, the station continued to be a center for prosperity. Profiling the fascinating stories of businessmen, politicians, workers, and immigrants whose everyday lives were affected by the bustling transportation hub, Ash documents the impact Union Station had on the growing city and the entire Midwest.

Featuring more than 100 photographs of the famous beaux art architecture, Chicago Union Station is a beautifully illustrated tribute to one of America's overlooked treasures.

Author Bio

Fred Ash’s interest in railroads, especially passenger trains, was piqued as a teenager and nurtured after moving to Chicago. After thirty years specializing in nonprofit and government finance, he retired to complete this history that has lain in wait for over twenty years.


“The book includes more than 100 illustrations, a quarter of which are in color—but the real value is in author Ash’s narrative; he’s devoted decades to the study of terminals in the Railroad Capital, and it shows in this marvelous work.”
 — Classic Trains

“"The station’s history is thoughtfully revealed alongside concurrent economic and political events unfolding in Chicago at given points in time, thus providing the reader with a deeper understanding of why certain station milestones occurred when they did and the way they did."”
 — The Michigan Railfan

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Continental Divide
1. Humble Beginnings
2. Coming Together
3. A Depot Worthy of Chicago
4. A Most Public Service
5. Colossus of the Roads
6. City within a City
7. Red Ink in the White City
8. Remodeling the Depot, Remaking the City
Appendix A: Chicago’s Railroad Terminals
Appendix B: Naming Conventions