Some words of praise for the train station

Union Station

Some friends of mine were on their way back from Ohio to Minnesota by train and had a 5-hour layover at Union Station. If it had been O’Hare or Midway — oh well, how nice that you were technically in the same town as me for a few hours, too bad we couldn’t visit. But Union Station is a different story — I hopped a bus down from North Michigan and had a pleasant lunch with them.

Not only is the train station right downtown, but it’s just so much more inviting. There was a little sign warning me that only ticketed passengers were allowed past this point — no visitors! — but no one gave me a second glance or asked me how many ounces of fluid I was carrying as I went to meet my friends at gate B. And the food court isn’t half-bad. My friends are back-and-forth often enough that they always have a buy-10-get-1-free card for the smoothie place.

If you’re a Metra rider, you don’t need to come over to the western half of the building at all, but it’s totally worth it to walk through the Great Hall, which just screams (in an incredibly quiet and dignified tone) classic railway station, with those pew-like seats nearly lost in the vast expanse of floor and the gorgeous ceiling a thousand feet above.

5 Comments so far

  1. spudart (unregistered) on January 5th, 2007 @ 12:18 pm

    I wonder if back in the day the great hall was a bustling place full of people taking the train.

  2. sten (unregistered) on January 5th, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

    My GF and I took Amtrak to New Orleans for New Years- it was about 19hrs overnight, and with an upgrade to first-class accommodation, still about $50 cheaper than flying coach. The leisurely and beautiful train ride was the real attraction, but not having to deal with TSA crap was a great fringe benefit. We flew back, but MSY is much calmer than ORD, so we got to avoid some of the flying awfulness. The train is great, worth at least looking at for travel.

  3. Marc (unregistered) on January 5th, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

    That’s awesome news Sten, I just booked a trip to New Orleans via Amtrak and told people the same thing about it being about the same amount as coach for 1st class. I’m really looking forward to my trip now, just by your comment.

  4. ironic1 (unregistered) on January 6th, 2007 @ 2:59 am

    I’m that friend who Fuzzy came to visit in the station and I have always prefered train to plane when I have the time, doubly so after the advent of the TSA. A couple years ago I took a train ride out to Portland to visit some friends and flew back. The trip out was leisurely and pleasant with beautiful scenery. The trip back through the airports was horrible.

    Now, there are many downsides to train travel, but Chicago Union Station is not one of them. My kids and I always look forward to laying over at Union Station and moreso when Godpapa Fuzzy pays a visit.

  5. Mr. Smith (unregistered) on January 8th, 2007 @ 4:53 pm

    Plus, you can re-enact that scene from The Untouchables there.

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