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For Us, Bonds: 1943

For Us, Bonds: 1943

      Prequel to the poster seen here.

January 1943. "Chicago, Illinois. Union Station train concourse." Medium-format negative by Jack Delano for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Union Station: 2014

My photo below shows the same location as the 1943 photo.

The walkway at the rear of the 2014 photo is the tunnel under Canal Street labeled "Waiting Rooms" in 1943. Pillars have been added to support the 35-story building built above in 1971.

The tunnel leads to the Great Hall, which IS still its glamorous 1925 self.

It may not be glamorous, but the station serves about 140,000 passengers on a weekday in 2014. In 1943 the number was roughly 100,000. Of course, out-of-town traffic was huge in 1943. Today it's 90% commuters, with much less luggage.

The seating on the left of the 2014 photo is in the spot of the newsstand in the 1943 photo (behind the "Information" sign).

Two stations, then and now

About fifteen years after Union Station lost its concourse, the other last great old Chicago station was lost entirely, despite protests: Northwestern Station. The space it occupied is now the Richard B. Ogilvie Transportation Center, above which is a bank skyscraper, both the work of Helmut Jahn. In the Waiting Room in Union Station, about two blocks away, it's not hard to imagine it's 1942 (until you look at the people), and you halfway expect to see GI's boarding trains pulled by steam engines, bound for places halfway round the world with names like Tarawa or Arnhem, which you've never heard of. In the Richard B. Ogilvie Transportation Center, it's definitely 1990, and you definitely expect to see cellphones, sneakers, no smoking signs, and commuters bound for Irving Park or Crystal Lake, and home.

Union or Non-Union

A "Union Station" was a separate company, jointly owned by each of its tenants who used it.

Other "stations" were owned by a single railroad, though other railroads may have made use of it through "trackage rights" agreements. Non owners may also have used a "Union Station", without ownership, through trackage rights agreements.

By the way, in railroad jargon, NONE of these buildings are "stations", but rather they are depots. A station, on a railroad, is a specific point specified by name in the railroads' Employee Timetable. An Employee Timetable names many locations not known in the Public Timetable. A station may, or may not, have a depot. In other words, a station is a location, a depot is a building.

Pink Floyd

Thank you, JeffK, for the link to the 2007 post ( of the Jack Delano photo of the full armada of planes under the ceiling of Union Station in Chicago. One of the commenters there (Jim) notes the video image from Pink Floyd - The Wall (1982, directed by Alan Parker, animated scenes by Gerald Scarfe) of airplanes morphing into crosses, which I highly recommended (found at 2:10 here: -- the full chilling clip of aerial bombardments, as well as the moment itself of planes-to-crosses. Amazing to think this is over 30 years old now.


Bonds purchased then matured 40 years later worth about 5 times their cost.

Interest rates were pretty low until the late 60s.

An aerial armada in miniature

Life magazine - Sept 28, 2042
"Symbolically pointing toward Axis capitals, 4,500 models of Army and Navy planes hang from the ceiling of Chicago's Union Station"

This previous Shorpy photo reveals them better.

Union Station?

Can anyone tell me why so many transportation hubs for rail are called "union" stations? Was Woody Guthrie involved? Why union? Why rail? Not bus or ship.

[The name "Union Station" was generally applied to those used by multiple railway companies. -tterrace]

Increase bomber's altitude

Thanks to Michael R for explaining that this section of the building is no longer there. I've been through Chicago's Union Station fairly often and just couldn't recognize the room, even considering years of change. Wonderful photos not only for the moment in time, but one can see where Mr. Delano stood to take his photos. Near center (U.S. flag) on this end, and to one side on the other end of the room (evidenced by the Philippine flag and edge of news stand). Possibly the model bomber hanging from the ceiling blocked a central shot. It's fun to put yourself in the shoes of the photographer.

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