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Way Station: 1943

Way Station: 1943

January 1943. "Chicago, Illinois. Waiting for trains in the concourse of the Union Station." Photo by Jack Delano, Office of War Information. View full size.


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No Comparison

To: tomincantonga. The concourse was the equivalent to the train shed of other stations. Penn Station's concourse had a similar beams, girders and rivets appearance. If you want to see grandeur comparable to the New York stations, find photos of Union Station Headhouse's Great Hall--which fortunately still exists. The Concourse, which is not shown to best advantage in this shot, was actually pretty grand itself. It was in a separate building from the Headhouse. The Headhouse contained the vast Great Hall, ticket offices, restaurants, barber shops, bars, lounges, jail, etc. The Concourse and Headhouse were connected via a passageway under Canal Street.

Composition, Noir

. . . cries out for half-silly scenarios, and, bless 'em, the Shorpites have provided them. Even so, it's a strikingly beautiful compo.

The Architect of this Station

... must have played with Erector sets when he was a kid.

No comparison

to either of the NYC stations. This looks like something thrown together over a feverish weekend, just to keep the passengers free from rain. The two NYC stations look like something grand, this shabby and morose.
Going back 50+ years, I remember taking the train to Milwaukee, and likely walked somewhere near. The floor was paved with 'get-er-done-quick' asphalt.

The Two Feds

Jumped right out at me in the unenlarged photo, they are too conspicuously casual. Tall man is packing a shoulder holster, evidenced by the bulge in his overcoat. His target has not yet arrived. Marcy, in her pretty white boots, is the decoy. Alfred Hitchcock, to the right of the poster, is awaiting his cameo.

Neon Sign

The neon sign pointing to the "Street Cars" is a mate to one we have that says "To Trains" with a similar arrow. Ours also came out of Union Station and hangs in our hallway pointing the way to the nearby Metra station.

Long gone

I used Chicago Union Station for many years, 1965 - 1997, commuting to and from my work. I vaguely remember the old, spacious concourse. Most of my memories are of the 'new' concourse, as Milamber2431 says, under a skyscraper. The term I have heard for the new concourse was "Chicago Union Basement" - which unfortunately fits. The ceiling is very low, and the space is broken up.

Much Ado About Nothing but fun

Actually davidk, the newspaper reader and the man leaning on the radiator are both FBI. They are watching the group in the middle, who are waiting for their contact with the stolen diamonds to smuggle out of the country. On the right is Mugs Malone, former "almost" heavyweight champ and now muscle for the mob. Center is Donna Reed in her cute little boots and brains of the outfit. Behind her is Humphrey Bogart, an insurance investigator pretending to be a tough gang member. If you look quickly between the paper reader and the man with the satchel (containing the diamonds), a disguised Charley Chan is following the real Nazi spy.

Parmelee Transfer Worked Like Magic

You may have only had an hour for a train connection in Chicago between different station, but Parmelee Transfer would get you and your luggage to your connection on time.

Tracks are still there, concourse is gone

This photo shows the south side of the concourse. The doors on the left lead to the south-bound train platforms (note signs for track numbers 8 and 12).

If you walked through those doors in January 1943 you would be here.

The east side of the concourse was seen here.

The west side of the concourse was seen here.

Union Station actually has more traffic today than in the 40s, though it's mostly commuters. Trains board at the same spot pictured above, but the expansive concourse is gone. It's all underneath a 1970s skyscraper.

Which one is it? Pt 2

You are close davidk but off the mark a little:
The guy leaning against the radiator is a jazz musician, he plays the sax. You are right about the guy with the open paper buts he's an FBI agent keeping tabs on the older gentleman leaning against the pole with the poster. He's Paddy O'Brian of the Irish Mafia and he runs a speak easy on Dearborn Ave. The girl in the center looking at the camera is Roxy (aka Sally from Kansas) the next big star to hit town.

PS My first ever post..I love Shorpy

If I was there then...

I'd wonder, "How would people like to buy suitcases with wheels on them?"

Defintely a time gone by

I can almost smell the cigar smoke.

Which one is it?

The Nazi spy is definitely the man on the left in the fedora and overcoat, leaning on the radiator, affecting the nonchalant pose. The person on his tail is the similarly dressed man, central, in the background, with the open newspaper.

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