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The Train Shed: 1911

Chicago circa 1911. "Train sheds, Chicago & North Western Railway station." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

Chicago circa 1911. "Train sheds, Chicago & North Western Railway station." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Another image stitching

I resized the smaller image so that objects in the overlap were roughly the same size, then stitched the two in PTGui Pro 9.1.2.
It did a little better in the area near the ceiling, although the lens parameters created some pincushion distortion near the center of each image. A little bit of Spherize distort in Photoshop cleared most of that up.
Really enjoy these panoramas from back in the day. I stitch 360x180 images in the modern day.

It was a wonderful time to ride the train

I used to use this terminal every day as a young adult since I rode the train into the C&NW terminal Monday through Friday. It does exist on film since they used it for the last minutes of the movie "Silver Streak." That is that train yard they are "rushing into". I think they used parts of it for the last scenes, too.

Anyway, best times I ever had going to work was when I rode that train. Great pictures.

Inside, Outside

Twins reunited, and a challenge!

I took the liberty of joining the two views we have of this exquisite train shed. Alas, the geometry suffers in my feeble attempt. However, a great deal of information about the soul of the space is nicely recovered, if I do say so myself.

I know there are better panorama stitchers than I on this forum, and I challenge you to attempt a stitch worthy of a full sized post!

Warning...this is a very tough stitch! The scales of the 2 photographs are different, and there is precious little overlap from which to establish the lens parameters. I suspect the original lens was 210mm on an 8x10 camera. The above is Photomerge's best shot, which required resizing the right side to 3080 pixels high. It simply defaults on correcting the geometry at the top, but in so doing does retain more details there than a normally stitched panorama.

Here's the righthand photo, which is a little smaller than the left, above.

All Gone

Nothing in this image exists today. In the early 1980s, the North Western Station head house was demolished, to be replaced with Citicorp Center. In the mid 1980s, the train shed and the trusses supporting the tracks were removed, replaced with completely new structures. Only the outer walls were repaired. Metra wanted to replace them to look like Citicorp Center but balked at the extra expense. Obviously the current train shed looks nothing like the one from the 1911 station. Those concrete lined openings in the roof above the tracks to allow smoke from steam locomotives to exhaust was a unique feature of this shed, but for the last couple of decades of its life, the concrete was badly cracked and deteriorated and chunks fell off regularly.

Great details

These old photos amaze me with details you can see.
Nice shine on that conductors shoes!

Yes it is Gone

The train shed has been completely rebuilt, as have the platforms and tracks. The actual "building" of the train shed remains, like the exterior walls and the overall structure below, but all the concrete and steel has been replaced at this level. What's there now is a much more angular canopy structure, without the curving beams. Unfortunately, because the Metra commuter trains that operate into this station back in, there's no need for the smoke shafts to extend very close to the head house, so it's quite a bit darker now.

Not Gone Now

Gone Now's information is erroneous. That train shed has not been demolished. I exited a Union Pacific train into this exact shed this morning, as did 10's of thousands of others.

Job Security

Party scene from the 1911 version of The Graduate: "I want to say one word to you Ben -- rivets!"

What are these?

I see more down the track so I assume they are above the other tracks as well.

[It's electrical power for the train cars after they've been disconnected from the locomotive. See this thread. - Dave]

Gone now

Other than the equipment, the CNW shed looked pretty much the same through the late 1970s when I first began commuting to downtown Chicago. It has since been demolished and replaced, just like the old CNW terminal. The new shed now deposits you into the Citibank Center building. Thank goodness Union Station is still in use! I love the look and feel of an old-timey big city train depot.

North-Western Terminal

The tracks and sheds may still be there, but the beautiful waiting room ("Head House" building) was demolished in the late 1970s/early 80s to make way for something new. It had a beautiful green/yellow marble interior. There was a valiant effort to preserve it, a la Grand Central, but alas, to no avail.


Wow. If I were to see this scene in a movie, I would be complaining that it looked like the typical backlot street scene - pretty, but too clean to be believable, not 'lived-in' enough. And in Chicago, no less!

Still around

Union Pacific trains now depart from here to Chicago's west, northwest and northern suburbs. Minus the trains, it looks pretty much the same, right down to the trainmen's uniforms.


The Silver Streak on Track 2 in 5 minutes. RUN!

No Smoking!

Centered above each track is an opening in the shed roof running the lenghth of the building. From here, exhaust smoke from the locomotive passes directly outdoors, making the platform area livable. Idea applies to today's diesels too.

Where was this?

I would love to know where in Chicago this was and what became of it. Do tell, Shorpy Nation.

[The former North Western Terminal, renamed Ogilvie Transportation Center, is at 500 West Madison Street. - Dave]

Next stop, Eternity

Now departing on Track 1, The Train to Forever!

Somebody cue the Twilight Zone music, thanks. Just follow the light at the end of the tunnel.

What a gorgeous image!

Train Now Leaving

Train now leaving on Track 5 for Anaheim ... Azusa ... and CUC-amonga!


Stunningly gorgeous photograph. That is all.

So nice and clean

The station is amazingly clean in appearance, but it looks like they have some peeling paint problems or corroding iron.

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