Book Review: Chicago Union Station (Railroads Past and Present)

If you’ve ever wondered about the architecture style of Union Station this book is for you. I linked to the Kindle version, but I checked out the hardcover from the library and the pictures are beautiful. It’s probably a book you’ll want to flip through unless you’ve got a Kindle Fire.

The author lays out the entire history of all the buildings that have served as Union Station, with pictures, and what must have been an exhaustive amount of research. He begins with William Butler Ogden standing in a swamp wondering if he should have even bought the land and ends with Amtrak’s proposed improvements including the TIF funds and loans of 2017 which supposedly would fund the newest remodel.

Anyway, I never understood “air rights” prior to reading this book. In a ground lease, you rent the property and build on it. With air rights the property contains both railroad use and the rights to build above it. That’s how you get in a situation like the current proposed transportation center near Soldier Field. Even back in 1927 the air rights over Union Station were in question.

If you love reading about Chicago or railroads or both this is worth checking out.

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