Chicago – December 2018 – Elevated Architecture: Downtown ‘El’ Train

Our final tour of this visit was one I was looking forward to – a tour of architecture of and from the El train. The tour would take us into a number of El stations, as well as checking out some of Chicago’s finest architecture from a view most don’t see – 20 feet up from the El platforms.

We made our way to our first station in the pouring rain. The group of 9 people were more than happy when we arrived at the Washington and Wabash Station. Rebuilt and opened just a year ago, this station is sometimes referred to as the Millennium Station as it is located just a block from the park (but to any Chicagoan it will always be Washington/Wabash).

The canopy is made of steel and glass, with waves that are to evoke the feeling of nearby Lake Michigan.





As you enter the station you are greeting by a significant amount of artwork.





A major portion of the tour was focused on the nearby buildings. We had seen the Sullivan Center previously, but on this tour we had the mix of the canopy of the station with the classic lines of the building.





This row of 5 floor buildings are survivors from the 1800s, and are classic buildings. All they need is someone to come along with $40-50 million to purchase and rehab them (perhaps into boutique hotels!)





We made our way clockwise around the loop to the stations at State and Van Buren, aka the Harold Washington Library Station.

While the station is a fairly typical El station, it has great views of the Fisher Building and the Monodnock Building.

The Fisher Building is an 1896 Daniel Burnham masterpiece. As with many buildings it was built in two phases. Note the bay windows on the portion closest to the camera, then a flat face just beyond that.





The building’s terracotta has numerous sculptures featuring fish and crabs, as well as mythical creatures.





The northbound view of Dearborn Street with the Monodnock on the left and the Standard Club on the right.





The rain and the Monodnock gave a basic light added character.





We had the good fortune of having the CTA Holiday Train roll through the station as we were checking out the sights. A Chicago tradition since 1992, the train is decorated by volunteers and corporate sponsor.

Prior to Christmas they will run open air flatbed cars with Santa on them (check out the blog posting on the CTA Skokie Repair shop for more details as it was being prepared when we were there in October).









Throughout our tour the CTA employees were more than helpful, holding the train briefly while we boarded en mass or letting us through the turnstiles without addition payment to check out the stations.

I am certain to them it is just a job, but how cool would it be to drive an El train around all day.





The Quincy Station was the highlight of the tour. It was opened in 1897 and is essentially the same as the day it opened (with a few additional safety features).





They even have a couple of the original (unused) fare boxes mounted on the wall





It is the only station in the system that does not have advertising, rather they have period correct ads from the early days of the station.

Interestingly the ad on the left for the South Shore could still be valid, as that commuter rail still runs down into Indiana.





The platform maintains the same look. Quite the contrast to the skyscrapers in the background (including the 1400′ high Willis/Sears Tower directly behind the platform).





Again the lighting adds to the overall look.





We continued around the loop, crossing Randolph Street past the Palace Theater.





We made a turn to the west at the northwest corner of the loop, giving a great view of the wood planking for the tracks as well as one of the control stations.





Our final stop was at the Clinton Station in the West Loop. With the recent construction of very tall buildings, and the rain, the views were diminished this day, but it still gave some great symmetry shots.





This station is next to Union Station. The building in the background was once a large warehouse but has been re purposed to condo’s.





The view back towards the loop. It is interesting how this 100+ year old transportation still works, skirting past the massive skyscrapers.





We were at a Metra Commuter Rail station and had the good fortune of seeing their Holiday Train as well! Talk about good luck (even with the pouring rain).

As always our volunteer docent was knowledgeable and personable. With so many tacky tourist hop on hop off bus type businesses in large American cities, the non profit, mostly volunteer Chicago Architecture Foundation is a real treasure. We are looking forward to returning for more tours.







Chicago – October 2018 – Open House Part 3

Day 3 of touring the city with Open House Chicago started with another building that is not officially part of the tour – Union Station.

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Union Station is in my opinion the second best train station in America (Grand Central Terminal is first, and the Washington Union Station is tied with this one).

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You make a grand entrance down the staircase.

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Past the Corinthian Columns…

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A quick look back up the stairs…

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And you are in the Main Hall.

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Unlike Grand Central, Union Station still has the cool old wooden benches.

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On this early Sunday morning there were about 20 people in the Great Hall, and 15 of us were taking photos.

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The 100-400mm provides close up of the details on the ceilings.

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And the tops of the columns.

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Even the Amtrak ticket office has a good look to it.

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More classic touches.

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While the Amtrak ticket office matched the building this ugly kiosk does not.

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The Amtrak business class lounge is new but matches the look and feel of the rest of the station.

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Across (underneath) Canal Street is another newer section of the station.

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Leaving Union Station we headed down West Jackson Street toward our first official Open House Chicago stop of the day.

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But not before passing this great new addition to downtown Chicago, with a massive map of the Chicago River up the entire side of the building.

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200 West Jackson Street – The Open House Chicago spot was a 28th floor tenant lounge in a recently remodeled building.

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Even though we were on the 28th floor, the Willis/Sears Tower towered over us.

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A collection of south loop buildings.

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Additional south loop buildings.

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Just down the street is the Chicago Board of Trade – one of the classics.

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This is Art Deco at it’s finest.

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We have been here before, but our New York friend had not – what better way to show him what Chicago has than to come into this lobby!

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While minimalist, the elevators are classic Art Deco as well.

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As cool as the lobby is – the basement holds another treat, this massive vault door and safe deposit box room.

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For the really important stuff – a vault inside a vault.

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The security guard/stand up comedian entertained the crowd with his description of the room, and it’s history. He said all he really wanted to be was Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman – and I think he could do it. What a hoot, and informative.

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This box is reputed to have belonged to Al Capone.

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to be continued…..

 

 

Pittsburgh – October 2018 – Doors Open Part 3

Doors Open continues…

 

Smithfield Church – The church was completed in 1927, at the corner of Smithfield Street and Strawberry Way.

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The church was built by the German Evangelical Protestant Church, and has German sayings throughout.

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As with the other downtown churches, the Smithfield Church has an impressive organ.

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As well as the stained glass.

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The HYP Club – The Harvard, Yale, Princeton Club of Pittsburgh has a small 2 floor building surrounded by skyscrapers.

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The Alcoa Building towers over it’s neighbor.

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The interior itself was nice, but not noteworthy. We did have an enjoyable conversation with one of the hostesses, learning much about the club – which interesting is no longer restricted to just alumni of Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

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Pittsburgh Engineers Building – Daniel Burnham’s first Pittsburgh building was the 1899 Union Trust Company. Built in 1899 for Andrew Mellon and Henry Clay Frick, it was noteworthy for it’s safe.

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The bank left long ago, but the safe is still there.

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The Engineering Society of Pittsburgh has taken over the building, and has a club/restaurant that celebrates the engineering of Pittsburgh, with an emphasis on the bridges.

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William Penn Hotel – The William Penn Hotel, a classic old school hotel, was opened in 1916. Over the years it has hosted many famous people, including numerous presidents.

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Situated along Grant Street, it has long been the center of society in Pittsburgh.

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The main lobby.

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The lower level has the famous Speakeasy Bar, so named because of it’s reputation during prohibition.

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The hotel has a collection of artifacts including Lawernce Welk’s first bubble machine (for those too young google or youtube Lawrence Welk)

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The Pennsylvanian –  While it was officially called Union Station, the major train station at the corner of Liberty and Grant was always more commonly known as Penn Station, as the only railroad it served was the Pennsylvania Railroad

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Designed by Daniel Burnham it went into service in 1901.

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As you approach the station you are greeted by a great rotunda that was once used by carriages arriving and departing.

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The ceiling of the rotunda is one of the master pieces of the city, and of Daniel Burnham’s career.

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The rotunda is worth a number of looks…

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Immediately inside is a smaller room that greeted passengers.

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The Main Hall, with it’s high ceilings and skylights, continue to impress people today. After the buildings restoration in the 1980s to apartments, this hall has been used for functions like weddings and meetings.

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Original benches from the station era are still used in this hall.

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Detailed carvings are throughout.

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The skylights open up the lower level to natural lighting, despite the fact that the entire building rises another 10 floors around and above them.

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Another classic public clock.

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On this day they were also offering tours of one of the apartments.

From the 4th floor hallway you had a better look above the skylights at the higher floors of the building

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As with most of the other historic buildings in town, the Pennsylvanian has a great mailbox.

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Doors Open Pittsburgh is continued in part 4…

 

 

 

 

New York City – September 2018 – Grand Central Details

America’s greatest train station is Grand Central Terminal. While hundreds of thousands of people commute through the terminal every day, and nearly every tourist who comes to New York stops by, I had the opportunity (and the zoom) to check out close ups of some of the details.

The feature photo is a closeup of the clock and sculptures that are at the top of Grand Central facing south towards Park Avenue.

Let’s head inside.

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The iconic information kiosk clock backed by one of the schedule boards. The information kiosk is reached via an internal spiral staircase from the lower level of the terminal.

The clock was made by the Seth Thomas Clock Company. The clock has made appearances in numerous movies including North by Northwest, The Fisher King, the Godfather and others.

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The Beaux Arts Chandeliers frame the Main Concourse, with five on both the north and south side.

The bulbs have a basic look to them, but in reality they were replaced in 2009 with far more efficient fluorescent ones.

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Looking up from one of the lower level walkways you see a chandelier, skylights in the ceiling and the famed ceiling.

There are numerous photos on display in the terminal showing sunlight beaming through the side windows – something that is no longer possible because of the tall buildings surrounding GCT.

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Also in the lower level are some classic wooden benches. Before a restoration in the 1970s these benches were used for waiting passengers in the Main Concourse.

Since then, their primary use has been in the food court in the lower level, but others are in the corners of the lower level.

In addition the Springfield, Massachusetts train station recently installed some restored GCT wooden benches that were unused. They are currently on ‘permanent loan’ to Springfield, who restored them as part of the deal.

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While technically not in Grand Central Terminal, the Graybar Building has been closely associated with GCT since it’s construction in 1927.

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The building has the classic art deco mailboxes in the granite wall, as you walk through the GCT passage to Lexington Avenue (more on the Graybar Building later).

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Back in the Main Concourse one of the chandeliers accents the departure boards perfectly.

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The famous sky ceiling – 125 feet across and hung from steel trusses, the ceiling has 2,500 gold stars.

One of the earliest passengers in 1913 quickly figured out that the sky is ‘backwards’, on the ceiling east is on the west side of the concourse, and vice versa.

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Until the 1990s the grime was so bad the ceiling was barely noticeable. As a reminder they have left a black patch to show how dirty it was.

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A random look up shows amazing detail.

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GCT ‘hidden’ high up on one of the side walls.

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A ticket sellers window.

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Down in the lower level even the elevator lobbies have amazing detail.

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As do the track entrances.

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Heading out onto Lexington Avenue we see the main entrance to the Graybar Building. Note the giant reliefs on each side.

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Eagles are a recurring them in GCT, and the entire area.

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More detail on the exterior of the Graybar Building.

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The Graybar Rats – The sculpted rats are depicted as though they are climbing ropes that anchor a ship. In reality it is what is holding up the canopy over the entrance.

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Other canopy supports have more traditional artwork on them.

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Easily one of the most overlooked vintage New York Skyscrapers, the Graybar is worth spending some time looking up at.

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Another building that is closely associated with GCT is the Helmsley Building.

While not quite as famous as GCT’s clock facing south, the Helmsley clock greets the Park Avenue traffic coming from the north.

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This building too has numerous gargoyles and other sculptures throughout.

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More Helmsley Building detail.

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The former Postum Building at 250 Park Avenue is a prewar survivor where all the other buildings of it’s time (circa 1924) have long since been torn down and replaced with taller, newer giant glass boxes.

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Finally one last look at another of the famed GCT Eagles.

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Across America – September – The Depot Tour Continues

The ongoing Train Depot/Station post continues to grow….

 

Manhattan – PATH station in the World Trade Center Oculus.

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The train to Hoboken

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Hoboken Terminal

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Jersey City – New Jersey Transit Light Rail – Newport Station

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Urbana, Ohio

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Columbus – near German Village – The High Street Streetcar Line Car House. Very nicely restored as a banquet facility.

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On this Sunday morning they were setting up for something – so the door was open 🙂

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Berea, Ohio Depot – Now a restaurant and tavern.

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The Berea Depot sits along two major rail lines, and the parking lot had a number of die hard Railfans hanging out to watch the freight trains go blowing by.  Apparently this spot in the best spot east of Chicago for those type of activities.

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While in nearby Olmstead Falls is a small depot that was also once located next door in Berea.

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It is part of a railroad themed shopping and entertainment complex.

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Elyria, Ohio is a medium sized city, so they had a larger station. It too has recently been restored.

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The Elyria station features some nice architectural touches.

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Amherst, Ohio Depot.

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As with many others it too is a community center.

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Oberlin, Ohio is home to to Oberlin College – the oldest co-educational college in America, and second oldest in the world.  It continues to be one of the highest ranked liberal arts colleges in America – in this tiny little northern Ohio town!

Their train depot is located in a small park.

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It is nice to see how many towns have retained these historic buildings.

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Just down the road in Wellington is the Lorain and West Virginia Railway Museum. While situated along the tracks, this depot was moved to the site.

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The museum offers rail excursions.

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The little town of New London, Ohio has a tiny little depot that has been moved to a local park.

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Our last stop of the day was in Galion, Ohio. We came upon this great Queen Anne style station that was open for a ‘Doors Open’ event.

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The station’s interior needs some work,  but it is standing and seemingly solid.

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The stone and brick building still features much of the canopy for waiting passengers.

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This station was home to the ‘Big Four’ railroad – that connected Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus & St Louis (they must have skipped Indiana).

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Outville, Ohio

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Johnstown, Ohio.

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On our Labor Day weekend throughout the Midwest we visit a few stations that were along the way.

Battle Creek, Michigan

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Three Oaks, Michigan – It is now an upscale clothing store in a tiny little tourist town.

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Ada, Ohio

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Forest, Ohio

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Chicago – Union Station (Interiors)

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Buffalo Central Terminal – There is a dedicated posting for this amazing station

https://rdzphotographyblog.com/2017/05/17/buffalo-may-2017-central-terminal/

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Jersey City – This station is at the dock for the ferries to the Statue of Liberty. Currently unused, it appears to be being restored as part of Liberty State Park

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Portland, Oregon

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St Louis – Union Station. Now a hotel and a shopping mall

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Philadelphia – 30th Street Station

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Boston – South Station

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Denver – Union Station. I understand it has been restored since this photo was taken.

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New York – Grand Central Terminal. I have amazingly few photos of this great terminal despite having been in and out of there numerous times.

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Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania Station. Now luxury apartments.

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The Amtrak station is connected, but in an ugly little building near the lower level

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Greensburg, Pennsylvania

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Latrobe, Pennsylvania

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Dennison, Ohio – This nice little station has been restored into a museum.

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Scranton, Pennsylvania – Steamtown National Historic Park has a great roundhouse that serves as the museum.

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Also in Scranton is an old station.

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Canon City, Colorado – The spectacular Royal Gorge Scenic Railroad station.

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Greeley, Colorado – Centennial Village Union Pacific Depot

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Bowling Green, Ohio Depot – now located at Dayton’s Carillon Park

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Glendale, Ohio – Now serves at the Visitor Center

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Dearborn, Michigan – Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum.

A roundhouse

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Thurmond, West Virginia – Located in the New River Gorge National Park.

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Ironwood, Michigan

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Superior, Wisconsin

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Fargo, North Dakota

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Nelsonville, Ohio – Home of the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad

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Elmore, Ohio – Another visitor center

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Bellville Depot – It has been restored and is now a rest stop along a ‘rails to trails’ path.

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A stylish clock is on the other side of the path, facing a great looking bridge.

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The overall scene of the Bellville depot.

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The town of Mt Vernon has two passenger depots and a former freight building. The first building was a Baltimore & Ohio depot.

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It actually sits along active tracks.

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Used by the local community development organization, it is beautifully restored inside and out.

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The second station, just a few blocks away is restored as well.

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A passenger station for the Pennsylvania Railroad, it closely resembles the B &O station. If you have ever wondered why some towns have ‘Union Stations’ it is because of this, why have 2 stations – have a ‘union’ of railroads and build one.

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The tracks here have been converted to a rails to trails as well.

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The interior is fantastic.

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Even the heating radiators are stylish.

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We arrived at Granville in the pouring down rain, so I took a couple photos out the car window. As with many of the others, it is a stop on a rails to trails.

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Leaving the rain we stopped in the tiny town of Alexandria, where the station has been moved a mile or so from it’s original location to a parking lot of a business.

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The next day we headed to western Ohio to the town of South Charleston. This depot had the best of both worlds, it was on a bike trail going one way and an active track going the other way.

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Across the tracks was a park with a couple of cabooses.

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The small city of London, Ohio was our next stop.

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The station here was along unused tracks, and appears to be owned by a club. The building appears to have been restored, but the area around the building is a bit shabby.

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As with most of the medium size stations there is some character to the architecture.

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I had read that a depot from the southern Ohio town of Bainbridge had been moved to a place called Greene’s Museum Village, but when we found it, the place looked overgrown and someplace I didn’t want to go knock on a door – so a photo from across the corn fields sufficed.

2018 08 26 23 Orient OH Depot.jpg

 

 

Finally back in Columbus we unexpectedly passed by some remnants of the streetcar years. This unused building is just north of downtown and was the business offices for the streetcar company.

A streetcar barn had been located across the street but has been torn down years ago.

I can’t believe someone hasn’t restored this great building.

2018 08 26 74 Columbus Streetcar Houses.jpg

 

 

On the east side of Columbus, near Franklin Park is the Kelton Avenue streetcar barn. Actually this is the repair shop, the storage barns have been torn down here as well.

I have added the rest of the streetcar remnants to my list of places to go see, so stay tuned for more in the future.

2018 08 26 77 Columbus Streetcar Houses.jpg

 

 

The Brice Station served a small town just east of Columbus, now it is part of an events center on the northwest side of town.

2018 08 19 112 Columbus Brice Depot.jpg

 

 

We were lucky enough to meet a Reverend who was getting ready for his Sunday morning services. He was more than happy to let us look around the nicely restored station.

2018 08 19 118 Columbus Brice Depot.jpg

 

 

In the back they have a dining car, that still functions as a dining car – it just doesn’t move.

2018 08 19 123 Columbus Brice Depot.jpg

 

 

The counter is a work of art.

2018 08 19 124 Columbus Brice Depot.jpg

 

 

Our next stop is owned by the same people, only located across town. It is called the Golf Depot, and serves as the restaurant and clubhouse for the golf course.

2018 08 19 139 Gahanna Prospect Depot.jpg

 

 

I was immediately impressed with the views. Central Ohio is very flat and I was surprised that we were on a small rise, with a skyline view and a view of the nearby airport.

Where did this hill come from you ask? It was a huge landfill/garbage dump that they have re-purposed into this golf course. As with the last depot, the train never stopped here, since there were never any tracks anywhere close to here.

2018 08 19 136 Gahanna Prospect Depot.jpg

 

 

They do celebrate their rail history with a mural.

2018 08 19 142 Gahanna Prospect Depot.jpg

 

 

The depot was moved in tact and placed on the course.

2018 08 19 143 Gahanna Prospect Depot.jpg

 

 

The restaurant has all of the original wood.

2018 08 19 146 Gahanna Prospect Depot.jpg

 

 

We were having such good luck finding great little depots we headed 30 miles away to the small town of Sunbury, Ohio. I had read they too had a station, and a model train exhibit inside. Unfortunately the station was covered in some hideous faux shake shingles.

2018 08 19 160 Sunbury OH Depot.jpg

 

 

It was located where the tracks were, but are now gone. In it’s place is a very nice rails to trails path. I was disappointed in the depot, but the hike made up for it.

2018 08 19 162 Sunbury OH Depot.jpg

 

 

We continued back toward the city by stopping in the small city of Delaware, Ohio where the list said there were 2 stations very close to each other. The list was correct, there was this small wooden depot.

2018 08 19 173 Delaware OH Depots.jpg

 

 

Mostly hidden behind barbed wire fence.

2018 08 19 176 Delaware OH Depots.jpg

 

 

And a larger one across the tracks.

2018 08 19 168 Delaware OH Depots.jpg

 

 

That had warning signs of the hazardous conditions. So much for our good luck with finding cool little depots this day.

2018 08 19 167 Delaware OH Depots.jpg

 

 

This small depot is located the Mad River and Nickel Plate Railroad Museum in Bellevue, Ohio.

2018 05 19 156 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum.jpg

 

 

The small station serves as a display area for the museum.

2018 05 19 115 Bellevue OH Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum.jpg

 

 

Bucyrus, Ohio is currently restoring their fine brick station.

2018 05 19 7 Bucyrus OH.jpg

 

 

We are looking forward to a return visit when it is completed.

2018 05 19 9 Bucyrus OH.jpg

 

 

Newark’s is already restored and serves as an office for a local business.

2018 03 24 81 Newark OH Historic Jail Tour.jpg

 

 

While a nearby mural celebrates their rail history.

2018 03 24 66 Newark OH Historic Jail Tour.jpg

 

 

The small town of Canal Winchester (so named because the Ohio and Erie canal went through the town before the railroads) has two stations – this one if for the Interurbans (regional trains).

2017 05 07 176 Canal Winchester OH.jpg

 

 

It serves as a community center.

2017 05 07 177 Canal Winchester OH.jpg

 

 

On the other side of town is a small depot for the mainline trains.

2017 05 06 42 Canal Winchester OH.jpg

 

 

A small museum resides inside.

2017 05 06 43 Canal Winchester OH.jpg

 

 

With a couple of restored cars outside.

2017 05 06 49 Canal Winchester OH.jpg

 

 

The Marion station is one of the nicer ones. The exterior is in great shape, and the interior is not bad. A local rail fan club maintains the building.

2017 03 18 313 Marion OH Railroad Club Depot.jpg

 

 

Marion is located near multiple main freight lines and attract numerous rail fans.

2015 04 18 136 Marion OH Union Station.jpg

 

The building has a classic look.

2015 04 18 137 Marion OH Union Station.jpg

 

 

The nearby control tower oversees the activities.

2017 03 18 310 Marion OH Railroad Club Depot.jpg

 

 

In a Lima part there is a small depot called Lincoln Park. This small depot was located in a nearby town and moved to the park as part of the rail display.

2017 03 18 274 Lima OH Lincoln Park.jpg

 

 

It currently serves as offices for the park.

2017 03 18 276 Lima OH Lincoln Park.jpg

 

 

The Franklin County Fairgrounds is the home of the Hilliard Depot.

2016 07 23 130 Franklin County Fair.jpg

 

 

The National Road is more famous for automobile traffic, but this little depot served interurbans that eventually lost out to the cars.

2015 05 24 National Road in Ohio 138.jpg

 

 

Another small depot in the town of Pickerington.

2017 05 07 127 Fairfield County Covered Bridge Tour 2

 

 

Our last couple are more impressive stations. The Columbus and Toledo station on the near west side of Columbus is a great building with a pagoda look.

2015 05 25 National Road in Ohio 156.jpg

 

 

With the main Columbus station gone, it is fantastic that this one survived.

2015 05 25 National Road in Ohio 157.jpg

 

 

It currently serves as a union hall, but they rent it out for weddings and other events.

2015 12 09 169 Former Toledo & Central Ohio Station.jpg

 

 

Finally – Cincinnati Union Terminal.

2015 01 10  Cincinnati 121.jpg

 

 

On of the best domes in the world, it is mostly used for a number of museums that make their home there.

2015 11 14 178 Cincinnati Museum Center.jpg

 

 

But Amtrak does use a portion of the building.

2015 11 14 205 Cincinnati Museum Center.jpg

 

 

Easily one of the best train stations in America, the woodwork is stunning.

2015 11 14 200 Cincinnati Museum Center.jpg

 

 

Art deco at it’s finest. My plan is to update this posting as we visit more depots and stations around Ohio.

2015 11 14 203 Cincinnati Museum Center.jpg