WBEZ | Union Station http://www.wbez.org/tags/union-station Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Art pulls into Chicago’s Union Station http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-09/art-pulls-chicago%E2%80%99s-union-station-108591 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3544937155_a2411e7cd4_z.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="The Great Hall at Chicago’s Union Station. Can art raise the profile of this underused space? (Flickr/J. Stehen Conn)" />I&rsquo;m constantly flummoxed by my trips through Chicago&rsquo;s Union Station, the gorgeous Beaux Arts gem designed by Daniel Burnham.</p><p>Instead of being able to glory in (or even easily find) the Great Hall, like most travelers I more often spend most of my time navigating the cramped and low-ceilinged labyrinth below.</p><p>To be relegated to the dismal basement of one of Chicago&rsquo;s soaringly beautiful spaces seems like a punishment for a crime I cannot fathom, much less have possibly committed. What have any of us done to deserve this?</p><p>There is something of an effort to re-envision things, in the form of a <a href="http://www.unionstationmp.com/" target="_blank">master plan</a> for the station undertaken by the Chicago Department of Transportation, Amtrak, Metra and others.</p><p>Since the goal of the plan is to increase the station&rsquo;s capacity (according to CDOT, Union Station sees as much traffic as some of the busiest airports in America), it won&rsquo;t necessarily help travelers get more quality time or things to do in the Great Hall.</p><p>But as part of the process, there has been an interesting, summer-long experiment to make Union Station more of a place to hang out.</p><p>Initiated by the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), the <a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/work/project/12/subpage/1" target="_blank">Activate Union Station</a> placemaking contest resulted in two installations - a nylon sculpture called &ldquo;Blah Blah Blob!&rdquo; on the Plaza and &ldquo;trainYARD&rdquo; an interactive park-like space in the midst of the Great Hall. Both were an attempt to enliven generally glum places through a mix of lectures, fitness classes and other activities.</p><p>Mandy Burrell Booth of the MPC says the project drew lots of attention to the station. And though it wrapped up over the Labor Day weekend, she hopes its long-term impact will be in getting planners to think of Union Station as an important destination and economic catalyst for surrounding neighborhoods, and not just a space to pass through.</p><p>Though the project is a great effort to bring creative ideas to the space, I&rsquo;d honestly prefer art or music over a corn-hole toss in the Great Hall. And Friday I&rsquo;ll get my wish, when an art event organizers have dubbed a &ldquo;nomadic happening&rdquo; pulls into Union Station.</p><p><em><a href="http://stationtostation.com/">Station to Station</a></em> is a train based, traveling art, music, food and film event that kicks off Friday in New York. Over the course of three weeks, it will pass through nine other train stations scattered across the country.</p><p>The actual art program also reflects the transient feel of train travel. Some artists will hop on for one or a couple of stops while others will stay on board the entire journey. There&rsquo;ll be stops in Pittsburgh, Sante Fe, Barstow and Los Angeles before the journey ends in Oakland, California. And on September 10, the train arrives in Chicago.</p><p>Starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall, there&rsquo;ll be music by a mix of local and out-of-town artists, including Thurston Moore, Theaster Gates, White Mystery, and others yet to be named. The variety and caliber of artists is equally impressive: Photographer Catherine Opie, moving image artists Ryan Trecartin, Yayoi Kusama and Dara Birnbaum, print makers Raymond Pettibon and Nam June Paik, and many more. Many of them will work across more than one medium. Kenneth Anger, best known for experimental films, is also one of the artists making the mysterious (and somewhat goofy sounding) &ldquo;nomadic sculptures.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to know what all of this adds up to: An exciting evening of improvisation and cutting edge work by top shelf and emerging artists? Or just a hot art mess? One good sign: The concept is the work of <a href="http://www.303gallery.com/artists/doug_aitken/index.php" target="_blank">Doug Aitken</a>, who seems to have a gift for enlivening all sorts of public spaces with ambitious and often mesmerizing art projects.</p><p>The event (which is underwritten by Levi&rsquo;s) is also a fundraiser for nine &ldquo;partner museums&rdquo; including The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The goal is to &ldquo;support non-traditional programming&rdquo; in these places, but it might also nudge the MCA and others to bring their creative clout to bear on the station. If so, <em>Station to Station</em> won&rsquo;t just be a more complicated take on the now annoyingly familiar (and often aesthetically underachieving) pop-up art show. It could provide another vehicle for lifting the public profile &mdash; and even public spirit &mdash; of Union Station. &nbsp;</p><p>What do you think? Should we have more programming, art or otherwise, in the Great Hall? What would you like to see happening there?</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter and co-host of <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels,</a> a podcast about the future of television. Follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy">Twitter</a>,<a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn"> Facebook</a> and&nbsp;<a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport">Instagram</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 03 Sep 2013 09:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-09/art-pulls-chicago%E2%80%99s-union-station-108591 Chicago’s Union Station will get indoor park and giant blob http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago%E2%80%99s-union-station-will-get-indoor-park-and-giant-blob-108435 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Union Station 130815 AY.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Commuters going to Chicago&rsquo;s Union Station on August 24 will be greeted by <a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/uploads/cms/documents/trainyard_visualplan.pdf">an indoor park</a> and <a href="https://www.metroplanning.org/uploads/cms/documents/blahblahblob_visualplan.pdf">a giant blob</a>.</p><p>The Great Hall will hold an indoor park with an artificial lawn. It will have seats made from recycled newspapers, picnic tables and tetherball. Graham Grilli, an architect at <a href="http://www.spacearchplan.com/">SPACE architects and planners</a>, the team behind the park, says city commuters travel to the suburbs to enjoy outdoor space and he wanted this park to bring the outdoors to them.</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-5c71b554-8441-6b59-47f1-32c2df7bba5d">&ldquo;Union Station is one of those in-between places where you&rsquo;re in a rush the whole day, and you end up in Union Station with nothing to do for a few minutes,&rdquo; Grilli said. &ldquo;People are often using Union Station to go out to the suburbs, where there&rsquo;s a lot more open space, but the reality is they spend almost all their time commuting in a train or working in an office and they almost never get to enjoy it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Outside Union Station, the plaza will have something that looks like a giant bouncy castle. Architect Katherine Darnstadt worked on the team behind the Blah Blah Blob!, a creation of <a href="http://latentdesign.net/">Latent Design</a> and the <a href="http://www.cudc.kent.edu/">Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;Lots of things will be happening inside the blob,&quot; Darnstadt said. &quot;The blob will be surrounding tables and chairs that are on the plaza so people could walk inside, have a cup of coffee, eat their lunch inside of it.&rdquo;</p><p>The blob will be lined with artificial grass and will house fitness classes. Darnstadt says several organizations in Chicago have contacted her about wanting to host the blob at future events, so residents may still see the blob around the city after it leaves Union Station.The Metropolitan Planning Council, a local nonprofit development group, organized Active Union Station, a competition for designs that would help make it a gathering place instead of just a train station. The council picked these two designs as<a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/news-events/media-release/6760"> the winners</a>, and each team will receive $5,000.</p><p>The organizers were inspired by the <a href="http://www.unionstationdc.com/">Union Station in Washington, DC</a>, which is a tourist destination in itself; and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, which has an urban space called <a href="http://universitycity.org/the-porch">the Porch</a> for art, group exercise and food trucks, says Marisa Novara, a program director at the Metropolitan Planning Council.&ldquo;There are a lot of people passing through, what we&rsquo;d like to do is give them more of a reason to stay,&rdquo; Novara said.</p><p>Novara also points out the contest &nbsp;to expand Union Station started from <a href="http://www.unionstationmp.com/">an ongoing collaboration</a> between the Metropolitan Planning Council, Amtrak, Metra, the Chicago Department of Transportation and other groups.Both installations will arrive next Saturday and stay till September 2.</p><p><em>Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/Alan_Yu039">@Alan_Yu039</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 15 Aug 2013 18:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago%E2%80%99s-union-station-will-get-indoor-park-and-giant-blob-108435 Quite a trip: Fabulous hidden spaces of Union Station revealed http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-07/quite-trip-fabulous-hidden-spaces-union-station-revealed-108035 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/9249509770_2daacf6c91_z.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">For a while now, the Metropolitan Planning Council has devoted its efforts to improving Union Station &mdash; and for good reason: The 85-year-old complex is the last of the city&#39;s grand old rail stations and the third-busiest passenger station in the country.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And what a fine building it is, with its elegant limestone exterior and that romantic passenger hall. And what you can&#39;t see is pretty good too, as it turns out. The MPC earlier this year toured the building and photographed what&#39;s behind the train station&#39;s &quot;official access only&quot; doors and locked-out upper floors. The organization shared pictures of the tour&nbsp;<a href="http://www.metroplanning.org/news-events/blog-post/6737?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+mpc-blog+%28MPC+blog+posts%29">in a feature</a>&nbsp;on its website this week. The images show the old station has some of downtown&#39;s most remarkable hidden spaces.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">For instance, there is the station&#39;s former Women&#39;s Lounge&mdash; closed off from the main hall for years&mdash; in the photo above. Look at the columns, the coffered ceiling and the murals. The space is so large, the fair-sized crowd barely makes a dent in it.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Here&#39;s a vintage wash-up area in one of Union Station&#39;s closed upper floors:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/9249573884_3ef9cf2402_c.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 401px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">And the view from the roof:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/9246770669_016bf54178_h.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" title="" /></div></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Reuse of these spaces is critical to Union Station&#39;s future. As downtown development spreads westward, the station is a hub rather than facility on the edge of the Loop, which opens a ton of possibilties for those now-hidden offices, lounges and rooms. Having those spaces activated with businesses, restaurants, etc., would be good for the building and for the West Loop.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Want to see more? MPC&nbsp;<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/metroplanning/9246715189/in/set-72157634567699498">posted additional photos</a>&nbsp;on its Flickr page.&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 12 Jul 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-07/quite-trip-fabulous-hidden-spaces-union-station-revealed-108035 Chicago dips a toe into ‘bus rapid transit’ http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-dips-toe-%E2%80%98bus-rapid-transit%E2%80%99-101834 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jeffery.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 327px; width: 250px; " title="Construction crews are beginning work to speed up express service along the South Side’s Jeffery Boulevard. (Photo courtesy of CTA)" />Construction crews have begun work on what Chicago is billing as its first &ldquo;bus rapid transit&rdquo; route.</p><p>The Chicago Transit Authority project, funded almost entirely by an $11 million federal grant, will speed up buses along the South Side&rsquo;s Jeffery Boulevard.</p><p>The CTA says buses there will get through stop lights more quickly and have their own lanes during rush hours. The buses will also have fancy stations spaced a half-mile apart with no stops between.</p><p>Joe Iacobucci, the CTA&rsquo;s strategic-planning manager, said the crews began Monday. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re preparing those stations for new bus pads &mdash; they&rsquo;re about a 60-foot length of concrete &mdash; and preparing the landscape for customer signage and bus shelters,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The CTA expects the upgrades to shave travel times. In northbound morning peak hours, for example, Iacobucci said the project will cut 7 minutes, enabling buses to complete the 16-mile route in 65 minutes.</p><p>BRT delivers many benefits of rail at a fraction of the cost. The most advanced systems are running in Bogotá, the Colombian capital, and Guangzhou, the Chinese city formerly known as Canton. More modest lines are up in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and Eugene, Oregon.</p><p>Experts compare BRT systems using various criteria. The New York City-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, for example, grades systems using 30 factors.</p><p>The four factors the institute deems most important are all missing from the Jeffery Boulevard project. Those include barriers between bus and car lanes, use of the road&rsquo;s central verge for the bus lanes, off-bus fare collection and platform-level boarding.</p><p>A <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/story/city-devotes-73-million-downtown-brt-96580">BRT route downtown</a>, planned for 2014 construction, will be more robust but extend just a mile, running from Union Station to North Michigan Avenue. That project, which includes a redesign of the station, has $24.6 million in federal funding and $7.3 million in local tax-increment financing.</p><p>A third BRT route would span a 21-mile stretch of Western or Ashland avenues. The city is studying alternatives for that project using a $1.6 million federal grant.</p><p>In 2008, Mayor Richard M. Daley&rsquo;s administration announced that Chicago was diving into BRT with a $153 million federal grant, but the city missed a crucial application deadline and forfeited the money.</p><p>Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s mayoral transition plan last year promised a &ldquo;full bus rapid transit pilot&rdquo; within three years.</p></p> Mon, 20 Aug 2012 18:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-dips-toe-%E2%80%98bus-rapid-transit%E2%80%99-101834 Chicago announces master plan for Union Station http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-announces-master-plan-union-station-99513 <p><p>Chicago&#39;s main train station is being targeted with a master plan designed to increase its capacity and improve train passengers&#39; experiences.</p><p>There have been a number of grand plans for Union Station, the nation&#39;s third-busiest after New York&#39;s Grand Central and Penn Stations. Past plans included tearing down existing buildings and building a new structure in their place.</p><p>On Wednesday, City Hall released a plan with short-term projects with identified funding. They include improved station entrances; expanded Amtrak waiting rooms; and enhanced bus lanes on streets around the station.</p><p>The plan says projects that might be delivered in five to 10 years include creating wider commuter platforms.</p><p>Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein says the number of trains serving Union Station may increase 40 percent by 2040, prompting the proposed changes.</p></p> Thu, 24 May 2012 08:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-announces-master-plan-union-station-99513 $7.3 million OKed for downtown ‘bus rapid transit’ http://www.wbez.org/story/story/city-devotes-73-million-downtown-brt-96580 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-21/BRT_Flickr_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Transmilenio" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-February/2012-02-20/Transmilenio.jpg" style="margin: 9px 18px 6px 1px; float: left; width: 374px; height: 247px;" title="Bogotá, Colombia, has the world’s most advanced bus-rapid-transit system. (flickr/Oscar Amaya)" />Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s administration has decided to channel more than $7.3&nbsp;million in tax increment financing toward a &ldquo;bus rapid transit&rdquo; line downtown, according to transportation and economic-development officials.</p><p>The money will combine with an announced $24.6&nbsp;million from the Federal Transit Administration to speed up trips between Union Station, the Ogilvie Transportation Center, several Chicago Transit Authority lines, Streeterville and Navy Pier.</p><p>&ldquo;About 50&nbsp;percent of the commuters who come to work every day in Chicago&rsquo;s central business district arrive by bus or train,&rdquo; said Peter Skosey, vice president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, a nonprofit group working on the project. &ldquo;If they&rsquo;re getting off at those Metra stations in the West Loop, it&rsquo;s quite a hike over to North Michigan Avenue or even just to State Street. So this really facilitates the use of transit for downtown Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>Bus rapid transit, known as BRT, delivers many benefits of rail at a fraction of the cost. The most advanced BRT systems have sprung up in Bogotá, Colombia; Guangzhou, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Ahmedabad, India.</p><p>BRT remains largely unknown in the United States. Modest systems are running in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and Eugene, Oregon.</p><p>In 2008, Mayor Richard M. Daley&rsquo;s administration said it was moving on a BRT pilot project. But the city bungled an application for $153&nbsp;million in federal funding for it.</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s mayoral transition plan last year promised a &ldquo;full bus rapid transit pilot&rdquo; within three years. The pilot, according to the plan, will include &ldquo;dedicated bus lanes, signal preemption, prepaid boarding or on-board fare verification, multiple entry and exits points on the buses, limited stops, and street-level boarding.&rdquo;</p><p>The Chicago Department of Transportation is keeping lips tight about its design of the downtown line, known as both the &ldquo;East-West Transit Corridor&rdquo; and &ldquo;Central Loop BRT.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s not clear the design will include many of the timesavers listed in Emanuel&rsquo;s plan. A CDOT plan announced in 2010 would remove cars from some traffic lanes, rig key stoplights to favor the buses, improve sidewalks, install bicycle lanes and build specially branded bus stops equipped with GPS-powered &ldquo;next bus&rdquo; arrival signs.</p><p>The CTA, meanwhile, has a separate $1.6&nbsp;million federal grant to plan BRT options along a 21-mile stretch of Western Avenue. Another $11&nbsp;million from the feds is funding bus improvements this year along the South Side&rsquo;s Jeffrey Boulevard. That line, though billed as BRT, will lack many features for speeding up trips.</p></p> Tue, 21 Feb 2012 11:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/story/city-devotes-73-million-downtown-brt-96580 Union Station train collision sends at least 12 passengers to the hospital http://www.wbez.org/story/union-station-train-collision-sends-least-12-passengers-hospital-87371 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-03/train tracks Chicago_brandel.jpg.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>At least a dozen people suffered injuries and have been taken to area hospitals after two commuter trains collided, with one derailing, at Chicago's Union Station, city emergency officials said Friday morning.</p><p>A spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department says one of the trains derailed, but he didn't have any details. Metra spokesman Tom Miller says the collision occurred at about 8:15 a.m. Friday, but that to his knowledge no trains derailed. The crash involved a Burlington Northern commuter train from Aurora and an Amtrak train heading to Carbondale.</p><p>Spokesmen for the rail lines and the fire department say the two trains collided as a train on Metra's Burlington Northern line was coming into the station and the Amtrak train was leaving for Carbondale at about 8:15 a.m.</p><p>There was initial confusion about the location of the crash, with first responders arriving just north of the crash, which occurred under the Old Chicago Main Post Office on Congress Parkway.</p><p>Passengers, some complaining of head and neck injuries, had to evacuate through tunnels spanning almost four blocks.&nbsp; Officials said at least one person may have broken ribs and that there were two pregnant women that were in stable condition.</p><p>Metra board member Jack Schaffer was on the scene when a Metra train collided with a truck last month in suburban Mount Prospect. He said, "The train on train accident is unusual. Although I will tell you and I say this with some reluctance, we still are on high alert out for terrorism."</p><p>Spokesmen for both lines would not comment on which train caused the collision.</p><p>An investigation is underway.</p><p><em>--The Associated Press contributed to this article</em>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 03 Jun 2011 14:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/union-station-train-collision-sends-least-12-passengers-hospital-87371