WBEZ | railroad http://www.wbez.org/tags/railroad Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 40 years ago: The end of the line for a storied train station http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-11/40-years-ago-end-line-storied-train-station-109076 <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/4a22390r.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Illinois Central Railroad was once one of the mightiest businesses in the Midwest.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Beginning in the 1850s, &quot;The Main Line of Mid-America&quot; rolled freight and passenger trains out of Chicago into the deepest South and west to Iowa for well over a century. The railroad was so powerful, a few towns along its lines were named after the company&#39;s bosses or&mdash;in the case of Centralia, Illinois&mdash;the railroad itself.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And from the 1920s through the 1960s, its trains carried up black southerners by the hundreds of thousands&mdash;each of them trading in life in the rural and oppressive Jim Crow South for the chance of better days in the industrial north.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">All that might and money was expressed in Illinois Central&#39;s magnificent&mdash;and sadly, long gone&mdash;main passenger station built in 1893 at Roosevelt and Michigan.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Designed by New York architect Bradford Gilbert, the big Romanesque pile featured a 13-story tower and what was then the world&#39;s largest train shed. The building was demolished in 1974. But the pipes were calling a year earlier, in late 1973, when Illinois Central moved its offices to the then-new modernist Illinois Center office development near Wacker Drive east of Michigan Avenue.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Central Station neighborhood was built on the old station&#39;s site, beginning in 1990. But Gilbert&#39;s beauty lives on in <a href="http://www.loc.gov/search/?q=illinois+central+railroad+station">black-and-white photos</a> on the Library of Congress website. The pictures show the station in its earliest days when the building was quite the looker, as evident in the images from 1900 above.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">This image from 1910 shows a broad walkway leading toward the station&#39;s arched main entrance:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</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/4a22391r.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">This 1919 photograph shows the all-black 365th Infantry at the station:</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/061693prc.jpg" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">And here&#39;s Central Station near the end. The building is still majestic, but it&#39;s showing age and neglect:</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/061690pr.jpg" title="" /></p><p>Here&#39;s the waiting room in Central Station&#39;s last days. You wonder what kind of soaring spaces are hidden behind that dropped ceiling:</p><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/061694pr.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Cabs wait under a canopy outside the main entrance:</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/061693pr.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">...virtually idle passenger platforms to the south of the station...</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/061692pr.jpg" title="" /></div></div></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">The 1970s were a rough time for classic Chicago passenger stations, so Central Station&#39;s demise wasn&#39;t unusual. <a href="http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth28693/m1/1/">Grand Central Station</a> at Harrison and Wells was wrecked in 1971. Dearborn Station at Polk and Dearborn survived, but its tracks, platform and train shed were demolished in 1976.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">LaSalle Street Station at Van Buren and LaSalle barely survived the 1970s, but was razed in 1981 and a new station and office high rise was built in its place. Same for Chicago and Northwestern Railway station at 500 W.&nbsp; Madison. It was demolished in 1984 and replaced by Citicorp Center, which contains the Ogilvie Transportation Center.</div></div></div></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 06 Nov 2013 05:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-11/40-years-ago-end-line-storied-train-station-109076 Metra in the wind, sleet and rain http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/metra-wind-sleet-and-rain-108252 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Metra train thumbnail image Flickr Larry Darling.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cory Feign remembers being marooned somewhere between Mount Prospect and Chicago&rsquo;s Ogilvie Transportation Center, staring out the windows of a Metra train at a drizzly little storm.</p><p>What I would think of as a typical storm came through,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The kind of thing that if you were a kid you&rsquo;d be riding your bike through puddles as the storm was wrapping up, that trains should keep moving through. It didn&rsquo;t seem like, &lsquo;Thank God they stopped this train.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>That got him thinking:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>When and why did Metra start shutting down the entire regional train system due to potentially severe weather?</em></p><p>The 37-year-old rides his bike to Metra&rsquo;s Union Pacific Northwest line in suburban Mount Prospect every morning, commuting to his job across the street from Ogilvie as a trader for WRN. He says in recent years severe weather warnings have screeched trains to a halt more often than they used to.</p><p>At least compared to 2012, Cory is right. <a href="http://climateillinois.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/wet-june-and-wettest-year-to-date-in-illinois/">Until July this was Illinois&rsquo; wettest year to date</a>, with parts of the state <a href="http://climateillinois.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/il-prcp-mpe-m2d-dev-20130630.png">including northern Cook County, where Cory&#39;s train goes</a>, registering big departures from average precipitation between January and June.</p><p>Last year, extreme weather delayed 41 Union Pacific trains, compared to 209 so far this year. A lightning strike in April knocked out signals near Ogilvie, delaying 74 trains in one fell swoop.</p><p><strong>Ever-watchful tracks</strong></p><p>When we set out to answer Cory&rsquo;s question, Metra spokesman Mike Gillis corrected our course right away.</p><p>&ldquo;Metra has not recently shut down system-wide in bad weather,&rdquo; Gillis said. &ldquo;What has happened, however, is that BNSF Railway and Union Pacific have stopped trains.&rdquo; Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific are independent train companies, based in Texas and Nebraska respectively. They operate the Metra lines that bear their names, while Metra operates the seven remaining lines in the local commuter rail system.</p><p>BNSF, UP and Metra share the goal of keeping riders safe, Gillis said, but their operating rules vary slightly. So we asked Mark Davis, spokesman for Union Pacific.</p><p>&ldquo;Weather plays a huge role in the rail industry and has since its beginning,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The weather service AccuWeather provides UP with national weather data, he said, but the railroad company is already well-connected. It has sensors along railroad tracks across its 23-state network that measure the heat in railcar bearings. Those sensors feed data into a master computer system, which also gets information from about 1,400 temperature stations operated by UP.</p><p>&ldquo;Why is that important to us? Well, extreme weather fluctuations impact the rail itself,&rdquo; Davis said. &ldquo;During the summer, in extreme heat, rail wants to grow, metal wants to expand and grow. During the winter it&rsquo;s just the opposite &mdash; you have a huge temperature swing on the cold side and rail wants to pull apart.&rdquo;</p><p>Temperature swings cause slowdowns, or even put kinks in railroad switches.</p><p><strong>What happens during the rough stuff?</strong></p><p>When the weather&rsquo;s bad &mdash; but not bad enough to force a full shutdown &mdash; trains slow to less than 25 miles per hour. Metra dispatchers tell trains to reduce speed when there is a weather advisory for a tornado or severe thunderstorm.</p><p>High winds also pose a threat. At 70 miles per hour, wind can blow over a train car, but UP slows or stops service at 65 mph, in case there is a gust. AccuWeather currently provides wind speed information, updated every 15 minutes, but UP is rolling out its own network of wind sensors, Davis said.</p><p>Right now their closest wind sensor to Chicago is in central Iowa.</p><p>BNSF is working with Metra in Chicago to install wind detectors to provide real-time wind speed data along their line.</p><p>During a tornado warning, all UP trains stop in the warned area and usually wait at least 30 minutes after a warning is lifted, Davis said.</p><p>Metra uses similar protocol. Trains slow to 25 mph or less when there is a wind advisory above 60 mph. If wind speeds are expected to be above 70 mph, dispatchers tell trains outside the warning area to stop short as they close in, while workers inspect the track ahead. At 80 mph, or during a tornado warning, dispatchers instruct trains to stop at the first safe location and await further instructions even if they&rsquo;re outside the warning area.</p><p>Wind hasn&rsquo;t toppled any Midwest commuter trains in recent years, but coal trains and overloaded freight cars have blown over. In China<a href="http://web.archive.org/web/20070302073413/http:/www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/02/28/china.train.ap/index.html"> hurricane-strength winds during a sandstorm derailed an 11-car train, killing at least four people and injuring another 30</a>.</p><p>Luckily for Metra riders, such speeds aren&rsquo;t common in northern Illinois. According to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel, wind speeds have only topped 60 about 14 times since the early &rsquo;80s at O&rsquo;Hare (wind speed data is gathered at commercial airports).</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard to say if the number is really changing over time,&rdquo; Angel said. &ldquo;It appears to occur most often in the summer months.&rdquo;</p><p>But wind that wouldn&rsquo;t blow over cars might still rip off tree branches or bring down power lines. If a train engineer sees something on the tracks, he&rsquo;ll radio back to Metra&rsquo;s offices downtown.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve empowered our train crews,&rdquo; Davis said. &ldquo;If they feel it&rsquo;s unsafe they have the power to stop the train.&rdquo;</p><p>The worst disruption to area trains in recent years was the February second blizzard in 2011. Five Metra rail lines closed as more than 20 inches of snow blanketed Chicago. The other lines had to run on Sunday schedules.</p><p>So what about Cory&rsquo;s sense that shutdowns have become more common? Even if trains are still running during high winds and thunderstorms, he says it seems like they&rsquo;re running slowly. And those delays ripple out.</p><p>UP spokesman Davis likens it to O&rsquo;Hare, where a thunderstorm at one airport can affect airports across the country.</p><p><strong>Comparing notes: With your friends and en masse</strong></p><p>Cory has several friends who take a few of the other Metra lines. During delays they&rsquo;ve taken to sharing notes on weather conditions and announcements from train engineers.</p><p>&ldquo;I take the Northwest line and I have friends that take several of the other train lines. We kind of compare notes when these things are happening, because you get kind of bored sitting on the train with nothing to do,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Sometimes my friends will be like, &lsquo;Have you heard anything?&rsquo; &hellip; We have our own communication system to figure out when we might be able to get back home. It seems like that wouldn&rsquo;t be too hard to implement for the general public.&rdquo;</p><p>Metra does have<a href="https://twitter.com/Metra"> a Twitter feed</a>, which announces delays and advisories as they happen. &nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>ME Advisory - Inbound Train #118 Operating Approximately 15 to 20 Minutes Late <a href="http://t.co/7onDHeRl6Y">http://t.co/7onDHeRl6Y</a></p>&mdash; Metra (@Metra) <a href="https://twitter.com/Metra/statuses/362243482519220224">July 30, 2013</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>With all the different weather conditions that could slow or stop a train, Cory&rsquo;s impromptu database may be at a disadvantage. But if he and his friends have service on their smartphones, they might do well to check weather maps and advisories. The people running their train sure are.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes for WBEZ. Follow him at<a href="http://twitter.com/cementley"> @cementley</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 31 Jul 2013 16:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/metra-wind-sleet-and-rain-108252 Will Pullman ever be revitalized? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/will-pullman-ever-be-revitalized-107758 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F97763213&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>We have a lot of shorthand ways to talk about Chicago.</p><p>Boosters call it the &ldquo;city that works&rdquo; (a phrase coined by the late Arlington Heights writer <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1991/01/01/obituaries/frank-maier-57-dies-ex-newsweek-reporter.html">Frank Maier</a>, or maybe his <a href="http://chicago.straightdope.com/sdc20090903.php">editor</a>). Detractors gave the city perhaps its most famous &mdash; and its most vexing &mdash; identity as the <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/why-they-call-it-the-second-city/Content?oid=882456">&ldquo;second city.&rdquo;</a></p><p>For longtime residents though, I&rsquo;d wager Chicago is most a &ldquo;city of neighborhoods,&rdquo; an <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-are-chicago-neighborhoods-formed-103831">identity Curious City has looked into</a>.</p><p>But not every neighborhood gets the same love or foot traffic, and that fact got Hannah Loftus thinking.</p><p>Loftus grew up in Glen Ellyn and is, as of this writing, a newly-minted graduate of the University of Chicago. (Congrats, Hannah!) While earning her anthropology degree, Loftus made field trips to Pullman, a historic neighborhood that hugs the Bishop Ford Expressway south of 95th Street.</p><p>Those visits prompted her to ask Curious City:</p><p><em>Will Pullman ever be revitalized?</em></p><p>Loftus&rsquo; question came from a big discrepancy she observed, one that&rsquo;s dogged Pullman residents for decades: Pullman&rsquo;s history is vast and rich, but today it struggles from a lack of jobs and amenities.</p><p><strong>Visible history</strong></p><p>If you&rsquo;re not familiar with the history Loftus caught on to, here&rsquo;s a brief sketch.</p><p>Starting in 1880, industrialist George Pullman had a whole town built from scratch, to house workers at his Pullman Palace Car Company, which was churning out a new mode of rail travel: luxury sleeping cars. His town of Pullman was an early example of a planned community, one so striking it was voted the most perfect town in the world, at the Prague International Hygienic and Pharmaceutical Exposition of 1896.</p><p>But Pullman&rsquo;s town didn&rsquo;t draw attention just because of its layout and industry &mdash; the workers were notable, too. The nation&rsquo;s first black labor union has its roots here, and a strike started by Pullman workers became one of history&rsquo;s most violent labor contests.</p><p><a name="gallery"></a></p><div align="center" id="PictoBrowser130619183510"><a name="gallery">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</a></div><p><a name="gallery"><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "500", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Curious City: Pullman"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157634199298807"); so.addVariable("titles", "off"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "72"); so.write("PictoBrowser130619183510"); </script></a></p><p>Today, some of this past is still visible.</p><p>Ninety-eight percent of the town&rsquo;s original housing stock, which ranges from practical row houses to stately mansions, still stands. If you combine that with what&rsquo;s left of a factory complex as well as the historic Hotel Florence, a walk through Pullman can feel like wandering into a 19th century town.</p><p>Still, Pullman is not on everybody&rsquo;s radar.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s good to have this history,&rdquo; says Loftus. &ldquo;But it&rsquo;s not quite something you think about when you consider the overall history of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>In addition to its low profile, Loftus notes that Pullman also lacks basic resources, like grocery stores and jobs.</p><p>Now some residents I talked to questioned whether Pullman needs to be revitalized at all (they gave variations of &ldquo;What&rsquo;s wrong with our community the way it is?&rdquo;). But for many years community groups and aldermen have worked hard to develop the neighborhood.</p><p>For them the debate&rsquo;s been more about how &mdash; and not whether &mdash; to revitalize.</p><p><strong>History as resource?</strong></p><p>As ironic as this may sound, some are convinced Pullman&rsquo;s past is the big money maker.</p><p>Take Michael Shymanski. Officially, he&rsquo;s an architect and the President of the <a href="http://www.pullmanil.org/">Historic Pullman Foundation</a>. Unofficially, many call him the mayor of Pullman.</p><p>To get a better idea of Shymanski&rsquo;s vision, I tour the neighborhood with him. Turns out that vision draws from the design elements of the original town.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1%20%282%29.jpg" style="height: 180px; width: 270px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Jesse Jennings Sr. says lack of investment endangers the viability of Pullman and its racial diversity. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee) " />Pullman wanted a worker&rsquo;s utopia that he &mdash; the big boss &mdash; would control. He hired Solon Spencer Beman to design the community and factory complex (other still-existing Chicago structures by Beman include the Blackstone Library and the Fine Arts Building). Nathan F. Barrett developed the town&rsquo;s landscapes.</p><p>Shymanski says everything was oriented toward the railroad and making a grand impression upon train passengers. The main administrative building with its large clock tower was situated directly across from the train station. It was set back and preceded by a curvilinear drive and Lake Vista, a large reflecting pond that happened to fed by condensation collected from the huge Corliss engine that powered the Pullman machinery.</p><p>George Pullman constructed other facilities, too, including a church, a central market, and an arcade that housed a 500-seat theatre, a library, a post office and small shops for tailors and dentists.</p><p>&ldquo;Even today it&rsquo;s a model for pedestrian-scale development,&rdquo; says Shymanski. &ldquo;People could walk to all their normal activities within 10 minutes or so. They could get produce at Market Hall. There were all kinds of recreation activities along the edge of Lake Calumet. They could walk to work and were just a few steps from a train station that would take them downtown.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>The decline</strong></p><p>There&rsquo;s not as much to walk to today.</p><p>Pullman&rsquo;s dream of a model community evaporated, thanks to a crippling recession and the resulting workers strike (Pullman cut the workforce and wages, but kept charging the same rents). In 1898, Pullman was ordered to sell off non-factory property, including all the residential buildings (Chicago had annexed Pullman previously, in 1889). Though the factory <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1028.html">kept manufacturing cars until the late 1970&rsquo;s</a>, the area went through some major changes.</p><p>Through destruction or decay, some of the key infrastructure is gone. The Arcade Building was torn down in 1927, rendered obsolete by newer shopping areas. After multiple fires and a 1930s makeover, Market Hall is mainly a shell of brick and girders, though the original apartment buildings that form the square around the hall remain.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/arcade2.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; height: 242px; width: 270px;" title="The Pullman Arcade Building, as photographed in the late 1880s.(Photo courtesy of Historic Pullman Foundation)" /></p><p>The main administration building and clock tower, damaged by arson in 1998, have undergone some restoration and stabilization, but they&rsquo;re cordoned off behind a chain link fence.</p><p>What&rsquo;s left? In addition to the residences, the Greenstone Church remains sturdy, and there&rsquo;s the Hotel Florence, which is currently <a href="http://www.pullman-museum.org/misc/construction.html">being restored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency</a>.</p><p>That any of this remains has much to do with the various historic designations Pullman has earned over the years.</p><p>In the 1960s there was an effort to raze Pullman and turn it into an industrial park. A civic group formed to fight this move, and since then the neighborhood has been granted local, state and federal landmark status.</p><p><strong>The drive for a park</strong></p><p>Despite its historic designations, Pullman hasn&rsquo;t yet figured out how to cash in on its past.</p><p>The Pullman Historic Foundation runs a visitors center, conducts tours and hosts events. The state offers regular tours and some interpretation of the (largely empty) factory building.</p><p>In the northern part of the district you can also visit the <a href="http://www.aphiliprandolphmuseum.com/">A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum</a>, which tells the story of how Pullman porters, who were all African American, became <a href="http://publications.newberry.org/pullman/">the first black union</a> in the United States. &nbsp;</p><p>But most of this history isn&rsquo;t tied together, and when visitors do come, they don&rsquo;t find much in the way of permanent programming, or even a dedicated gift shop to buy historic Pullman souvenirs.</p><p>So to draw more tourists and help revive Pullman&rsquo;s local economy, many Pullman boosters are trying to turn the area into a national historical park.</p><p>The idea was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/2012-01-31/could-citys-pullman-community-become-home-chicagos-first-national-park-95974">proposed in early 2012 </a>by former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. who <a href="http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3894">asked the Secretary of the Interior</a> to undertake a &ldquo;reconnaissance study&rdquo; of Pullman.</p><p>The National Park Service agreed. And according to Lynn McClure of the National Parks Conservation Association, the report &mdash; which, they say, should be out any day &mdash; is a &ldquo;high five&rdquo; for making Pullman a national park.</p><p>Now all that&rsquo;s required is congressional approval. Though Congress isn&rsquo;t known for acting swiftly, McClure is confident.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no reason we can&rsquo;t get it done by the end of 2014,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>What would park status bring?</p><p>Pullman currently has some tourism traffic, but not a lot.</p><p>Mike Wagenbach of the State Historic Site says the neighborhood draws between 25,000 and 35,000 visitors each year. That&rsquo;s a drop in the bucket when you consider Chicago saw <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/chi-chicago-draws-near-record-46m-tourists-in-2012-20130610,0,4660651.story">46.2 million visitors last year.</a></p><p>No doubt Pullman&rsquo;s low turnout has something to do with its location; though the neighborhood is just off a major freeway to its east, it&rsquo;s still 10 miles from the Loop. And that means it&rsquo;s far off the tourism industry&rsquo;s beaten path.</p><p>Lynn McClure says &ldquo;nobody is naive enough to think that [a park] would significantly increase tourism,&rdquo; but her office recently undertook an economic study to determine what effect such a designation might have on the area.</p><p>It turns out the idea of using a national park to generate economic activity has precedent.</p><p>In 1978, Lowell Massachusetts, once a significant player in America&rsquo;s historic textile industry, was turned into a park. Thirty years later, a study assessing its impact said the park acted as a catalyst, attracting and even speeding up investment.</p><p>Mike Shymanski says if Pullman were a national park, with lots of interpretation and tourism infrastructure, it <em>would </em>draw more people <em>and </em>give them somewhere to spend their money.</p><p>And that cash &mdash; the theory goes &mdash; could help revitalize Pullman.</p><p>&ldquo;The current purchasing power in the neighborhood can&rsquo;t sustain redevelopment,&rdquo; says Shymanski, &ldquo;But if we had 100,000 or 200,000 visitors coming a year, we could.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Pullman 2.0</strong></p><p>Still, not everyone is banking on Pullman&rsquo;s past.</p><p>&ldquo;Certainly the historic parts are important and we want to be sensitive to that,&rdquo; says David Doig, president of the non-profit Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives. &ldquo;But unless it&rsquo;s a desirable community with all the amenities that people expect, you know people aren&rsquo;t going to want to live there.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1%20%281%29.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; width: 200px; height: 300px;" title="David Doig, left, says development in Pullman should prioritize improvement in people's everyday living conditions. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" />To make a point about Pullman&rsquo;s future, Doig takes me up to the 11th floor of the U.S. Bank Building, his base of operations. There, we have a birds-eye view of a 180-acre construction site and the future home of a development called <a href="http://www.cnigroup.org/economic.html">Pullman Park</a>.</p><p>CNI is doing a lot to revitalize Pullman &mdash; everything from backing <a href="http://community.suntimes.com/swchicago/2012/12/06/pullman-to-become-thriving-art-neighborhood/">an artists space</a> to <a href="http://hpherald.com/2013/03/01/chicago-neighborhood-initiatives-impacting-pullman/">rehabbing historic homes</a> &mdash; but Pullman Park is their biggest and maybe most ambitious effort.</p><p>The mixed-use development underway at 111th Street and the Bishop Ford Freeway will sport a Walmart store (slated to open this fall), as well 1,000 units of housing, a recreation facility and park areas. There are also plans for pedestrian-scale retail.</p><p>Put all this together, and you see Doig&rsquo;s creating a Pullman 2.0.</p><p>It may be a scaled-down version of George Pullman&rsquo;s all-encompassing community, but it&rsquo;s one that would provide what locals say the neighborhood now lacks: retail spaces, jobs, affordable housing and community facilities. Fittingly, this new community would sit atop part of Pullman&rsquo;s former factory complex (Ryerson Steel Processing Inc., <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1987-02-16/business/8701120766_1_george-pullman-metals-industrial">bought part of the plant </a>in the late 1980s, but shut it down in 2006.)</p><p>Doig says his development and other efforts to revitalize historic Pullman are &ldquo;not competing but complementary.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We really view this as kind of a catalyst for what we hope will be other forms of private investment and revitalization in the broader community,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>So what are the prospects for Pullman?</p><p>Mike Shymanski thinks things bode well for a true revitalization, despite all the years of investment that haven&rsquo;t yet made a difference.</p><p>&ldquo;Eventually, good ideas have their celestial order that makes them happen,&rdquo; says Shymanski. &ldquo;And I think we&rsquo;re very close to that.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter. Follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport">Instagram.</a>&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Special thanks to the Historic Pullman Foundation, which gave Alison Cuddy permission to use several images posted here. You can find more at <a href="https://www.facebook.com/historicpullman/photos_albums">the organization&#39;s Facebook page</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://www.pullmanil.org/">website</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 18 Jun 2013 16:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/will-pullman-ever-be-revitalized-107758 Afghanistan finally embraces the railroad http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-03-15/afghanistan-finally-embraces-railroad-97333 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2012-March/2012-03-15/AP120309168397.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Afghanistan is virtually unique in the world for its long history of preventing the construction of a railway system. However, that seems to be changing. The war-torn country recently completed its first major railroad project. Several more are in the works. Jared Nolan of <a href="http://warnewsradio.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">War News Radio</a> explores Afghanistan’s belated embrace of rail transportation.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>This segment was provided courtesy of <a href="http://www.prx.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">Public Radio Exchange</a>. </em></p></p> Thu, 15 Mar 2012 20:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-03-15/afghanistan-finally-embraces-railroad-97333 Gary Chicago Airport facing expansion delays http://www.wbez.org/story/gary-chicago-airport-facing-expansion-delays-91949 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-14/Gary Chicago Airport_Flickr_Eric Alix Rogers.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A lack of cooperation from several railroads is slowing the expansion at the Gary Chicago International Airport in Gary, Indiana. &nbsp;And, that’s bad news since the airport is on a tight schedule.</p><p>The airport needs to extend its main runway within the 2 ½ years or it could lose more than $150 million from the Federal Aviation Administration.</p><p>Extending the runway is seen as a key to the airport landing a commercial airliner and larger cargo airplanes. &nbsp;But to extend the runway by nearly 2,000, several railroad tracks need to be removed or realigned. That’s proven tough to do.</p><p>Railroad companies such as CN, CSX and Norfolk Southern have been resisting some of the airport’s plans for realigning the tracks. Work started last May and needs to be completed by December 2013.</p><p>Gary Chicago airport board member Ross Amundson says while he doesn’t think the project is in jeopardy, he does believe the pace of work needs to pick up considerably.</p><p>“Railroads are tough to deal with. I think part of our issue is just getting the attention of the decision makers,” Amundson told WBEZ on Tuesday. “We just can’t get decisions done in a timely manner that we need them done in to stay on our schedule.”</p><p>Amundson says the airport will seek assistance from Northwest Indiana’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-Indiana), to help move things along quicker.</p></p> Tue, 13 Sep 2011 23:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/gary-chicago-airport-facing-expansion-delays-91949 All aboard: Illinois gets moving on high-speed rail http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-01/all-aboard-illinois-gets-moving-high-speed-rail-83168 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//high speed rail London Getty Kitwood.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The governors of Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin have turned down federal funding for high-speed rail service. But in Illinois, the sentiment is&nbsp; &ldquo;All aboard.&rdquo; The proposal for improvements along the Chicago-St. Louis corridor aims to connect arterial regions. And now, the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.dot.state.il.us/">Illinois Department of Transportation</a> is asking for public input on the plans.<a target="_blank" href="http://elpc.org/"><br /><br />The Environmental Law and Policy Center</a> has worked throughout its 15-year history to develop and promote high-speed rail in the Midwest. <a target="_blank" href="http://elpc.org/elpc-staff">Howard Learner</a> is the center&rsquo;s executive director and he joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to share what these meetings hope to accomplish.</p></p> Tue, 01 Mar 2011 14:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-01/all-aboard-illinois-gets-moving-high-speed-rail-83168