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  #5521  
Old Posted Jul 28, 2009, 5:06 PM
lawfin lawfin is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr Downtown View Post
So, what's "unsafe" about people in a city crossing a two-lane street?

Jaywalking is a concept invented by the motorists' lobby in the 1920s.
Agreed...I was just going to say...listen to your Mom...look both ways....you'll be fine
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  #5522  
Old Posted Jul 28, 2009, 5:37 PM
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^^^
What's unsafe? Other than the fact that thousands of people crossing the street each day slow traffic and increase the likelihood of accidents, nothing is unsafe about crossing the street. I'd like to think everyone is as responsible as I am, but the city of Chicago has 3 million people. Some of them are bound to be irresponsible or forget to look both ways every once in a while.

If the CTA can reduce those odds by opening a station entrance on the north side of the street, it's money well spent.
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  #5523  
Old Posted Jul 28, 2009, 7:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr Downtown View Post
So, what's "unsafe" about people in a city crossing a two-lane street?

Jaywalking is a concept invented by the motorists' lobby in the 1920s.
I'm not sure, perhaps the people literally stepping into traffic expecting it to stop for them.

Go take a look at morning and evening rush and tell me there isn't a problem.
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  #5524  
Old Posted Jul 28, 2009, 7:40 PM
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If the CTA can reduce those odds by opening a station entrance on the north side of the street, it's money well spent.
Not if you can spend 95% less and just open a crosswalk. There's one at Irving Park that works nicely.
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  #5525  
Old Posted Jul 28, 2009, 8:03 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Not if you can spend 95% less and just open a crosswalk. There's one at Irving Park that works nicely.
I guess the CTA thought it was worth it for a station that sees more than four times the rider entrances that Irving Park does.
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  #5526  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2009, 4:26 AM
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I'm not sure, perhaps the people literally stepping into traffic expecting it to stop for them.

Go take a look at morning and evening rush and tell me there isn't a problem.
It is a little frustrating trying to cross Belmont to get to the station entrance. When I catch the train from that station, I'm typically coming from the north which means I always have to dodge traffic to get to the station unless I want to walk down to the end of the block just to backtrack to the station. The north entrance will be immensely convenient for people. While I'm sure there will still be people trying to cross the street in the future, particularly when they exit the platform at the wrong stairwell, I'm guessing the number of people crossing busy Belmont will drop quite a fair from what it currently is. The less possibility for vehicle/pedestrian collisions, the better IMHO.
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  #5527  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2009, 4:47 AM
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I guess the CTA thought it was worth it for a station that sees more than four times the rider entrances that Irving Park does.
Oh, I appreciate the addition of the entrance. I'm just trying to point out that it's a very expensive solution to the problem - especially when the crosswalk at Sheffield is only, what, 150 feet away?
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  #5528  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2009, 1:42 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Oh, I appreciate the addition of the entrance. I'm just trying to point out that it's a very expensive solution to the problem - especially when the crosswalk at Sheffield is only, what, 150 feet away?
I know that sounds logical but it just isn't what people are doing as OhioGuy notes above. People are always going to take the shortcut unless there's an aux entrance.

There is also good news in that the old station house has a use and wasn't just demolished.
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  #5529  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2009, 1:52 PM
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Originally Posted by OhioGuy View Post
It is a little frustrating trying to cross Belmont to get to the station entrance. When I catch the train from that station, I'm typically coming from the north which means I always have to dodge traffic to get to the station unless I want to walk down to the end of the block just to backtrack to the station. The north entrance will be immensely convenient for people. While I'm sure there will still be people trying to cross the street in the future, particularly when they exit the platform at the wrong stairwell, I'm guessing the number of people crossing busy Belmont will drop quite a fair from what it currently is. The less possibility for vehicle/pedestrian collisions, the better IMHO.
It should reduce traffic congestion as well, as cars don't have to constantly wait on people to cross in front of them.
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  #5530  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2009, 8:22 AM
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There is also good news in that the old station house has a use and wasn't just demolished.
I believe the CTA can't use Federal money to tear down certain types of historic structures. If that's the case, then they didn't have a choice about saving the stationhouses.
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  #5531  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2009, 1:43 PM
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^Only structures listed on the National Register. I doubt that would include any Brown Line stations, except perhaps Armitage.
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  #5532  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2009, 3:38 PM
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^ Thanks for the clarification. I thought contributing structures in historic districts counted, too...
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  #5533  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 4:04 AM
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Contributing structures within a National Register District would count. But where on the North Side, other than Armitage, would a National Register District include an L station?
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  #5534  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2009, 4:03 AM
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Speaking of showing some respect to historic stations... can anybody tell me why Union Station (the main building) has gotten such unfair treatment over the years?

First, it loses its concourse in a sacrifice to the gods of commerce, resulting in what is perhaps Chicago's most boring office tower - which, by the way, is a carbon copy of One Shell Square in New Orleans.

The concourse had an interior atrium modeled after those at Penn Station in New York - an open, glassy space with lots of lacy ironwork. In another sacrifice to the gods of commerce, Burnham designed the headhouse to be capped off with an office building. But with or without an office building, the result is an extremely ungainly and awkward classical structure that is only redeemed by its wonderful atrium.

The former concourse.

Then, in a series of annoying but understandable moves, Metra decides to shift EVERYTHING, including ticket sales, Amtrak baggage, shops, and waiting rooms to the mezzanine level above the tracks, moving everything out of the only remaining part of the Burnham design and hiring - get this - Lucien Lagrange to build the new, cramped underground facilities.

Today, Union Station is all but forgotten, hiding in plain sight. Its taxi turnarounds are shut down for national security reasons, although they aren't within range of anything passenger-related, thanks to Metra's eastward shift. Its atrium is still soaring and awe-inspiring, but the benches are just used by people eating lunch or grabbing some Zs. The train departure sign in the center is scuffed, tacky, and far too small for the space. Just off the main space is an arcade - the video game kind - where you can find Dinosaur Hunter and a Playboy pinball machine. Hardly fitting of Burnham's legacy.

While many other cities have repurposed their unused and/or oversized railroad stations, Chicago continues to let our station languish. They barely even clean it. The West Loop Transportation Center notwithstanding, Chicago needs to find a good use for this space that draws the crowds. Hopefully Metra and Amtrak can undo their mistake and move train-related stuff back into the headhouse. If they don't, then the city needs to find restaurants and museums and other things to bring the people in.
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Last edited by ardecila; Aug 1, 2009 at 4:16 AM.
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  #5535  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2009, 6:20 AM
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^Unfair treatment compared to Central, Grand Central, LaSalle Street, and North Western Stations? We should just be glad it's still here!

The main reason in recent years is probably Amtrak ownership. It was NRPC, not Metra, who hired Lagrange for the early 90s remodeling. Perennially cash-strapped NRPC can't afford to air-condition the Great Hall, though they did at least restore it after the fire in the 80s and reopen the skylight. A run of bad luck, I guess, has prevented the office development from launching in three successive real estate cycles—though the design gets better each time it's proposed again.

And by the way, I don't think Burnham had much of anything to do with Union Station in Chicago. Burnham died three years before construction began. The spendid plan and circulation scheme was all worked out by Thomas Rodd of the Pennsylvania R.R., and the neoclassical design (even the office building scheme added as an afterthought) was by Peirce Anderson.
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  #5536  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2009, 6:35 AM
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How did it function/circulate prior to the early 90s remodel? I can't remember. Agreed that the current configuration is incredibly lame given the importance it should have.
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  #5537  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2009, 3:35 PM
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My memory has also grown hazy, but I think the only Amtrak waiting area in the concourse side was a small one for sleeping-car passengers. The Lagrange remodel pushed the east wall of that level out onto a former track area to create the new Amtrak waiting area. The Metra ticket windows, and maybe the Amtrak ticket windows as well, were located in the passageway under Canal Street. Food service and other vendors were scattered around both sides of that passageway, not upstairs in the concourse. I think the escalators bringing Metra pax in from Riverside Plaza came down in the middle of the current Amtrak maelstrom, creating a ball of confusion there.

Even originally, in the heyday of train travel, I think 75% of the action was always in the concourse building. You had waiting long-distance pax populating the Great Hall, you had arriving and departing taxi patrons, and you had the restaurants on the west side pulling people over that way, but functionally the headhouse building was always a cul-de-sac west of the real action.

I might say that Amtrak in recent years has been looking seriously at another remodel, as growing patronage is again overwhelming their facilities at CUS. To me the greatest loss is the closing of the taxi drives, which has created huge traffic congestion upstairs for very dubious security reasons.
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  #5538  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2009, 11:33 PM
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I agree about the taxi drives. As far as I can tell, the station would be no more vulnerable than it is now, with a full street grid above the station.

I'm hoping that Amtrak will put some of its high-speed rail money into a repurposing of the Great Hall. According the Midwest HSR website, they sold most of the rights to an events-planning firm.

Of course, if the West Loop Transportation Center is ever built, the west alcove of the Great Hall will probably be turned into an escalator bank down to the Clinton concourse, and the Great Hall itself will become a critical artery connecting Metra and conventional Amtrak with the Red Line and high-speed trains.

Both Washington and Kansas City offer wonderful models of how cavernous and oversized station spaces can be repurposed to once again return throngs of people to the space. Kansas City used museums and a handful of shops, while Washington used shopping, a food court, and destination restaurants. Both of these are done tastefully, unlike the travesty that is St. Louis Union Station.
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  #5539  
Old Posted Aug 2, 2009, 2:41 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Both Washington and Kansas City offer wonderful models of how cavernous and oversized station spaces can be repurposed to once again return throngs of people to the space. Kansas City used museums and a handful of shops, while Washington used shopping, a food court, and destination restaurants. Both of these are done tastefully, unlike the travesty that is St. Louis Union Station.
^ Serious? What's wrong with St Louis' Union Station? It's basically a retail center, and the last time I went there it seemed to attract a pretty good number of patrons.
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  #5540  
Old Posted Aug 2, 2009, 3:28 PM
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Its because its a lame mall in a grand space with no active rail activity. If that isn't a shame, I don't know what is.
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