Discover Where Natures Meets the City | Fragments of History Outside Your Doorstep

15 August 2017


Central Station's fragments in 1000M's front yard

Located on Chicago’s front yard, 1000M is enmeshed in the city’s deep history. Signs of how the city has evolved and continues to grow are right outside your doorstep. Not every historical remnant is obvious, though.

Ever wonder what the two stone markers are just north of East Roosevelt Road and west of the Amtrak rail? They are the last fragments of the Central Station, a passenger train station erected on the southern end of Grant Park in 1893. The Romanesque-style station, designed by architect Bradford L. Gilbert, was comprised of a 9-story main building, a 13-story clock tower and, at the time it was built, the largest train shed in the world, measuring 140 x 610 feet.

Despite beautiful architecture and a rich history, when Amtrak consolidated the city’s train terminals in 1971, Central’s Station did not make the cut. The station was demolished in 1974.

However, tidbits of Chicago’s Central Station survive to the present day in the form of two beautifully carved Milford granite fragments. The fragments were part of the large arch that passengers walked through when they first arrived in Chicago, a symbol of welcome similar to the sight of the Statue of Liberty when immigrants arrived at Ellis Island in New York Harbor.

Since 2004, the Central Station fragments have been installed in Grant Park, just north of East Roosevelt Street and west of the Amtrak line. Humble in comparison to the station’s former regal immensity, the fragments rest in the grass about the distance from one another as the width of the original arch. To the north is the Grant Skate Park. Just to the west you can see the Field Museum. In the midst of this robust section of the Cultural Mile, the fragments are a subtle, but powerful reminder of the city’s rich history.