METRA and South Shore Line (suburban rail network), Chicago
The Ogilvie Transportation Center is the Metra Station for the north shore suburbs of Chicago. (I used it to take the train up to the Ravinia Festival in highland Park.) The terminal is at the base of the Citicorp Center, this 1987 glass tower designed by the German - Chicagoan Helmut Jahn.
It used to be known as the Chicago & Northwestern Station, and I think most long-term Chicagoans still refer to it that way. on a typical business day, about 40,000 commuters pass through the station, though it's a lot quieter on weekend.
Chicago has a pretty extensive network of trains serving the suburbs. I came across this part of the Metra website this morning that gives directions on how to get from the Metra stations to the major attractions and thought it might be useful to someone if they live or are staying in the suburbs.
A couple of other notes about Metra trains:
Tickets-there are discount prices for commuters-monthly passes and 25 rides. For families, children are free/discounted on non rush hour trains. See all the fare rules here:
You also pay more if you buy your ticket on the train!
Pace buses-some suburban stations have connections with Pace buses, if you find the station you want to go to, it will link you with the Pace bus schedules.
The South Shore Line serves several cities in northern Indiana and is northern Indiana's commuter train to Chicago. The South Shore Line station in downtown Chicago is on Randolph Street (near Michigan Ave) -- same station as the Metra Electric. The train diverges from the Metra Electric line at Kensington/115th street and goes to Hammond, Gary, Portage, Chesterton, Michigan City, and South Bend. A ticket from Chicago to South Bend (station at the South Bend Regional Airport) costs a little more than $10.
This is my preferred way of getting into the city. The Metra is available from just about every major suburb around Chicago, and will drop you off at one of our two train stations (only a block apart) right downtown. On weekends, you can get a $5 pass that is good for unlimited rides on Saturday and Sunday. Check their website for schedules.
In a word: stunning. Rightfully regarded as one of the most beautiful interior public spaces in the country, the interior of Union Station, designed in a Beaux-Arts style with a vaulted skylight roof, elegant balconies and staircases and an airy, open waiting room, will make you cry when you consider the pathetic state of United States rail service (brought about by federal collusion with the auto industry, NOT merely a change in public tastes.)
Even if your journey won't be taking you to Union Station, take a peek inside, it is well worth it and you never know what interesting things you'll see. Besides haggered or harried travelers I met a group of 30 Amish people who were paying a visit to the Big City.
Built between 1913-25, the grand Union Station harkens back to a bygone era, when rail was king and when Chicago was the railroad center of the United States. Located at 210 S. Canal Street, Union Station is bounded by Clinton and Canal on the west and east and Adams and Jackson to the north and south. Amtrak and commuter Metra services still eminate from this building.
Formerly called "Northwestern Station," while not as famous as "Union Station" (a major passenger rail hub, located roughly two blocks to the South), the recent renovation it was given includes a mixture of the traditional and modern.
The South Shore: bringing frown-faced people to work in the morning and wide-eyed youngsters to the city on weekends for almost 80 years now. The last of the electric interurbans that criss-crossed the eastern and midwestern United States, a ride on the South Shore is a ride of an era now long gone. It’s also very common for the trains to be running late, usually between 5 to 20 minutes. Everyone knows this, but they groan at the announcements anyway.
The South Shore runs from the Randolph Street Station in the Loop to the South Bend Regional Airport. It is best for visiting Chicago from Northwest Indiana, Michigan City or South Bend. If you’re in Chicago and up for some wilderness hiking, the Dune Park and Beverly Shores stops are close to nice parts of the Indiana Dunes. Pictured left is one of the classic South Shore posters created in the late 1920s and displayed around Chicago, touting the industrial strength and natural beauty of northern, particularly northwestern, Indiana. This good lookin’ girl is on prominent display at my place. Many of the old South Shore posters are highly valued collectables now.
The commuter line, Metra, serves almost 250 stations in Chicago’s Illinois-surburbs. Mostly used for people going to and from work, it can also be of use to visitors. Some of the places with service, like Oak Lawn, are very much worth visiting. Or you can shop yourself stupid in downtown Chicago and then shop yourself stupid again in Schaumburg.
Fares and routes vary, check out their website. They offer a $5 weekend pass that is a good deal, especially for families. Trains almost always run on time and delays are mentioned on radio and TV news. If you buy a ticket on the train when the station's ticket office was open the conductor adds a surcharge
How Parisian! This elaborate gateway is in the style of the classic "art nouveau" Metro signs in Paris. It's another example of Mayor Daley civic borrowings from the French capital.
Every train station has its own setup and character, but this is the one in Libertyville, which is one of the closest to my home. It also has a Caribou Coffee a few steps away, which I like. :)
The Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad connects Chicago with the Indiana coast. It is the last real interurban railway in America.