Terminal Town is a festival of events showcasing Chicago’s extraordinary role as a center of U.S. passenger transportation. The formal program ran from 2014 to September 2015, but its legacy lives on in public programs and a traveling exhibit. The festival offers everyone in the metropolitan region opportunities take part in presentations, special events, tours and competitions. The festival also includes a traveling exhibit and an all-color illustrated book. All are designed to foster appreciation of the Chicago region’s importance as a transportation center and the exciting possibilities ahead.
Terminal Town is made possible by many sponsors in the Chicago and is supported by faculty and staff from the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University, Lake Forest College, and other institutions. This is an independent website not formally affiliated with these universities and maintained on a volunteer basis to enhance public awareness of our city and region's rich transportation legacy. The website is maintained primarily to support the traveling exhibit now at Chicago Union Station.
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An all-new book featuring 48 stations and terminals with 215 color photographs, and 20 custom maps, Terminal Town provides a fascinating portrait of the city’s famously complex transportation system.
Submit a photo and story, or complete the “Terminal Test” at an exhibit location, and become eligible for one of dozens of prizes. Participating in one of our competitions automatically registers you for our raffle!
Why celebrate Chicago’s rich legacy as a terminal town?
- Between the 1930s and 1998, Chicago was home to the world’s busiest airport (initially Midway Airport and later O’Hare International Airport). Passengers boarding in Chicago could—and can still—fly directly to more major American cities than from any other city in the country?
- From 1953 to 1989, Chicago was home to the nation’s largest independently operated bus depot—the Chicago Greyhound Station—a facility that offered direct bus service to more places than from any other American city?
- From the beginning of the twentieth century through 1969, Chicago had six major downtown railroad stations—twice as many as any other large American city?
- Chicago’s system of passenger transportation terminals, famously complex and constantly changing, has for more than a century been a defining feature of its cosmopolitan character.