Terminal Town was 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 offered everyone in the metropolitan region opportunities to take part in presentations, special events, tours and competitions. The festival also included 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 was made possible by many sponsors in Chicago and 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.
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We thank everyone whose joined us at our special events, including a commemoration at Midway Airport, historic station tours, commemorative banquets, and discussions.
A widely-acclaimed illustrated book featuring 50+ stations and terminals with 235 color photographs, and 20 custom maps, Terminal Town provides a fascinating portrait of the city’s famously complex transportation system.
We are grateful for those who submitted photos and stories, completed the “Terminal Test” at an exhibit location, and participated in our raffle competitions.
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.