Monday, March 30, 2009

UNION STATION. Another Question of Scale

Sometime during the history of Union Station, Peirce Anderson's hand drawn letters placed carefully in ink on linen were forgotten. In typical modesty, he had labeled the architectural drawing for this astonishing space "Main Waiting Room." Today it has become THE GREAT HALL.

THE GREAT HALL! How big should a public space be? Another story higher? Ten feet longer? More? How is this decision made? Pre-Great War Architects measured their work in terms of the Ancients. Columns rivalled only by the Temple of Karnak. Or in the case of City Hall.....only by St. Peter's in Rome. Consider the accomplishment of this Architect and this Client. That ninety years later, in an era of "supertalls" and high speed rail, this space, still, has the capability to "astonish." I hate to leave. But Peirce Anderson's Field Museum, with a very good story of its own, is just up the street. With one last look at the Waiting Room, note Henry Hering's allegorical figures of Day and Night flanking the Ticket Agent's Concourse. Details of these will be displayed at And if you know anything about the Jenney sculptures, let me know.
CHICAGO PHOTOGRAPHS are available for purchase at

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