Tag Archives: DePaul

The Complexity of Connections

CBR_Logo2Terminal Town:
An Illustrated Guide to Chicago’s Airports,
Bus Depots, Train Stations, and
Steamship
Landings
1939–Present
by Joseph P. Schwieterman

Back in the day, State Street and Madison Street marked “the world’s busiest corner,” with nearly 70,000 people passing through the lively intersection every day. Many of these were travelers, coming to or passing through Chicago via planes, trains, or automobiles, making their way through the various terminuses that dotted the city.

Joseph Schwieterman, professor at the School of Public Service and director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University, examines the many terminuses that have marked Chicago in Terminal Town, an illustrated history of nearly fifty train stations, bus depots, steamship landings, and airports. The guide looks at the city’s constantly changing web of passenger transportation over the past seven decades.

terminal-townTerminal Town takes the reader on a well-researched journey through Chicago’s iconic and little-remembered transportation hubs, from Union Station and O’Hare Airport to Grand Central Station, which stood at 201 W. Harrison Street and ceased operations in 1969, and Chicagoland Airport in Lincolnshire, which closed in 1978. Schwieterman looks at the “Big Six” train stations that handled passengers for more than forty years, the evolution of a half dozen bus terminals, a couple steamship landings, and more than a dozen airports and air-taxi terminuses, as well as electric interurban railway systems (e.g., Randolph Street Station). More than two hundred photographs and two dozen maps illustrate the guide. (Sadly, the book’s design is marred by the microscopic type in which the captions have been set.)

In these pages, readers will find a unique take on Chicago’s history. Looking at the ebb and flow of transportation during the past seven decades provides an unusual lens through which to examine a city. Terminuses are erected, moved, closed, abandoned, and torn down as population centers shift and change and as modes of transportation fall in and out of favor. Transportation companies battle for superiority among their customers over the competition, only to capitulate to changing tastes and disappear. City engineers draw up plans for intermodal hubs, schemes that go nowhere and hubs that eventually serve no one. It’s a fascinating look at Chicago and how it has changed over the years.

Transportation buffs, particularly railfans, will find the book of most interest, tracing as it does the ebb and flow of various train stations, bus stops, airports, and so on. Architecture enthusiasts also will find Terminal Town of interest, as Schwieterman chronicles the comings and goings of various structures that housed terminuses of all kinds. Many of the buildings were either torn down or abandoned, taking with them pieces of Chicago’s history. Among those lost are Central Station, which stood at Michigan Avenue and 11th Place; Grand Central, noted above; the National Trailways bus station, which stood at 20 E. Randolph Street; the Wells Street Terminal at 314 S. Wells Street; and the 63rd Street–Woodlawn Station, which until the 1950s was situated in what was a bustling transportation hub. Schwieterman explains that preservationists have lost many a hard-fought battle to save some of these buildings, but he also notes that the notion of historic preservation was too late in coming to save many of them.

Terminal Town is packed with details, and it is clear that Schwieterman has done his research. Not only will readers learn about terminuses they likely have never even heard of, but in perusing these pages, they also will find strange and interesting facts that pique interest, such as, for example, that Chicago Rockford International Airport was originally created to “support a U.S. Cavalry detachment in 1917.” The book is full of such details. Unfortunately, however, at times it seems potentially interesting information has been left out, such as when the author writes that “visitors can still find evidence of [the] profound physical presence” of Central and Grand Central stations but doesn’t note exactly where in the city that evidence can be found or what that evidence consists of.

Too, some of the information seems a little “inside baseball,” as it were, geared specifically for those transportation enthusiasts who clearly will make up the bulk of the book’s audience. Readers who are new to the subject likely will not look at Terminal Town as a primer on the subject of metropolitan development and transportation—but that doesn’t mean it won’t be of interest to them. There’s plenty here for Chicagophiles, history buffs, and architecture enthusiasts to take a trip through these pages.

Three-Star Review

September 2014, Lake Forest College Press
History
$27.95, paperback, 296 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9823156-9-9

—Reviewed by Kelli Christiansen

Learn more about the book.
Listen to the author discuss the book on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” with Phil Ponce.

 

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Proof That God Loves Us (and Wants Us to Drink Local)

CBR_Logo2Illinois Wines & Wineries:
The Essential Guide
by Clara Orban

September is Illinois Wine Month (one of the worthy things former Governor Rod Blagojevich instituted before being sent off to jail), so the timing seems ripe for a look at Illinois Wines & Wineries by DePaul University professor Clara Orban.

Although most people wouldn’t think first of Illinois as a great wine-producing state, as it happens, the Land of Lincoln is home to more than 125 vineyards and wineries. In fact, as Orban notes, the wine culture here is more than a century old, really taking hold in the early twenty-first century, although its roots were laid in the eighteenth century. Before Prohibition all but destroyed the wine culture (not just in Illinois, but across the Orban Wineriescountry), Illinois was the fourth largest wine-producing state in the Union. Today, Illinois’s wineries and vineyards represent a $253 million industry.

Orban, a professor of French and Italian and a certified sommelier, shares an easily digestible history of Illinois’s wine-producing roots in this handy guide. In addition to tackling the history of wine and vineyards in Illinois, Orban explains the basics of wine production as well as information about bottles, stoppers, and labels. She also dives into issues relating to purchasing, storing, and tasting wine, and she discusses more than two dozen varieties of Illinois grapes. Readers also will find suggestions for food and wine pairings in these pages, and a glossary and index help round-out the information. In these five short chapters, Orban covers a vast topic in an accessible way, providing something for wine novices, enthusiasts, and experts alike.

The bulk of the book—about 75 percent—is dedicated to profiles of various Illinois wineries and vineyards. This section is arranged by region, with the state divided into four sections: northern, central, south central, and southern. Roughly a hundred wineries and vineyards are profiled, with each profile providing such information as a brief history of the venue, information about the owners, details about grapes and wines available, and contact information and directions.

Illinois Wines & Wineries is more informative than evaluative; Orban presents the information in a rather matter-of-fact way with little in the way of editorializing. Readers won’t find insight in these pages about her favorite wines or vineyards. Rather, the guide presents details in an objective manner, providing readers with an easy-to-understand handbook to touring Illinois wine country from north to south.

That’s not to say that Illinois Wines & Wineries is dull or flat. To the contrary, Orban has packed this manageable volume with interesting details about grape varieties, wineries, vineyards, soil, owners, and on and on. In the many concise profiles, readers will learn details such as the fact that City Winery in Chicago was the first operational winery within city limits. They’ll learn that Lynfred Winery, headquartered in Roselle, is the oldest continually operating winery in Illinois. And, they’ll learn that Baxter’s Vineyard in Nauvoo was the first winery in the state, having been established in 1857.

Although one certainly could read Illinois Wines & Wineries from cover to cover in one sitting, this is a guide meant to be referred to time and time again. Wine enthusiasts who enjoy visiting wineries and vineyards can easily use the guide to plan routes for day trips or weekends. Those who are looking for longer trips will find the regional sections and accompanying maps useful for planning wine-oriented vacations.

With the locovore movement gaining more and more traction seemingly every day, foodies might well think about drinking local as well. In Illinois Wines & Wineries, Orban provides readers with a wealth of information about local wines that can grace their tables at home as well as those that can be found in restaurants and wine shops across the state.

Packed with about 150 color photographs, the guide is as pretty to thumb through as it is easy to read. Orban has in Illinois Wines & Wineries provided readers with a handy guide that should be read, saved, and perhaps even tossed in the glove compartment for easy reference when driving around Illinois in search of a good bottle of wine.

Four-Star Review

June 2014, SIU Press
Local Interest
$22.95, paperback, 204 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8093-3344-8

—Reviewed by Kelli Christiansen

Learn more about the book.
Learn more about the author.

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.”
—Benjamin Franklin

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