Chicago and North Western Railway Power House

Just beyond Ogilvie Station, which was originally named North Western Station, in the West Loop of Chicago exists a smokestacked building that seems to be lost in time amidst the development of the area, and that is the old C&NW Power House, which once powered the eponymous station immediately to its south. 

The smokestack is at the end of the building and really jettisons out, making it difficult to photograph all in one picture! (FRRandP Photo, June 2021)

First constructed in 1909 and completed two years later, the building was used to power North Western Station, where the Chicago & Northwestern Railway trains terminated in Chicago. 

Looking at the building along Clinton St, with skyscrapers visible from the Loop east of the Chicago River. (FRRandP Photo, June 2021)

It is the last remnant of the North Western Station, which was demolished in 1984 and reconstructed as Ogilvie Station, which it remains today. "In 1911, Frost and Granger designed a new large passenger terminal [North Western Station] for the company to replace the Wells Street Station." (City of Chicago)

Chicago & North Western Terminal, c.1912

The ironic thing is that the powerhouse had been defunct for about twenty years when the station was demolished, and yet it was one of the few pieces of the old station to survive.

North Western Station demolition, 1984, to be replaced by Ogilvie Station and 500 W Madison St. Robert Daly photo.

You can see the entire complex as it stands in the present day from the photo below, which was taken from the 32nd floor of the-then Citigroup Center.

You can see the smokestack in the top of this photo, which was taken from 500 W Madison St, which lies adjacent to Ogilvie Station. (FRRandP photo, 2013)

By the 1960's, the power house was no longer used to supply electricity to the station, but the building remained standing.
Historic CNW photo of a steam engine leaving North Western Station. Note the bridge along which is now part of CTA's Green Line.

Looking from the far end of Ogilvie Station, there's even an opening that appears to have once been used to bring coal into the powerhouse, but now is no longer connected. (FRRandP photo, 2021)

The building is a good example of reusing redundant infrastructure, as it is a historical building, but has been retrofitted into office and retail space. According to Structured Development, "Structured Development redeveloped the property into three interior levels of office and retail space with tenants including New Line Tavern, Body Gears Physical Therapy, and Wight & Co. The Powerhouse is a designated City of Chicago Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places."

New Line Tavern at Clinton/Lake at the south end of the former powerhouse building.

Structured Development photo of the redeveloped interior.

The smokestack is beautifully lit at night.

Thanks as always for reading!


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