In August 1931, preparatory work began for the Union Station power plant building, which stands today 301 W. Taylor Street. Any traveler who has crossed the lengthy Roosevelt Boulevard viaduct south of the Loop has seen this massive Art Deco edifice (and more than a few have, no doubt, been reminded of a particular Pink Floyd album cover, as the power station is of the same architectural style as London’s Battersea Power Station.)
The Union Station plant was built to provide power not only to the train station but also to the new (now old) Post Office, both owned by the Chicago Union Station Company. It was advertised as a “smokeless” power plant, using newly refined techniques to burn coal with a reduced ash output.
Architects were Graham, Anderson, Probst and White. Construction of the new power plant was urged along, as its predecessor occupied the future site of the new Post Office, which in turn could not be started until the old power plant was replaced and demolished.
The plant was still operating in 1980 when the company received notice from the city boiler inspections department that it must replace the four boilers. The work was apparently carried out, because the plant was still providing power and steam to local buildings into the 1990s, and – despite its forebidding appearance – still shows some signs of life today.