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New York Street and the Fox River, City of Aurora


Plans for the original Aurora terminal called for the station being located in downtown Aurora in a storefront on Broadway, the main north-south thoroughfare in downtown Aurora. Trains would enter the city from the north and would use one of the AE&C's few segments of street running, traveling over the tracks of the local streetcar lines. Passengers would purchase tickets in the storefront building and would board the trains as they waited in the street, just like the local streetcars.

But by August 25, 1902, the line had not yet been fully completed to the Aurora terminal. As a stopgap measure, the company set up a temporary terminal to handle passengers. The temporary terminal, like the one planned for service, was situated in a storefront on Broadway and passengers boarded trains in the street. The temporary station, however, was located at Spring Street and Broadway, about three blocks north of the ultimate destination.1 In October the line was finally completed, the trains operated the intended distance south on Broadway, and the permanent terminal opened.1, 2

Then, in June of 1904, several meetings occurred between AE&C management and authorities of the City of Aurora concerning a new terminal for the interurban. The idea proposed had the AE&C eventually operating down Broadway to Main Street [Galena Boulevard] where the trains would turn and head west to the island in the middle of the Fox River. On the island a new terminal would be set up that would handle both interurban trains and the streetcars.


Car 300 and follower are stopped on Broadway at the second Aurora terminal. The two boys are unloading newspapers.

Postcard from the collection of Don Bosan-Bruno

While this plan did not come to pass, a new terminal was set up on the southwest corner of Fox Street [East Downer Place] and Broadway that November. The new location was also used by Joliet, Plainfield & Aurora and the Chicago Aurora & DeKalb interurban lines3 which provided connections to the south and west. Like the previous terminal, the new station was located in a modified storefront and passengers boarded trains in the street. The terminal would remain at this location for the next eleven years.

Hotel Arthur

On September 14, 1915, the Aurora terminal changed location once again. Now it had moved into the Hotel Arthur, a six story building on the northwest corner of Main Street and Broadway. Almost certainly as a result of the fire that destroyed the company offices in Wheaton in 1913, the company offices were also moved into this location, occupying the sixth and part of the fifth floors. The second, third, and fourth floors, as well as the remainder of the fifth floor not being used by the company, were sublet as office suites. Passenger facilities were on the first floor. In addition to the AE&C, the Aurora, Plainfield & Joliet, and the Chicago Aurora & DeKalb lines relocated to the Hotel Arthur as well. In time the building came to be known as the Terminal Building.

420 at Broadway and Benton

Until 1939, cars had their layovers and switched ends at Broadway and Benton, as car 420 is doing in 1935. The Chicago Burlington & Quincy overpass is in the background.

Unknown, C Scholes.

Though connected through a shared station, troubled times were ahead for the traction lines. After defaulting on bond interest payments twice, the Aurora Elgin & Chicago Railroad was forced into involuntary bankruptcy on August 9, 1919 and the Fox River and Third Rail Divisions were split into separate entities to simplify matters for the forthcoming foreclosure sale.

The Third Rail Division reemerged in 1922 by the hand of Dr. Thomas Conway Jr. as the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railroad, a new and stronger railroad, however the situation was not so positive for the other electric lines at the Traction Terminal Building. The year that saw the rebirth of the Third Rail Division also saw the Chicago Aurora & DeKalb enter into its second bankruptcy and, as a result, on January 31, 1923, the Chicago Aurora & DeKalb quit. About a year and a half later, on September 1, 1924, the Aurora, Plainfield & Joliet followed suit.4 The Fox River Division managed to finally exit receivership in 1924 as the Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric, but even corporate reorganization could not truly save the company. In 1925, within a year of exiting receivership, the line from Aurora to Yorkville was abandoned. This would become the first in a string of abandonments that continued into the 1930s. Local streetcar service in Aurora came to an end on November 17, 1935.4 Busses replaced the streetcars in their entirety the next day. This left only the Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric's interurban trains to accompany those of the Chicago Aurora & Elgin at the Traction Terminal Building, but even this would not last long.

Within six months of the abandonment of the local streetcars, the Elgin-Aurora interurban line of the Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric would disappear as well. On Saturday, March 30, 1935, the Fox River interurbans made their last runs.5 As with the streetcars that had preceded them, the next morning the trolleys were replaced by busses.

The demise of the Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric left the Traction Terminal Building bereft of all its traction lines except for the Great Third Rail, and even this would not last. The CA&E moved the terminal out of the Traction Terminal Building that same year and back into a storefront on the southwest corner of Fox and Broadway, virtually the same location the terminal had been moved from twenty years prior.

Off the Streets

Up to this point, street running had characterized the Roarin’ Elgin’s operation in Aurora, yet as early as 1924, during the Conway administration, there had been plans to move the Aurora & Elgin off of the city streets and on to its own private right of way. Work continued under the Insull management who received permission from the Aurora City Council to relocate onto private right of way along the river in 1927.6 In 1930, the CA&E incorporated the Aurora Terminal Railroad Company4, 6 to perform the relocation work, however the onset of the Great Depression and the resulting financial difficulties caused the project to be shelved.

Prior to the Fox River Lines' conversion to busses, the AE&FRE had shared the cost of maintaining the street trackage with the CA&E, but now that the AE&FRE was out of the trolley business the cost of maintenance fell solely on the CA&E. The added maintenance costs spurred the receivers to revive the relocation project and push it through to its completion.

On December 31, 1939, the new terminal opened.7 A single track ran along the east bank of the Fox River to New York Street where a rapid transit style high level platform was situated. A storage track capable of holding several cars was provided north of the station. The canopies over the platform had curved roofs with latticework between the columns, a design first used on the Ravenswood branch of the “L” from Southport to Western. (This design later spread to other parts of the rapid transit system and even to such places as the North Shore Line's Milwaukee Terminal.) Tickets were sold in a storefront building at 56 North Broadway near the northwest corner of New York Street and Broadway. Access to the platform was provided in three ways: a backdoor from the ticket office, crossing a parking lot that was alongside the platform, and taking the walkway from the New York Street bridge that led directly to the south end of the platform.

The removal of Roarin’ Elgin trains from the streets of Aurora effectively brought an end to street running on the CA&E, a feat which remains to have been accomplished by only one of Insull's Big Three interurbans: the North Shore Line continued to operate over the streets of Milwaukee until it ceased operation in 1963, and the South Shore Line continues to operate through the streets of Michigan City to this very day.

The new terminal remained in use until the end of passenger service.


The Aurora terminal platform in the early 1990s. A short time later it was demolished.

Photo by John Cloos

Following the suspension of passenger service and the subsequent abandonment of the railroad, the high-level platform and canopies were left standing and were unused. After sitting in this state for thirty four years, Bob Bennett, an Aurora resident and Midwest Electric Railway Museum member, began making inquiries with city officials regarding moving the canopies to the museum in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. In October 1991, before any arrangements could be made, the platform and canopies were demolished.8


The Traction Terminal Building on November 28, 2008.

Photo by Don Bosan-Bruno

Today nothing remains of the terminal. The Illinois Prairie Path runs through the former location of the riverfront terminal and a stairway leads up to the New York Street bridge over the Fox River, effectively replacing the one that connected the street to the platform.

The Traction Terminal Building still stands, though now it’s identified simply as the “Terminal Building.” The first floor has been completely modernized, though otherwise the building stands looking much as it did when it served as an interurban terminal. Currently it is planned to be converted to condominiums.

Station Timetables


Dec. 31, 1939


Nov. 6, 1942


July 14, 1946


Oct. 29, 1950


Feb. 25, 1952

Additional Photos


Parlor-Buffet car 600 is at the head of a two car train on Broadway in front of the Traction Terminal Building in 1925. This train has just come from Chicago as a limited. A Fox River car is seen heading north on the opposite track while a second Fox River car heads south.

Photo from the collection of Don Ross.


Car 433 and a Pullman sit at the Aurora terminal waiting for the next trip east on April 24, 1957.

Photo by P. Stringham, from the collection of William Raia.


A closer view of the platform and canopies from the former location of the station's track.

Photo by John Cloos


Here we see the underside of the eastern end of the canopy. Though deteriorating, it still holds its light fixtures.

Photo by John Cloos


Another view of the eastern end of the canopy and what remained of the platform. While in service, the structure of platform became wood at this point and continued futher east.

Photo by John Cloos


A view of the canopy from the back, that is, opposite track-side. Formerly a stairway led up from the canopy to the bridge seen in the background.

Photo by John Cloos


A close up of the underside of the end of the canopy. The deterioration is obvious here, as the hole and the rusting structure show. The design of the canopy can still be seen today on the platforms of the stations on the Ravenswood branch of the "L" where it was used first.

Photo by John Cloos


  1. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 197
  2. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 203
  3. Development of the Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railroad.” Electric Railway Journal 5 Aug. 1911: 224. Print. <via>
  4. "Off Broadway." First & Fastest Vol. 25, No. 2 (summer 2009) pg. 38
  5. "Transportation Progresses." Aurora Beacon-News 29 Mar. 1935.
  6. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 343
  7. "Aurora Interurban Trains Begin New Routing Monday." Chicago Daily Tribune 28 Dec. 1939: 13. Print.
  8. Weller and Stark, Living Legacy 210