Although the entire post is a good read, a specific section stuck out in our mind because it's something that has always perplexed us. The Metra entrance at the corner of Van Burren and Michigan looks like it's straight up out of an amusement park. It's on the boundary of the sloop and every time we go by it we stop a scratch our heads. It doesn't fit in with the setting and it's always been a mystery as to why this stop is different then all the other ones.
Anyway, thanks to this post, we have a little more background as to why this stop is the way it is:
Looking elsewhere, of course, the place to look for iconic subway entrances is Paris with its Hector Guimard designed metro entrances. They define the word classic in this space:So the mystery is solved! This out of place Metra stop was actually a replica gift given from Paris to Chicago.
These work in Paris not just because they are excellent designs but because, in a very real way, the embody the essence of Paris. They capture its romance and history. To walk past one of these is to be transported back to the Belle Epoque. Sundered from its native setting, these could easily end up looking cheesy.
I really hate to admit this, but Chicago actually has a clone of this on its Metra system. Here's the entrance to an underpass at Van Buren St. Station:
Paris gives out replicas of these to cities around the world, and I believe this was one such gift. Even so, this is the sort of thing that would, if done in say Cleveland, make a Chicagoan snicker.