Joliet, IL (JOL)
Joliet Gateway Center opened in spring 2018 and includes a new train station served by Amtrak and Metra. Historic Union Station, opened in 1912, stands across the tracks and is now an events space.
Joliet Gateway Center
90 E. Jefferson St.
Joliet, IL 60432
Annual Station Ridership (FY 2021): 28,348
- Facility Ownership: City of Joliet
- Parking Lot Ownership: City of Joliet
- Platform Ownership: City of Joliet
- Track Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
In April 2018, Amtrak moved into a new train station designed as part of the Joliet Gateway Center. The larger complex includes the historic Joliet Union Station – now used for events and retail; the new train station – occupied by Amtrak and Metra; a planned bus station; and new rail platforms, pedestrian tunnels, elevators and parking.
Gateway Center is located at the crossing of BNSF and Union Pacific (UP) rail lines used by Amtrak, Metra and freight trains. The new train station sits to the northeast, the historic station to the northwest and the future bus station will be in the southwest corner.
The city of Joliet unveiled plans for the Gateway Center in March 2010, with a vision of uniting the services of Amtrak, Metra, PACE local buses, intercity passenger buses, Chicago airport shuttles and taxis in one easily accessible downtown location. Streetscaping and improvements to local roads would enhance pedestrian and bicycle access. A groundbreaking for the city-led Gateway Center project was held in 2012.
Rail customers now enjoy a two-story, 10,300 square foot structure with waiting areas and ticket desks for Amtrak and Metra. Designed by the team of RATIO | Knight, the new station is built of precast concrete and pays homage to historic Union Station in its form and materials. Like Union Station, the walls are clad in a buff colored limestone; in the former, large, smooth-faced ashlar blocks are laid in formal courses, but the new building incorporates rock-faced ashlar stone in a random pattern. Dressed limestone is used for stylized pilasters that break up the massing of the building into rhythmic bays, window sills, coping and trim at the entryways.
Two-story archways at the station’s northeast corner, which provide a gracious transition between a covered entryway and a welcoming pedestrian plaza, play off the towering round arch windows of old Union Station. Generous use of glass allows natural light to brighten the station interior, which includes a full height lobby.
Metra’s Rock Island District and Heritage Corridor trains operate via different routes between Joliet and Chicago. At Gateway Center, they use separate platforms that were rebuilt as part of the larger project. The new platforms increase passenger safety and convenience by eliminating the need for rail customers to access them by crossing active freight lines. BNSF also benefited since the associated track realignment means its freight trains no longer have to pause outside of the station while passenger trains are stopped at the platforms. Through careful coordination and scheduling among all stakeholders, the busy BNSF and UP lines remained active throughout the construction period.
Once additional funding is identified, the city plans to move forward with construction of the bus station and bus turn around area on the south side of the rail crossing.
Ultimately, Joliet views the Gateway Center as a catalyst for the renewal of the downtown core. Transit-oriented development on nearby parcels could foster a lively district in which residents can live, shop and play without the need for an automobile. Within easy walking distance of Gateway Center are the Joliet Slammers’ baseball stadium, Rialto Square Theatre and the Will County Courthouse.
Through early 2018, the Gateway Center project cost an estimated $51 million, with funding provided by various stakeholders, including the city. In 2010, Joliet received $32 million towards the project from “Illinois Jobs Now!”, a six-year, $31 billion statewide capital program supported by 20-year state bonds and federal and local matching funds.
The new Joliet station is also a component of the Illinois High-Speed Rail Program. Under the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program, the state received $1.2 billion to improve the vital Chicago-St. Louis rail corridor and allow faster travel times. The upgraded line is expected to present a strong transportation alternative for drivers along the congested Interstate 55 corridor.
Anchoring Gateway Center is historic Joliet Union Station, designed by architect Jarvis Hunt and built in 1912 by the Adam Groth Company. A leader of the City Beautiful movement, Hunt designed many important buildings across the United States in the early 20th century, including union stations in Kansas City and Dallas.
By 1885 Joliet was served by four trunk lines: the Chicago, Rock Island, & Pacific; Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe; Chicago & Alton; and Michigan Central – all of which maintained their own depots. Together, the railroads responded to city demands in the 1910s to cut down on congestion by separating railroad and vehicular traffic through downtown. The $3 million effort to elevate the tracks gained national attention and led to construction of a spacious new “union” station that could accommodate the needs of the four railroads. The site chosen was in the approximate area of the 1854 Rock Island depot.
Hunt’s design for Union Station included a center block wedged in the corner where the two rail lines crossed, with two lower wings extending north and west. Altogether, these elements defined a carriage court in front of the building. Neoclassical detailing includes two sets of three tall, round arch windows in the central waiting room – looking out to the carriage court and the tracks – as well as a balustrade at the roofline.
Built with a modern steel frame, the station cost $250,000. While the exterior is clad in Bedford limestone, the interior features Tennessee marble and tile finishes and bronze fixtures. As built, the ticket lobby was located at street level, and the main waiting room was one floor above at track level. Passengers could arrive by foot, motor vehicle or via numerous streetcar lines.
Union Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The city and METRA purchased the station in 1987 and then undertook an extensive rehabilitation that was completed in 1991. Amtrak was located in Union Station until 2014, when it moved to a temporary facility a few blocks north during construction of the Gateway Center. Amtrak began regular passenger operations from the new Joliet train station on April 11, 2018.
Train service to Joliet began in 1852 under the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad. It is the site of the old Rock Island Diamond and sits at the junction of the former Rock Island Line and Alton Railroad main lines. The Elgin, Joliet & Eastern also had a major car and maintenance shop in town. Today, with opportunities to view Metra, Amtrak and freight trains, the Gateway Center is a popular stopping place for railroad enthusiasts.
The first non-native settlers came to the area in 1833-1834 following the Black Hawk War, settling along the Des Plaines River. James B. Campbell, treasurer of the Illinois & Michigan Canal Commission, laid out the village of Juliet there, which name the local settlers had been using before his arrival. Juliet incorporated as a village in 1837 but soon reversed course to lift a tax burden during a depression that year.
Residents changed the name to “Joliet” in 1845, and the city reincorporated in 1852. It is speculated that the name was taken from one of the first European explorers to visit the region, Louis Jolliet, who came up the Des Plaines River in 1673 and camped on the clay mound of what became known as Mound Jolliet. Extensive excavation of that resource eventually eroded the mound, and that location was later settled as Rockdale.
Joliet depended on manufacturing in the 20th century, but also benefitted as an easily accessible suburb of growing Chicago; over the decades, it evolved from a steel town to an exurb of the Windy City. The city center has been undergoing revitalization in recent years. Local landmarks include the Joliet Area Historical Museum and Route 66 Visitors Center. The alternate route section of US 66, from Wilmington to Joliet, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. This roadbed, passing through largely agricultural lands, had periods of construction both in 1926 and 1945.
Joliet Prison (Joliet Correctional Center) was in use between 1858 and 2002, and was built with limestone quarried on the site, using convict labor. The prison was the main execution site in Illinois. It has been darkly remembered in poetry—in the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters; in song, in recordings by Memphis Minnie and Bob Dylan; and in many films.
The Rialto Square Theatre near the Gateway Center was a favored haunt of Al Capone. There are, furthermore, two riverboat casinos in Joliet—which spans both the Des Plaines and DuPage Rivers—making Joliet the only city in the state to have two casinos downtown. Chicagoland Speedway is in Joliet as well, hosting annual events from NASCAR and the Indy Racing League.
The Lincoln Service is financed primarily through funds made available by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Station Building (with waiting room)
- ATM not available
- No payphones
- No Quik-Trak kiosks
- Ticket sales office
- Unaccompanied child travel allowed
- No vending machines
- No WiFi
- Arrive at least 45 minutes prior to departure if you're checking baggage or need ticketing/passenger assistance
- Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure if you're not checking baggage or don't need assistance
- Amtrak Express shipping not available
- Checked baggage service available
- No checked baggage storage
- Bike boxes not available
- Baggage carts available
- Ski bags not available
- No bag storage
- Shipping Boxes for sale
- Baggage assistance provided by Only one agent on duty, limited assistance is available.
- Same-day parking is available; fees may apply
- Overnight parking is available; fees may apply
- No payphones
- Accessible platform
- No accessible restrooms
- No accessible ticket office
- No accessible waiting room
- No accessible water fountain
- Same-day, accessible parking is available; fees may apply
- Overnight, accessible parking is available; fees may apply
- No high platform
- Wheelchair available
- Wheelchair lift available
Station Waiting Room Hours
|Mon||07:15 am - 11:00 pm|
|Tue||07:15 am - 11:00 pm|
|Wed||07:15 am - 11:00 pm|
|Thu||07:15 am - 11:00 pm|
|Fri||07:15 am - 11:00 pm|
|Sat||07:15 am - 11:00 pm|
|Sun||07:15 am - 11:00 pm|
Ticket Office Hours
|Mon||07:15 am - 02:50 pm|
|Tue||07:15 am - 02:50 pm|
|Wed||07:15 am - 02:50 pm|
|Thu||07:15 am - 02:50 pm|
|Fri||07:15 am - 02:50 pm|
|Sat||07:15 am - 02:50 pm|
|Sun||07:15 am - 02:50 pm|
Passenger Assistance Hours
|Mon||07:15 am - 03:00 pm|
|Tue||07:15 am - 03:00 pm|
|Wed||07:15 am - 03:00 pm|
|Thu||07:15 am - 03:00 pm|
|Fri||07:15 am - 03:00 pm|
|Sat||07:15 am - 03:00 pm|
|Sun||07:15 am - 03:00 pm|