Chi-Town Union Station is a modified walk-around exhibition layout. Once the visitor enters the four to seven foot wide viewing aisle, tracks and trains surround the viewer. Tables are to the left and right, knee high, waist high, shoulder high, and higher carrying tracks from nine foot overhead down to and beneath the aisle floors.
The sight lines across the huge room are broken by a free-form, 90-foot oval cyclorama painted with mountainous rural landscaping on one long side and the 1950s Chicago sky line in perspective on the other. The cyclorama encloses a tower which is interlaced with tunnels and trackage but also houses power rooms, computer facilities, maintenance benches, break room, staff egress to all areas of the layout, and on the upper level, the main control room.
To date, approximately 90% of the layout is landscaped to a reasonable level. Another ten years of work lies ahead before this work in progress will be finished.
The layout already fills about 95% of the building with 11,000 ft. (of 12,000 ft. planned) of track in place, much of it hand laid, and layered as many as six layers deep in numerous places. Two hidden helixes, one with more than 900 degrees of turn are used to abruptly change elevation of entire trains.
The Chi-Town Union Station's 700 feet of 12 parallel double-ended tracks and its complex throats at either end are strongly reminiscent of the Chicago Union Station.