Thursday, December 1, 2011

A little landmark

On a jaunt down to Hyde Park last month, I grabbed this cellphone photo of the oldest extant L station in Chicago, built in 1892. From the Landmark plaque visible at the left of the building:

Built as part of Chicago's original elevated line connecting downtown with the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park, this is one of the oldest surviving mass transit stations in the United States and is the last surviving example of the City's original "bow-fronted," Arts-and-Crafts-styled street-level stationhouses. The station and its accompanying ornamental street overpass spanning Garfield Boulevard also represent a rare example of graceful transit design intended to relate to the City's famed park boulevard system.

As you can see from the quite ungraceful roller doors on both sides of the canopy, this station has served a very different purpose from what it was intended for a number of years. Those hideous doors and numerous coats of paint can't disguise the care of the design that was common in the day when public transit was privately owned and had to compete with other conveyances for riders. Back in the early days of the L, the trains were pulled by noisy, soot belching, steam locomotives and it's not hard to imagine that it took some convincing to get riders to climb aboard those trains some twenty feet up in the sky. For those early riders it must have been an exhilarating, if not harrowing experience.

The station was designed by Myron Church, and was designated a city landmark in 2001, the same year that it was replaced by the new station across Garfield Boulevard. Here is's take on the station.

1 comment:

trains o scale said...

i wish the government could have just refurnished this one as it looks very good as a new trains o scale station.