The 43rd station is seen looking east on September 3, 2006. The simple, utilitarian tan brick station house is visible under the elevated structure on the left, with the stainless steel-clad elevator towers added in the 1994-96 Green Line renovation looming overhead. The auxiliary exit stairs from the southbound platform are visible on the right. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

43rd (4300S/300E)
43rd Street and Prairie Avenue, Grand Boulevard

Service Notes:

Green Line: South Side Elevated

Accessible Station

Quick Facts:

Address: 314 E. 43rd Street
Established: August 15, 1892
Original Line: South Side Rapid Transit
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:

Station

Rebuilt: 1976
(new station house), 1990 (new platforms), 1996 (elevators added, overall rehabilitation)
Status: In Use

History:

The original 43rd station house is seen on August 8, 1957. Still largely in its original condition, the station, with its polychromatic brickwork and front bay, was typical of the South Side Elevated stations designed by Myron Church. The doorway in the front bay was a later modification. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from Graham Garfield Collection)

43rd Street station was built as part of the South Side Rapid Transit's extension to the Columbian Exposition in 1892. The original station building was a grade-level structure that resembled other stations built as part of the extension, such as the building still at Garfield and those now removed from Indiana, 51st, 58th, and 61st.

Designed by architect Myron H. Church and built by the Rapid Transit and Bridge Construction Company (under general contractor Alfred Walcott and engineer R.I. Sloan), the station house was designed with a Queen Anne-style influence. The building was constructed of brick with stone sills and foundation with polychrome brickwork along the top of the exterior in a latticed diamond pattern. Perhaps the building's most prominent feature was the bay that projected from the front elevation, with its broad half-cone roof. The building's bay and brick frieze display many qualities of the Queen Anne style, although the flat terra-cotta cornice and other elements show some examples of early Chicago School of architecture.

The dual side platforms, which were end-loaded at their north end, consisted of a wooden deck on a steel structure. The original canopies were humped-shaped, typical of the original South Side Rapid Transit designs, but were replaced early on with short canopies of steel posts supporting a flat tin roof.

In March 1959, auxiliary exit stairs were added to the 43rd station, leading down from each side platform to the south side of 43rd Street, across from the station house. In addition, the stairs to the northbound platform also served as an auxiliary entrance, during Monday-Friday rush hours only, with an agent's booth located at the top of the stairs. The auxiliary stairs were installed as part of the larger effort to improve passenger facilities and circulation at three South Side stations -- similar auxiliary stairs were installed at 47th and Indiana's station house was refurbished -- and to improve the appearance, alleviate congestion, and speed boarding and alighting at 43rd station, which was very busy during peak times. In addition to the new stairways, a 48-foot extension of the southbound canopy, which would protect the full width of this platform, was installed. These improvements at 43rd cost a total of $22,000. The auxiliary stairs to the northbound platform continued to function as a rush hour entrance until January 13, 1973, when it was closed as a result of service cuts. Both remained as auxiliary exits, however.

 

Station Reconstruction, Piece By Piece

The new, open-air 43rd station entrance is seen looking northwest in 1976 after being reconstructed. The concession stand, under the "43rd" super-graphic, is not yet occupied at this point. For a larger view, click here. (CTA Photo)

On April 1, 1974, the 43rd station house was destroyed by fire. The station entrance was temporarily replaced by fare controls on the auxiliary stairs across the street from the main entrance. The booth on the northbound side, only recently deactivated the year before, was put back in service and a temporary booth was installed at the top of the auxiliary stairs on the southbound platform as well.

Work began quickly on rebuilding the main entrance. In June 1976, the newly rebuilt station entrance opened at street-level and the temporary platform booths were closed. The new station house was simple, with tan brick exterior side and rear walls. The station had no front facade, instead being fully open to the street. Certain aspects of the station were very "modern" in the 1970s sense of the word, with a large circular porthole on the east wall of the unpaid area and "43rd street" written in oversized "super-graphics" on the interior of the west elevation. The station facility included a dual-position agent's booth (initially staffed 24 hours a day), a couple coin/token turnstiles, a concession stand, and a custodian's closet.

The new station house stood in contrast to the original 1892 platforms for several years. It was initially planned to replace the platforms in 1986, but the project for further delayed for a few years, in part because initial bids from contractors came in over-budget.

Work began on the platform replacement project began in Spring 1990. In order to complete the work quickly and efficiently, it was determined that the station would be closed and single-track operations would be instituted through the project area. To lessen the impact on passengers as much as possible, neighboring Indiana station was temporarily changed from an "A" station to an "AB" station, agent coverage at Indiana was increased to 24 hours a day, and #43 43rd buses were rerouted to serve the station.

43rd station closed at 7am on March 18, 1990 to allow work to commence. The new station platforms included new wood decking, a new full-width steel canopy over the north half, sodium vapor lights on the south half, and new steel railings along the length of the platform. The canopy had a slight peak to it, but only the portions over the platforms and part of the tracks was actually covered. The center of the canopy, between the tracks, was open. Sign brackets were integrated into the railings. The auxiliary exit stairs from the platforms to the south side of 43rd Street remained. The station house was not altered as part of the platform project.

43rd station reopened at 10am on Monday, May 21, 1990, following the completion of the platform and canopy renewal project, about a month before the original projected reopening date. At that time, the normal stopping pattern was resumed at 43rd and Indiana stations and the #43 bus returned to its regular route.

 

Green Line Renovation

The 43rd station platforms are seen looking north on September 3, 2006. The platforms remain largely as they were rebuilt in 1990. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

On February 21, 1993, the South Side Englewood-Jackson Park service, formerly paired with the Howard service and forming the North-South Route, was repaired with the Lake Street service and formed the CTA's new Green Line.

On January 9, 1994, the Green Line closed for a two-year rehabilitation. All stations on the line, including 43rd, closed for renovation.

Because the station was rebuilt within the previous 15 years, only modest work was needed on the station during the rehabilitation. The station house's basic structure remained, but was significantly redressed and rearranged. The concession stand and existing interior walls were removed. The porthole on the east elevation was sealed and a series of rooms were constructed along the east side of the interior, including a custodian's room and the new Customer Assistant's booth, whose windows project out in a glass and steel bay. The platforms and canopy were largely left as-is, having been rebuilt just four years previous, but twin elevators were added to make both platforms accessible. An overhead transfer bridge connects the elevators above platform level, with stairs connecting down to the platforms. The station also received new signage, windbreaks, and heaters.

The Green Line and 43rd station reopened on May 12, 1996, but like many other stations the work at 43rd was actually not quite complete yet. The refurbished fare control area was not yet complete on opening day, so entrance to the station was temporarily through the auxiliary exit stairs on the south side of 43rd Street. Southbound, there was a partial-service entrance with turnstiles that only accepted coins, tokens, and monthly passes for full fare riders. Final completion of the station's rehab, including activation of the new elevators, did not come for a few months after the line reopened. The berthing markers were not moved to their permanent locations until February 27, 1997. The permanent station entrance and overhead bridge at 43rd opened during Spring 1997.

 

The North-South Route (Temporary) Returns

In 2013, the CTA launched the Red Line South Reconstruction Project, a track renewal project to rebuild the Dan Ryan branch tracks from the bottom up, excavating down to the bottom of the trackbed to rebuild the underground drainage system then installing new ballast, ties, and tracks. Some modest station improvements were also performed. In order to perform the work more quickly and cost-effectively, the CTA closed the Dan Ryan branch for five months while work was performed. During that time, there would be no 'L' service on the Dan Ryan branch south of Roosevelt station.

As part of the alternate service plan for Dan Ryan riders, Red Line trains were rerouted via the old 13th Street Incline from the State Street Subway to the South Side Elevated, where they operated to Ashland/63rd via the South Side Elevated tracks in a pattern reminiscent of the old Howard-Englewood "A" trains of the North-South Route days. Harlem-Cottage Grove Green Line trains continued to operate as well, but due to limited track capacity some Green Line trains from Harlem that would've gone to Ashland/63rd were turned back to Harlem downtown during the weekday rush periods (at Roosevelt in the morning rush and via the Outer Loop in the evening rush).

Red Line service to Ashland/63rd began on Sunday, May 19, 2013. Following the five-month track reconstruction and renovation work on the Dan Ryan, Red Line service to 95th resumed at 4am, Sunday, October 20, 2013. At the same time, Red Line service via the South Side Elevated and Englewood branch was annulled and Green Line trains resumed service to Ashland/63rd, alternating between the two 63rd Street terminal branches.

 

The 43rd station is seen looking south on July 18, 2006. The platforms, canopy, and stairs down to the station house seen in this view date from 1990. The elevator towers and overhead bridge were added in the 1994-96 Green Line renovation. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)


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This postcard from circa 1908 shows 43rd Street looking east from Prairie Avenue. The "L" station is visible in the background. (Postcard from the Graham Garfield Collection)

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The simple brick station house and the fare controls and Customer Assistant booth of the 43rd stop is seen looking north in January 1998. (Photo by Linda Garfield)

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A view of the 43rd station complex. The entrance is in the lower left corner. The elevator tower to the southbound platform is visible in the upper left corner, with the white-painted steel platform and stairs up to the overhead bridge are visible across the center. (Photo by Linda Garfield)

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The simple 43rd station house is seen looking northeast on September 3, 2006 as a CTA® rail janitor cleans in front of the station. The station entrance sign was replaced about a year before with one of a newer style which lists the station name and route name, rather than the route name and destinations (seen here). (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The 43rd station platforms are seen looking north on September 3, 2006. Note that the center of the canopy is open. The windbreaks are unusually shallow to accommodate the narrow platforms. (Photo by Graham Garfield)