The simple brick entrance of the 47th station is seen here looking northeast on August 13. 2004. Except for a new Customer Assistant's booth, fare controls, a few other modest changes, the station is largely as it was rebuilt in 1982. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

47th (4700S/300E)
47th Street and Prairie Avenue, Grand Boulevard

Service Notes:

Green Line: South Side Elevated

Accessible Station

Quick Facts:

Address: 314 E. 47th Street
Established: August 15, 1892
Original Line: South Side Rapid Transit
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:

Station

Rebuilt: 1982, 1996
(rehab of existing station, elevators added)
Status: In Use

History:

47th 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 is 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 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 July 1959, auxiliary exit stairs were added to the 47th station, leading down from each side platform to the south side of 47th 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 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. It remained as an auxiliary exit, however.

A view of the southbound platform of 47th Street on the North-South Route. The $1 million rehab included upgrading of both platform with new white steel railings, sodium vapor lights, and new A/B station signage. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the CTA Transit News)

In the early 1980s it was decided that 47th station needed to be replaced. At a cost of over $1 million, the station was to received a new platform and canopy and a new station house. In July 1981, the station house was closed for demolition, as was the southbound platform. Entrance to the northbound platform was through the auxiliary stairs on the south side of the street and a temporary agent's booth was placed at the top of these stairs on the platform. In December the new southbound platform opened and the northbound side closed for reconstruction. Likewise, the temporary agent's position was moved to the top of the auxiliary stairs on the southbound platform.

On Friday, May 7, 1982, the new northbound platform opened, as did the new fare control building. Unlike the enclosed building of the original 1892 station house, the new fare control building was a much simpler, utilitarian structure and had an open front with no doors or windows. Inside was an agent's booth and fare control array, along with some other modest amenities including a concession stand. The new station had fluorescent lighting throughout and the station entrance fed the platforms north end. The new platforms had wood decking and included a full-width steel canopy over the north half, sodium vapor lights on the south half, and rectilinear steel tube railings along the length of the platform. Sign brackets were integrated into the railing and lightpost design, including "Rush Hour Stop" signs on brackets that are designed as an integrated part of and project horizontally from the sodium vapor lights. The auxiliary exit stairs from the platforms to the south side of 47th Street remained. The station was formally opened by Mayor Jane Byrne, who unveiled a plaque dedicating the station to Roy Wilkins, former executive director of the NAACP.

 

Green Line Renovation

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 47th, closed for renovation.

Before the 1994-96 Green Line rehabilitation, the CTA considered permanently closing 47th, along with Indiana, 35th, Garfield and others, but reconsidered and instead upgraded the station during the rehab.

Because the station was rebuilt in 1982, only modest work was needed on the station during the rehabilitation. The station was cleaned and repainted and a new Customer Assistant's booth was installed. New signage was installed throughout the facility as well. Perhaps the most significant modification to the station was the addition of elevators, one to each platform, making the station ADA accessible.

The Green Line and 47th station reopened on May 12, 1996, but like many other stations the work at 47th 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 47th Street. 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 2, 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 47th Street station, looking north from a Green Line train on May 6, 2001. The platforms, which were rebuilt in 1982, are fairly typical modern CTA design, but have some unusual features, such as the "Rush Hour Stop" signs projecting horizontally from the light posts (they are usually hung under canopies or from their own curved poles). (Photo by Graham Garfield)


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A 47th Street symbol sign, from before 1993. (Sign from the collection of Graham Garfield)

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The 47th station is seen here looking west along 47th Street from Calumet Avenue on August 13, 2004. The platform infrastructure dates from the 1982 reconstruction. Note the auxiliary exit stairs from the inbound platform to the south side of 47th Street. The streetscape was remodeled circa 2002 with new street lights, paving stones, and street furniture, with signs that dub the street the "Blues District", paying homage to the area's musical heritage. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Most of the elements on the 47th station platform, seen here looking north on August 13, 2004 -- the canopy, the railings, the platform lights -- date from the station's 1982 reconstruction. The station signage, A/V signs, and wood decking were replaced in the 1996 rehab. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The canopy at the north end of the 47th platforms is full width, but has an opening down the center between the tracks, where weather protection is unnecessary, to allow in natural light. This view looks north on the outbound platform on August 13, 2004. Note the auxiliary exit on the right and the end-loaded stairs and elevator access at the ends of the platforms in the distance. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

BluesBros-RaysMusic01.jpg (155k)
This view of 47th Street looking east from Prairie Avenue may be familiar to movie fans: it's the location of the street-dancing scene, to the tune of "Shake A Tail Feather", in front of Ray's Music Exchange. The station has been reconstructed since the movie was filmed and other aspects of the street have changed, but the building on the corner clearly identifies this August 13, 2004 view as the same location. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

BluesBros-RaysMusic02.jpg (154k)
The exterior scenes in front of Ray's Music Exchange were shot on the corner of 47th and Prairie, with Ray Charles' store actually being the Palace Loan Company, located at 300 E. 47th Street. Today it's Shelly's Loan Company, but is clearly the same building. Even the mural along the side elevation is still intact in this August 13, 2004 view! (Photo by Graham Garfield)