The entrance to the renovated 87th station is seen looking west on December 24, 2006. Improvements to the entrance include refurbishment of the structure, new paint, a new "storefront" enclosing the entranceway with doors and windows, a new "eyebrow canopy" over the entrance to protect waiting bus passengers, and identification signage. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

87th (8700S/1W)
87th Street and Dan Ryan Expressway, Chatham

Service Notes:

Red Line: Dan Ryan

Accessible Station

Owl Service

Quick Facts:

Address: 15 W. 87th Street
Established: September 28, 1969
Original Line: West-South Route, Dan Ryan branch
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:

Station (1969)

Station (1969-1993)

Rebuilt: 2005-06
(renovation), 2013 (refurbished, elevator added)
Status: In Use


This 1973 view of the 87th station platform looking north shows the station a few years after opening but still in as-built condition. Note the transfer stamp machine in the foreground; the Dan Ryan and Kennedy stations had special machines with a casing designed to harmonize with the stations' modern architecture. For a larger view, click here. (CTA Photo, Graham Garfield Collection)

The design of 87th and the other eight stations of the Dan Ryan line were carried out by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill under the direction of Myron Goldsmith, who developed a modern, functional form in the late International style popular at the time. Improved visibility and security, ease of cleaning and more comfortable working conditions for CTA employee were design goals. Skidmore took the Kennedy-Dan Ryan ("KDR") project in a unique direction, designing all aspects of the new lines to harmonize in both shapes and materials. All windbreaks, dividers, and ticket booths were stainless steel. The supports of the transparent platform canopies and the structures of the station enclosures are white-painted steel frames, and the enclosures themselves are glass. The formal and functional criteria were expressed in several ways: open, uncluttered, brightly lit interior spaces; durability, safety, maximum efficiency of movement; lightness and purity of structure. The shape of everything, from the buildings to the agents' booths, to the trashcans, followed together into a seamless design philosophy, which perfectly captured the boxy, purely functional International Modern style for which Skidmore is so well known.

The commemorative brochure published for the event describes the stations this way:

"Nine stations serve the Dan Ryan Line... Wide visibility and a high level of illumination are characteristic features in all areas. Fare collection equipment and turnstiles are stainless steel and... escalators supplement stairs for movement between station levels. Stations in the expressway medians are constructed of steel and glass providing maximum visibility from adjacent streets and highways. The boarding platforms are long enough to accommodate 8-car trains... Steel framed canopies of translucent plastic [extend] beyond the center line of the tracks. Self-service infrared radiant heaters are located at windbreaks on the platforms."

87th Street has a small fare control area on the north end of the island platform with stairs and an escalator leading to the street. In terms of interior arrangement and design for the passenger, Skidmore generally followed the edict of modernist pioneer Mies van der Rohe that ‚ "less is more." Except for at a few locations (most notably 95th Street terminal), there were no concessions provided for passengers. Air conditioning and a compact washroom with a toilet were provided in the agents' booths. Restrooms were for employees only, though payphones were provided. Stainless steel turnstiles, now an industry standard, were first used here. The amenities and traffic circulation fit with the architectural design of the station: efficient but purely functional. Stations were designed with wide walkways and no blind corners, with turnstiles and agents booths arranged for maximum queuing and circulation effectiveness.

The stations' design even formed a harmony with the 150 rapid transit cars that were ordered to serve the new Kennedy and Dan Ryan lines, which used the same design philosophies and basic shapes, and an entirely new system of signage with a redesigned typeface and clean graphic style (still used by CTA today, in a modified form), making a fully integrated design throughout the entire project.

Stations were spaced at between half-mile and one-mile intervals, reflecting an increasing spacing of stations prominent in the postwar period, with bus lines acting as feeders to the rapid transit line. The Dan Ryan and Kennedy stations were also set up to allow Pay On Train operation, though without all of the complicated gates and rearrangement built into the Congress stations. The translucent skin of the headhouse exteriors made this type of operation more safe than before, though not necessarily making it more aesthetically desirable for the customer. The result was a utilitarian white steel and glass station that is functional but not particularly ornate.


Dan Ryan Red Line Rehabilitation Project

With few major improvements (though with a lot of patching) over its thirty year life, by the early 21st century the Dan Ryan Line was in need of a major overhaul. On April 3, 2003, the Chicago Transit Board approved a $4.5 million contract to renovate the 69th and 95/Dan Ryan bus bridges as well as the bus turnaround at 95th Street, signaling the beginning of the rehabilitation of the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line. The Dan Ryan renovation project entailed upgrading the infrastructure of the line, including improving power reliability and delivery of that power, and providing station improvements to the seven stations on the branch north of the terminal.

Renovation work underway, the original terrazzo flooring has been removed in this view looking south at 87th on September 1, 2005. The contractor has used orange spray paint to identify area for customers to be careful during construction. The old station name signs from the original, removed windbreaks have been hung from the canopy with steel cables to provide temporary station identification during construction. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

On October 7, 2003, the Chicago Transit Board approved a $192.5 million contract to rehabilitate the Dan Ryan branch, with Kiewit/Reyes, AJV (A Joint Venture) awarded the construction contract as part of a competitive bid process. The total cost of the Dan Ryan rehabilitation program was to be $282.6 million.

The project was executed in three phases. During the first phase of the project, which extended from March 2004 to May 2005, CTA replaced crossover track, installed a temporary signal system to support the track work and began third rail replacement from Cermak-Chinatown to 95th. As part of Phase II, which ran through early 2006, the CTA constructed two new substations and upgraded two existing substations, installed a permanent signal system and replaced third rail.

Phase III improvements, which began at the end of June 2005, consisted primarily of station renovations. Work at the seven stations located between Sox-35th and 87th included refurbishing platform canopies, architectural components, escalators, the existing station house, and new platform floor finishes, enhanced lighting, new customer assistant kiosks and improved signs. Eight escalators along the branch were replaced and new elevators were installed at 47th and 69th, making those stations accessible to customers with disabilities. There were also enhancements to improve bus connections, such as curb cuts, canopies over station entrances and improved lighting on the approach to each station. At 87th, a new station entrance was added on the north side of 87th Street.

87th station remained open throughout the renovation project. Much of the work was done under single track operations during midday, owl, and other off-peak hours to allow contractors Kiewit/Reyes, Aldridge Electric, and others to undertake renovation work. On many days, it was also common for half of the platform at a time to be taken out of service at certain stations during owl hours to provide unobstructed access to the contractors. During some periods, trains in excess of four cars in length were prohibited from stopping at certain stations also to provide contractor access.

Preparatory work began in June 2005 and continued in August as Kiewit began removing the old plexiglas canopy roof "bubbles" so that the canopy structure could be refurbished, leaving the canopy structural framework but little actual protection except for small a area the platform where a tarpaulin had been stretched over a small portion of the canopy to provide a moderate level of protection from inclement weather. By the end of 2005, work was undertaken to refurbish the canopy structure.

Work also began on removing the original terrazzo platform flooring so that the new concrete floor could be installed. By the end of August 2005, all of the terrazzo had been removed, leaving only the rough under-flooring, ready for the installation of the new concrete flooring. The old, original stainless steel windbreaks had also been removed. The station name signs from in the windbreaks were temporarily hung from the canopy using steel cables to provide station identification. The escalator from street-level to the platform had also been removed by this time.

This December 8, 2006 photos shows a myriad of CTA graphics, from left to right: a standard "L" station entrance sign, the decorative art glass in the canopy featuring PCC streetcars, CTA logo station "identifier", and a bus stop sign for the #87 87th bus. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Victor Ramirez)

87th's new concrete platform flooring was completed in mid-September 2005. Bases and supports for new steel windbreaks were set in the new platform flooring; the framework for the new enclosures installed by the end of 2005. In the meantime, temporary wooden windbreaks were installed to provide some shielding from the winter winds. By the end of 2005, the original agents' booth had been removed and the fare controls had been moved to allow work to continue in the fare control area.

Work continued at 87th throughout Spring 2006. The second of two "linecuts" was performed over Memorial Day 2006 weekend, when service was temporarily suspended in both directions between 95th/Dan Ryan and 63rd stations from midnight Friday, May 26 until midday Monday, May 29, with a shuttle bus in between. Work included painting the canopy columns and the station exterior at 87th station and track and tie renewal at several locations, among other things. During the linecut, stations were covered with large tent-like enclosures to protect workers and keep materials and dust contained.

By August 2006, new skylight canopy domes were being installed at all stations from Sox-35th to 87th. Progress was made on the installation of new vertical access elements during summer 2006.

By mid-November 2006, installation of new station platform canopy skylight "bubbles" was substantially complete at all stations. The 87th auxiliary entrance structure was complete, with the stairs and floor decking being installed and the fittings being completed. Installation of the new escalator was completed at 87th. During November, work also continued on the installation of platform amenities at all stations, painting station house exteriors and platforms, installation of new light fixtures on platforms, installation of new lighting and ceilings in station houses, and installation of new signage.

The north side auxiliary entrance to 87th station, open just a few weeks, is seen looking northwest on December 24, 2006. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

At 9am on Monday, December 11, 2006, the new auxiliary entrance to 87th station opened on north side of 87th Street. Similar to how 79th station was modified about 25 years before, the north side entrance allows passengers to access the station without crossing the wide and busy 87th Street and provides an easier transfer to and from westbound #87 87th buses. The entrance is a small enclosure housing stairs and an escalator down to a platform-level passage which leads to the fare controls and platform.

By the end of 2006, the renovation of 87th station was substantially complete with only punchlist work remaining. The finished station included the improvements listed above and, much like the original Kennedy-Dan Ryan project design by Skidmore, introduced several elements now standard at Dan Ryan stations (minus 95th/Dan Ryan and Cermak-Chinatown, which were not part of the project) including a new type of Customer Assistant booth (now also used in the renovated Brown Line stations), windbreak, and combination bench/sandbox. The station house and platform canopy received red bands as part of its new paint scheme, providing some color to the facility's exterior as well as line identification.

The main entrance on the south side of 87th Street received a new white-painted steel "eyebrow canopy" over the front of the station house to protect passengers waiting to transfer to eastbound #87 87th buses. The canopy, a modern design somewhat reminiscent of a scaled-down version of the crosswalk covering installed at Sox-35th in 2002-03, includes 10 art glass panels in its roofing. The red-tinted images are of a PCC streetcar and the former streetcar terminal at 84th/State, three blocks north of the "L" station. The images are installed at one of four different angles arranged randomly.

Also included as part of the graphics package were station name signs mounted outside the tracks on the expressway sidewall, facing the platform. These types of "outside" station name signs were previous seen primarily at ADA-accessible stations, although they were installed at all renovated Dan Ryan stations including those without elevators, like 87th. The frames on which these signs were mounted included a feature unseen before: a stainless steel panel between the posts on the back of which was mounted an extruded resin CTA logo facing the expressway. This was one of several ways the new (as of 2004) CTA logo was incorporated into the renovated Dan Ryan stations. The logo was also mounted along the cornice of all the station houses (typically at the rear end of the side elevation with with half of the shield extending above the roofline) and was applied as a hanging station "identifier" underneath the eyebrow canopy as the stations that received these coverings.


Red Line South Reconstruction Project

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.

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 was no 'L' service on the Dan Ryan branch south of Roosevelt station. 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. 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.

The five-month construction option saved $75 million over an option to perform work on weekends only. CTA invested that $75 million savings into station upgrades along the south Red Line, including lighting improvements, painting, new roofs and canopies at some stations, electrical substation work, and other improvements. In addition, elevators were added to the 87th, 63rd, and Garfield stations, making the whole Dan Ryan branch, and indeed all "L" stations on the whole South Side, accessible.


This view looking south on the 87th station platform on December 8, 2006 shows several elements from the station's renovation, including new concrete flooring, refurbished canopy structure and new skylight "bubbles", new signage, and new Dan Ryan-standard stainless steel seating. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Victor Ramirez)

87th Station (1969-2003) | Dan Ryan Renovation (2004-present)

87th Station (1969-2003)

87th02.jpg (127k)
The 87th station, looking north from the Dan Ryan Expressway on July 28, 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

87thSign.jpg (21k)
A 87th Street KDR-type station column sign. (Sign from the collection of Graham Garfield)

Dan Ryan Renovation

87th04.jpg (159k)
To allow for the removal of the escalator from street-level to the platform, a plywood wall was erected he enclose the east half of the former fare control area at the north end of the 87th platform. Looking south on September 1, 2005, the slightly-relocated fare controls are visible beyond he plywood enclosure. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

87th06.jpg (198k)
In this September 1, 2005 view looking south on the 87th platform, the terrazzo flooring has been removed, as have some of the plexiglas canopy "bubbles". The original stainless steel windbreaks have also been removed. The electrical conduits in the foreground, spray painted orange to alert customers to potential hazards (as are other elements in the station, such as the platform edge), were originally on the panel of a windbreak. The plywood boxes along the platform contain construction equipment and materials. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

87th07.jpg (183k)
The refurbished 87th platform is seen looking north on December 8, 2006 with new flooring, signage, and Dan Ryan-standard stainless steel windbreak. In the distance, the new stainless steel "storefront" doors and windows can be seen which now enclose the station house and protect it from inclement weather. (Photo by Victor Ramirez)

87th09.jpg (161k)
A detail view of the art glass in the eyebrow canopy over the street-level entrance on December 8, 2006, showing red-tinted images of a PCC streetcar rotated at random angles. (Photo by Victor Ramirez)

87th11.jpg (179k)
The refurbished 87th station house, seen looking through the tall weeds along the west frontage road of the Dan Ryan Expressway on December 8, 2006, incorporated a number of identification elements, including red banding to aid in line identification and large CTA logos mounted along the cornice of the station house, with half of the shield extending above the roofline. (Photo by Victor Ramirez)

87th12.jpg (157k)
The north auxiliary entrance to the 87th station is nearing completion in this December 8, 2006 view looking north. In three days, the chainlink fence would be removed and customers would no longer have to cross wide, busy 87th Street to enter the station from the north side of the street. (Photo by Victor Ramirez)

87th13.jpg (150k)
This view of the renovated 87th station looking south from the 87th Street bridge over the Dan Ryan Expressway on December 8, 2006 shows several elements from the rehabilitation project, including new canopy skylights, new signage, and the refurbished, repainted station house and canopy. (Photo by Victor Ramirez)

87th14.jpg (201k)
The refurbished 87th platform is seen looking southeast on December 8, 2006 as the Snickers-ad wrapped cars 2605-06 leave the station. Visible improvements include the new platform flooring, refurbished canopy with new skylights, new signage including expressway-facing CTA logos, and a three-sided map/timetable pylon. (Photo by Victor Ramirez)

87th15.jpg (183k)
This view of the refurbished 87th platform looking southeast on December 8, 2006 shows how the new wall-mounted station name signs outside the tracks with their extruded CTA logos repeating along the back creates a strong CTA identity along the Dan Ryan Expressway. (Photo by Victor Ramirez)