The Addison station house is seen looking north on May 26, 2005. The functional, rectilinear International Style building, with its simple steel and glass enclosure and completely open front, is typical of the stations designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill for the Kennedy Extension. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
Addison Street and Central Park Avenue, Avondale/Irving Park
Blue Line: O'Hare
Address: 3622 W. Addison Street
Established: February 1, 1970
Original Line: West-Northwest Route, Milwaukee branch
Previous Names: none
Rebuilt: 2016 (renovation, elevator added)
Status: In Use
Heading to the Jefferson Park terminal, a six-car train of 2200-series railcars trailed by car 2277 wraps its way around the Addison station as part of the dedication activities for the new Kennedy Extension on January 30, 1970. For a larger view, click here. (CTA photo)
The extension of the Milwaukee Line of the West-Northwest Route (the forerunner of today's Blue Line) reached its new terminal at Jefferson Park via a new subway and the median of the Kennedy Expressway. After running in subway under Milwaukee and Kimball avenues, the line crosses under the eastbound lanes of the John F. Kennedy Expressway at School Street (3300N), ascends to the surface and continues northwest another four miles in the median of the Kennedy Expressway to Jefferson Park (5400N). Built concurrently with the Dan Ryan Line -- and together known as the Kennedy-Dan Ryan ("KDR") project -- the Kennedy Extension incorporated several new design features that were considered revolutionary or at least very modern for the time.
The design of the six stations of the Kennedy Extension was 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 KDR project in a unique direction, designing all aspects of the new lines to harmonize in both shapes and materials. The shape of everything, from the buildings to the agents' booths, to the trash cans, 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 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. All windbreaks, dividers, and ticket booths were stainless steel.
The International style median stations were constructed of white steel and glass providing maximum visibility from adjacent streets and highways boxy. 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, 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 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 boarding platforms were long enough to accommodate 8-car trains.
The interior of the Addison station is seen looking north from the sidewalk on May 26, 2005. The square shapes of the booth and overhead sign -- both original to the station's construction -- were designed to harmonize with the gridded form of the rest of the station. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
Addison is one of four median stations, which were the centerpieces of Skidmore's design for the KDR project. The station features an entrance on the north side of Addison Street, a rectilinear building of white-painted steel frame with full-height glass curtain walls located at street level and cantilevered over the tracks below. The stainless steel ticket agent booth and turnstiles were at street level; the booth is now used by a Customer Assistant, and the original turnstiles were replaced with Cubic-manufactured electronic farecard equipment -- turnstiles and vending machines -- in the mid-1990s. The booth and fare controls are near the front of the interior, leaving most of the interior on the paid side. A stairway and escalator connect the station house to the island platform.
Typical of the Skidmore-designed KDR stations, the Addison platform featured large-aggregate terrazzo flooring and a canopy supported by a single row of square support posts. The canopy, which extends beyond the center line of the tracks, has a white-painted steel frame with rows of translucent domes. Self-service infrared radiant heaters are located at windbreaks on the platforms. The platform is curved, which was not ideal but workable because conductors worked the doors on the train and were positioned in the center of the train where they visibility from the midpoint of the curve. After conductors were withdrawn from trains in the 1990s, cameras and monitors were set up to assist the Operator with the view down the train when closing the side doors.
In early 2005, Addison received new signage, mostly on the platform. The older KDR-type station name signs and column-mounted "symbol signs" were replaced with new Green Line Graphic Standard versions. Also replaced were the directional wayfinding signs, the long signs directing passengers to which direction of service operates on which side of the platform, at the entrance to the platform. New station entrance signs were added at street level, two mounted in a V-shape on the fascia of the station house projecting outward toward the street.
Your New Blue: Station Improvements
On December 5, 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Pat Quinn announced a comprehensive improvement plan for the Blue Line O'Hare Branch (including the northern portion of the Dearborn Subway), an overhaul that would provide faster travel times and updated stations while creating more than 1,300 jobs.
The $492 million plan, called Your New Blue, included several track and station improvement projects along a 12.5-mile stretch of the Blue Line between the Grand and Cumberland stations, as well as upgrades to the signal system between the Jefferson Park and O'Hare stations. The overall Your New Blue program, beginning construction in 2014 and planned to last four years, was a package of several discrete projects ranging from station improvements to track renewal, signal replacement, traction power upgrades, and subway tunnel water mitigation efforts.
Addison was one of 13 stations planned to receive improvements under the program. The work at Addison included installation of a new elevator and new stairway to replace the one the elevator will displace, and an extension to the station house to enclose the new stairway. The station also received new signage throughout, including digital displays for train and bus arrival times, and a backlit CTA Identifier on the front of the station house. The platform was also extended 35 feet northwest to accommodate the new stairs to replace the existing ones which were displaced by the new elevator; the new stairs take up a like amount of the existing south end of the platform, so the platform needed to be extended to compensate for the displaced berthing area. Addison station was chosen to receive the accessibility improvements predominantly because of input from the accessibility community.1
Addison, Irving Park, Montrose, Harlem and Cumberland stations were packaged as a group for design and construction, and all five stations had significant deterioration to their island platform decks and particularly the edges cantilevered toward the tracks. To address this, the stations received new platform edge and topping replacement. In addition, platform furniture such as benches, windbreaks and trash cans was rehabilitated or replaced as needed. Light fixtures were provided with new lamps and ballasts, and all five stations were repainted.
On March 11, 2015, the Chicago Transit Board approved the award of a $25.6 million contract to F.H. Paschen and S.N. Nielsen for the renovation of five O'Hare branch stations, including Addison. Design work began in spring 2015, with rehabilitation work at the Addison, Irving Park, Montrose, Harlem and Cumberland stations to begin in fall 2015. All stations remained open during the construction period, except for a small number of weekend-only closures at Addison and Montrose. In addition, in order to carry out the platform renewal work, each station's platform was closed half at a time, longitudinally down the middle. Trains bypassed the side of the platform being worked on, which was barricaded from passenger access to allow the deck topping to be removed and replaced. Each half-closure and bypass period lasted three weeks (except at Harlem and Cumberland, which were shorter), during which passengers had to "back-ride" (riding to the next stop, exiting and boarding a train back in the opposite direction) or use alternate existing bus or rail services. While inconvenient, the partial station closures allowed the CTA to keep the stations open for customers at all times during platform work.
As of December 2015, the relocation of signal equipment, partial demolition of the platform canopy, replacement of some platform sections, and installation of new caissons was ongoing and largely completed by mid-January 2016. At that time, installation of new canopy steel and concrete decking on the platform extension was underway. Installation of a new staircase from the station house to the platform was scheduled for the first quarter of 2016, once the platform extension was completed. The 35-foot platform extension at the north end of Addison station was placed in service on Monday, March 7, 2016.
Addison station's platform renewal began with the Forest Park-bound platform side, which was closed March 15-April 5, followed by the O'Hare-bound platform side on April 5-April 25. The first of Addison's weekend closures -- to allow work to be performed on the station, including not only the new elevator and stair but also complete renovation of the station house interior -- occurred on March 4-7 from 10pm Friday to 4am Monday; the second took place on March 18-21. The rest of the weekend closures took place on June 10-13, June 17-20 and August 5-8.
The new stair and structural steel for the extension of the station house around it were installed over the weekend of June 18-19, 2016. That weekend, much of the station house interior was also gutted, including dismantling of the original ticket agent's booth and removal of the roof where the elevator tower would go; a temporary booth and interior configuration were employed while renovations continued. The pre-assembled elevator tower framing steel was lowered into place through the station house roof the weekend of August 6-7, lifted from a flatbed truck in the closed adjacent express lanes of the expressway.
A temporary fare control area used at Addison from October 12-19, to accommodate construction of the new, permanent Customer Assistant booth and complete installation of new finishes in fare control area.
On November 28, 2016, Mayor Emanuel and CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. announced that the CTA had completed the renovation of the five O'Hare branch CTA stations at an event at the refurbished Addison station. Addison station's new elevator was placed in service that morning.
New, one-of-a-kind artwork will serve as the finishing touch for the Addison and Irving Park Blue Line stations, as part of the renovation and upgrades as part of the Your New Blue program. On December 14, 2016, the Chicago Transit Board awarded contracts to two renowned artists to commission new public art for permanent display at both stations.
The CTA has selected Chicago-based artist, curator and educator Dan Devening for new artwork at Irving Park station, and internationally acclaimed Italian artist Francesco Simeti for artwork at Addison, selecting the artists from nearly 350 proposals submitted to the agency as part of a Call for Artists issued in February 2016. CTA hosted public meetings with the selected artists to gather community input, which assisted the artists in their development of site-specific artwork.
The artwork will be paid for with Federal Transit Enhancement funds provided by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The comprehensive budget for both projects is estimated to be $200,000, which includes costs associated with artist fees, fabrication, shipping/delivery and contingency.
The Addison station platform is seen looking southeast on November 4, 2005. The station house is visible in the distance, and the original aggregate deck is still in place. The platform isn't very wide and the curve in it is less-than-ideal operationally. The monitors up above are the aid the Operator with the view of the side doors down the train. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
The entrance to Addison station is seen looking northwest on November 24, 2002. With the building still painted all-white it more closely resembles its original 1970 appearance. Note that, it being close to the holidays, a garland has been strung on the outside of the Customer Assistant's booth. (Photo by by Graham Garfield)
The Addison station is seen looking down from the Addison Street overpass on November 24, 2002. The street-level building extends down to the platform to fully enclose the vertical access elements. The design of the platform, with its canopy of rows of domed roof panels supported by a single row of columns, can be clearly seen, as can the severe curve in the platform following the path of the expressway. (Photo by by Graham Garfield)
The windbreak in the foreground was original to the station's design and construction, and is a good example of the holistic design approach Skidmore took to the Kennedy-Dan Ryan project. The shelter's clean lines and rectilinearly match those of the station's architectural overall, and the use of polishes stainless steel was consistent with most of the original fixtures and fittings. The Addison station name sign is also consistent with this aesthetic philosophy, and was part of the KDR signage standard designed for the project but eventually implemented systemwide. This view looking northwest on November 24, 2002. (Photo by by Graham Garfield)
The Addison station platform is seen looking northwest from the south end, at the bottom of the escalator to the station house, on November 24, 2002. The canopy and flooring are still original in this view, as are several of the fixtures (like the windbreak in the distance, detail view above) and signs like symbol signs on the columns, backlit directional sign overhead (although it was updated to reflect O'Hare as the terminal, an extension opened after this station opened) and the "Board here" signs with red lower compartment with "disappearing" Pay on train reading (illuminated remotely from the agent's booth). These are interspersed with new items like the LED A/V signs and the tall, narrow box that contains the "gap filler", used to bridge the gap (both vertically and horizontally) between the platform and train floor for customers in wheelchairs. (Photo by by Graham Garfield)
The interior in the paid area of the Addison station is seen on May 26, 2005, looking northwest at the stairs and escalator to the platform. This portion of the station is very spacious, with lot of extra room and circulation capacity. Some of it has been used for equipment cabinets and bike racks. The full-height window curtain walls give the station a light, open feeling with a lot of natural light. At the same time, they enhance visibility and security -- all of which were design goals for the station architects. (Photo by by Graham Garfield)
1. Hilkevitch, Jon. "Blue Line renovations on 5 Northwest Side stations to start this fall." Chicago Tribune, March 11, 2015.