The entrance to the Belmont subway station, an International style structure surrounded by an intermodal bus terminal, is seen looking southwest on October 23, 2003. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Belmont (3200N/3400W)
Belmont Avenue and Kimball Avenue, Avondale

Service Notes:

Blue Line: O'Hare (Milwaukee-Kimball Subway)

Owl Service

Quick Facts:

Address: 3355 W. Belmont Avenue
Established: February 1, 1970
Original Line: West-Northwest Route, Milwaukee branch
(Milwaukee-Kimball Subway)
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:

Station (1970-1983)

Station (1983-1995)

Rebuilt: n/a
Status: In Use


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. Two stations, Logan Square and Belmont, were built as part of the Milwaukee-Kimball Subway, the only subway stations built as part of the entire Kennedy-Dan Ryan ("KDR") project.

The rectilinear design of Skidmore's architecture -- the stainless steel agent's booth, the backlit sign box, the ceiling coffers -- is exemplified in the station's fare control mezzanine, seen on October 23, 2003. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The design of Belmont station, like the rest of the KDR project, was carried out by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, who developed a modern, functional form. Skidmore took the 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 shape of everything, from the buildings to the agents' booths, to the trashcans, flowed together into a seamless design philosophy, which perfectly captured the boxy, purely functional International Modern style for which Skidmore is so well known.

Another hallmark of the Kennedy and Dan Ryan extensions, reflecting a change in transit design and philosophy in the postwar era, was that many of the stations were designed to be intermodal. Designers no longer assumed that walk-in traffic from local neighborhoods and surrounding businesses would support the usage levels needed to justify a transit station, so many were designed to be intermodal, integrating a bus terminal into the design. Buses were also sometimes rerouted specifically to serve a station to enhance the station's ridership (although no reroutes were instituted to serve Belmont). Of course, having multiple modes connect at transit nodes also makes a system more effective and better integrated as a unit.

So, Belmont's street level entrance finds itself wrapped around on its south and east sides by an off-street bus terminal. The entrance itself is a simple International Style steel-and-glass enclosure around a set of stairs and an escalator leading down to the mezzanine were the fare controls are located. The enclosure is topped with a large box canopy supported by four I-beam corner posts that cantilevers out several feet on all sides from the closure. This covered space acts as a protected waiting area for bus passengers. The steel of the enclosure was painted all white. As built, the were no marks or signage that specifically identified the enclosure as a CTA "L" station. Rather, there was a pylon located to the northwest of the entrance, on the corner of Belmont and Kimball, topped with a sign that read "Use Rapid Transit". These were typical of KDR stations.

The fare controls are at a mezzanine level. The mezzanine is not enclosed, as in the State and Dearborn subways, but is cantilevered over the platform, and thus functions more as an open deck overlooking the track level. The rectilinear motif of Skidmore's design is reflected in the ceiling, signage, agent's booth, the original turnstiles (since replaced), and the simple tubular railings. The station has a concession at mezzanine level.

The island platform is spacious, with a column-free platform obtained by using a box-girder construction. The walls of the station mezzanine and platform areas were off-white brick (since discolored to a tan hue), with white concrete coffered ceilings and fluorescent lights recessed in the coffers. Further down the platform from the mezzanine, the ceiling lowers and becomes arched concrete. The platform was outfitted with amenities specially designed to coordinate with the station, including benches and pedestal-mounted box signs with station symbol signs and bus connection information.

In mid-2002, the station received some enhanced identification at street level. With the "Use Rapid Transit" pylon long since removed, the fascia of the box canopy over the entrance was repainted blue to denote the Blue Line and make it stand out more in the surrounding environment. Large white vinyl letters were applied that read "Blue Line - Belmont", preceded by the CTA train symbol. In some ways, this application presaged the modification of the standard station entrance signs to include the station name, the first of which was installed in 2004. This lettering was later covered in a repainting of the canopy fascia.


'Gateway' Entrance Renovation

Rendering of the 'community gateway' street-level canopy over the Belmont subway entrance and bus terminal. For a larger view, click here. (Rendering courtesy of CTA)

On October 17, 2016, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. announced plans for an improvement project at the Belmont station that would infuse unique architecture into the Northwest Side neighborhood. The renovation project will include a 'community gateway,' architecturally enhancing the street-level entrance to the Belmont subway station, and will improve the bus arrival/departure areas to speed bus boarding.

The most visible element will be an architectural canopy above the Belmont station entrance. Designed by the Chicago architecture firm Carol Ross Barney, the canopy will provide an expanded covered area for waiting customers, while creating a strong visual identifier for both the CTA and the community. Ross Barney, who provided another striking design for the "L" at Cermak-McCormick Place and designed Morgan as well, sought to provide a visually striking design for the site. Some have likened the canopy's look to a metal bird in flight1 or a bird's wing2.

The gateway will also incorporate prepaid bus boarding, which CTA began testing in summer 2016 with a six-month pilot at the Belmont Blue station. Prepaid boarding allows customers at the station to prepay their bus fares ahead of boarding westbound #77 Belmont buses in the bus terminal during the weekday evening rush hours (3pm to 7pm). The goal of the pilot program was to study how permitting customers to pre-pay their fares in a designated area improves the speed and efficiency of bus boarding and overall bus service.

The project will also include streetscape and landscape improvements which, combined with the station improvements, will create a signature gateway to the Avondale community.

The gateway project is expected to cost up to $15 million, with the improvements planned to begin in 2017. Work is projected to be completed sometime in the second half of 2018. The renovation, funded by bond proceeds, is part of the Your New Blue modernization program for renovating Blue Line stations, including ongoing work at Addison.3


Belmont's platform achieves a spacious feeling thanks to its high, coffered ceilings and column-free environment. This view looks south on October 23, 2003 as an inbound Blue Line train leaves the station. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The sleek, streamlined 2200-series railcars were used for the dedication trip of the new Kennedy Extension rapid transit line. Built by the Budd Company with aesthetics designed by the same architects who designed the stations -- Skidmore Owings & Merrill -- the six-car train led by car 2255 perfectly compliments the open, airy, modern Belmont station, seen looking down from mezzanine level on January 30, 1970. (CTA photo)

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The modern, open steel-and-glass station entrance at Belmont is located on an island surrounded by the two main cross-streets (background) and the off-street bus turnaround (foreground), seen looking northwest on October 23, 2003. At the time of the photo, the turnaround was only used by westbound #77 Belmont buses. Eastbound #77 buses stopped on the street alongside the entrance, while #82 Kimball-Homan buses stop on Kimball in both directions. (Photo by by Graham Garfield)

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This view looking north on the Belmont platform on October 23, 2003 shows the station's high ceilings and how the fare control mezzanine is open and cantilevered over the platform like an open deck, somewhat reminiscent of the Washington DC Metro's subway stations. (Photo by by Graham Garfield)

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On the 5th Annual Historic "L" Station Tour, sponsored by, tour guide Graham Garfield discusses the unity of design and coherent philosophy behind SOM's modern Belmont station, as tour members listen and look on. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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Tour co-guide John Craib-Cox points out relevant aspects of Belmont station's design to members of the 2003 Historic "L" Station Tour on October 26, 2003. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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Tour guide Graham Garfield, perched atop on the the station's custom-designed granite benches, discusses Belmont's architecture as an in-service outbound Blue Line train stops during the Historic "L" Station Tour on October 26, 2003. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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This unique and dramatic perspective from the fare control mezzanine shows the participants of the 5th Annual Historic "L" Station Tour walking down the platform toward the stairs and escalator, making their way to street-level to continue the tour of the station. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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The members of the 2003 Historic "L" Station Tour gather outside of the station entrance to hear about the design of the street level facilities on October 26, 2003. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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Graham Garfield explains the history of Avondale and the context of the station in the surrounding community while standing on front of the eastbound Belmont bus stop in front of the station during the Historic "L" Station Tour on October 26, 2003. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)


1. Wisniewski, Mary. "CTA plans $15 million upgrade for Belmont Blue Line station". Chicago Tribune, October 17, 2016.
2. Hinz, Greg. "CTA brings beauty to key el stops". Crain's Chicago Business, October 17, 2016.
3. Wisniewski, ibid.