The platform at Bryn Mawr, looking north on June 14, 2003. The canopy dates from the 1921 track elevation and the stair enclosure (behind the pay phone) is from a 1974 renovation. The Bryn Mawr station name sign was installed circa 1998 and is of the new Current Graphic Standard (though the colored tabs on either side have been omitted to fir the existing bracket). For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
Bryn Mawr Avenue and Broadway, Edgewater
Red Line: Howard
Address: 1119 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue
Established: May 16, 1908
Original Line: Northwestern Elevated Railroad
Previous Names: Edgewater
Rebuilt: 1921, 1974
Status: In Use
"L" service first entered north Chicago and Evanston by way of an agreement to use the tracks of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway's tracks, replacing the steam service that the St. Paul had previously provided. The Chicago City Council authorized the electrification of the tracks of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad's tracks from Graceland Avenue (Irving Park Road) to the city limits on July 1, 1907. Unlike Evanston (as per the 1907 franchise agreement from the city), the Chicago City Council did not require that the grade-level tracks be elevated, but they did prohibit the use of a third rail for safety's sake, necessitating the use of overhead trolley wire. "L" service north of Wilson to Central Avenue in Evanston began on May 16, 1908.
The St. Paul had a station named Edgewater at Bryn Mawr Avenue near Evanston Avenue (now Broadway). The station, of a style typical of railroad depots, was located on the east side of the tracks on the south side of Bryn Mawr. As they did at the other stations on the newly electrified line, the Northwestern Elevated Railroad chose not to use the station facilities of the St. Paul steam railroad, which were situated and designed for the needs of a main line commuter railroad rather than a rapid transit service. Instead, the Northwestern built a new station at the same location as the St. Paul's station. The "L" station facility at Edgewater was a simple ground-level station and modest platform on the south side of Bryn Mawr Avenue. The station house was a small, wood frame building set between the two tracks at ground level with a wooden walkway and stairs leading up to it from the street. The exterior used clapboard siding and a hipped roof with eaves. The rear opened out onto an island platform. The platform had a short canopy with a hipped roof (which was actually a continuation of the station house's roof) and center wooden columns with angled brackets, and wood decking.
Track Elevation and a New Station
In the mid-1910s, the Northwestern Elevated began to elevate the tracks north from Wilson to Howard, but work was slow due to the city's refusal to close intersecting streets and the narrow right-of-way. The elevation work involved complex staging and the temporary relocation of tracks to maintain service while building the new elevated embankment in the same right-of-way. In early 1916, trains were moved onto a temporary trestle, allowing demolition of the original tracks and stations, but construction of a permanent embankment had to wait until the end of World War I due to a materials shortage.
With the track elevation came a completely new station. The entrance to the "L" station was located on the south side of Bryn Mawr Avenue. The station had a design typical of the facilities built as part of the Wilson-Howard elevation project. Designed by architect Charles P. Rawson and engineered by C.F Loweth, the architectural design was a Prairie School-influenced vernacular form, with the Prairie influence seen most acutely in the ornamental cement pilasters on the front facade and in the details of the wooden doors, windows, and ticket agents' booths. The exterior was brick and cast concrete with a bedford stone base, wooden doors and large plate glass windows and transoms. Ornamental globed light fixtures decorated the pilaster capitals. The station house was centered within the solid-fill embankment, with retail spaces flanking it on both sides filling in the remaining width of the embankment.
The interior was rendered in plaster, wood, glazed brick, and brick with terrazzo floors. There were arches stretching across the interior between the support columns. In the center of the interior, passengers found a decorative wooden ticket agent's booth with ornamental woodwork and a metal grille over the ticket agent's window. The station also had public restrooms.
There were four tracks through Edgewater station, but the outer two tracks were for express trains and were not served by the station. A single island platform between the two center tracks served local trains. The platform had wood decking and a canopy with metal columns down the center line which split into gently-curving gull wing-shaped roof supports, supporting a wooden canopy roof. The stairs were sheltered by wooden enclosures with wooden bottoms and windows on top, divided into rows of square panes, with swinging doors at the front of each enclosure. Like most of the stations north of Lawrence, there was an auxiliary exit, located on the north side of the street, descending down in the middle of retail spaces built under the elevated. Bryn Mawr is one of the only stations between Wilson to Howard to retain this auxiliary exit in service today.
In December 1920, it was reported that the Bryn Mawr station, along with Argyle, Edgewater Beach,, Thorndale, Granville, and Jarvis, would be completed by late Spring 1921.1 By early 1922, the new four track mainline was completed, allowing full express service to the city limits.
By 1926, the station's name had been changed to Bryn Mawr.
The renovated Bryn Mawr station house, seen here shortly after completion in 1974, had all new flooring, wall treatments, fare controls, agent's booth, and signage. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from CTA Collection)
Bryn Mawr station was rehabilitated in 1974, in a project that kept most of the station's existing superstructure and a good deal of the existing finished build-out, at least at the platform level. The rehab included a complete reworking of the station house, including a new front facade (some of the pilasters were left in place, but it received otherwise all-new facing, windows and doors), new fare controls and agent's booth, new concession, new flooring, and new wall and ceiling finishes. The basic form of the original station house remained visible, most readily identifiable in those arched columns, but otherwise it was an entirely new interior. The electrical and mechanical systems were upgraded as needed. One set of stairs to the station house and the auxiliary exit stairs were upgraded with new materials, but another of the stairs to the station house was replaced with an all-new escalator. All three vertical access paths received new lighting.
At platform level, more was left intact. The original 1920s canopy remained, although it was cleaned, repaired, and repainted. The wooden platform deck, while repaired and replaced as needed, remained in the same materials. New stainless steel, aluminum and Plexiglas enclosures were built around the stairs and escalator down to street-level, replacing the original wooden kiosks that had been there previously. All new lighting was installed under the canopy, as well as on the platform beyond the canopy. New signage was installed throughout the station. Currently, Bryn Mawr is the only station built in the 1920s North Side elevation project to still have its auxiliary exit stairway across from the main station entrance open and in use (Morse still has a secondary exit as well, but to another street).
In 2006, the station name signs and column signs on the platform were replaced, with Green Line Graphic Standard signs replacing the KDR Standard graphics, and new entrance signs installed as part of a signage upgrade project on the Red Line. As part of this effort, the station also received granite compass roses inset into the sidewalk in front of the station entrance to assist customers leaving the station to navigate their way, and three-sided galvanized steel pylons in the station house and on the platform to display maps and station timetables.
In 2008, the canopy at Bryn Mawr was refurbished. The roof was removed and replaced with a new corrugated metal top. The metal canopy supports were stripped and repainted. New lighting was also installed as part of the renovation.
On Tuesday, December 18, 2012, the CTA board approved authorizing an agreement with the City to use local funding to help pay for enhancements at Bryn Mawr station, which include a station house renovation and the addition of an elevator to make the station accessible. The CTA has identified $25 million in funds for improving the station. State and federal funds provide $15 million of funding, while $10 million comes from tax increment financing. Details of what specific work will occur at the station and a timeline for when work will begin have not yet been determined, according to the CTA.2 Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced a proposal to City Council on February 13, 2013 to support the enhancements to the Bryn Mawr station with up to $10 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) assistance.3
The project is planned to include new lighting, fixtures, and platform surfaces, along with upgrades to the existing station house, tracks, and elevator.4
Bryn Mawr was not part of the Red North Station Interim Improvements Project, which improved seven North Side Red Line stations in 2012 -- Jarvis, Morse, Granville, Thorndale, Berwyn, Argyle and Lawrence -- which included renovations to the station facilities and the viaducts and tracks through the station areas. That work included substantial improvements to the stations, including masonry work, new interior flooring and finishes, new platform decks, and new lighting and signage, but did not include the addition of elevators for accessibility. It is not clear if the work being planned for Bryn Mawr will be life-extension work like that in Red North Station Interim Improvements Project until the Red-Purple Modernization Project (RPM) (see below) can rebuild the station, or if the project will perform the complete reconstruction envisioned in the RPM Project.
Red-Purple Lines Modernization (RPM) Project
Due to the deteriorating condition of the infrastructure on the Red Line north of Belmont and on the Purple Line, the CTA initiated the Red-Purple Modernization Project (RPM) to bring the existing transit stations, track systems, and structures into a state of good repair. The project, which stretches along the existing Red and Purple lines from north of Belmont station to Linden terminal, would help bring the existing transit line into a state of good repair, reduce travel times, improve access to job markets and destinations, and provide improved access to people with disabilities.
The project began in 2009 with a vision study to assess the scope of needs and develop a set of alternatives for study. In 2010, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), CTA and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) initiated the environmental review process for the project and undertook work to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The process included numerous public meetings and input opportunities, and study of various alternatives for achieving a good state of repair for the infrastructure in the project area.
A number of alternatives are under consideration for the RPM project, including the comprehensive reconstruction of track, stations, and structures along the line. The four options currently under consideration and study, not including an FTA-required "no action" baseline scenario, include:
The Modernization with Station Consolidation option includes the consolidation of Thorndale station with the Granville and Bryn Mawr stations by closing the existing Thorndale station and adding entrances to Granville and Bryn Mawr -- at Glenlake Avenue for Granville station, approximately one block north of Thorndale station and one block south of Granville station.; and at Hollywood Avenue, approximately two blocks south of Thorndale station and one block north of Bryn Mawr station.
Other alternatives considered earlier in the study but subsequently eliminated due to public comment and further study included basic rehabilitation without adding a transfer station at Loyola, a modernization option with only three tracks between Lawrence and Howard, and a modernization option with a 2-track subway under Broadway.
The full-scale modernization envisioned on the Red-Purple Modernization Project could cost anywhere from $2.5 to $5 billion. On February 8, 2012, the CTA board retained Goldman Sachs & Co. to lead the search for public-private partnerships to help finance the reconstruction, which has no firm date. Goldman Sachs will work with Chicago-based Loop Capital Markets LLC and Estrada Hinojosa & Co., but will accept no fee for the first year as it determines the ability to raise private capital.
See CTA's Red & Purple Modernization page for more information about the scoping and planning process, and the various alternatives being considered.
Bryn Mawr's exterior got a new facade in the 1974 renovation. The Prairie School columns were retained, but otherwise the exterior was clad on nondescript brick facing with glass and stainless steel windows and doors, seen looking southwest on June 14, 2003. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
1. "3 NEW STATIONS ON NORTH SIDE "L" READY JAN. 1." Chicago Daily Tribune, 1920 December 1, pg. 21.
2. Swartz, Tracy. "Bryn Mawr stop to see overhaul." Red Eye, 2012 December 19.
3. "TIF Proposed For Bryn Mawr Red Line Station Improvements". City of Chicago press release, 2013 February 13.