The 1895-vintage California station house is seen looking northwest on December 29, 2014, after rehabilitation. The historic station house displays its Queen Anne styling with influences of the Arts and Crafts and Romanesque styles, typical of many Metropolitan West Side Elevated stations, although the front bay was later reconstructed. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Damen

(2000W/1600N) Damen entrance

(1600N/2000W) North exit

Damen Avenue, North Avenue and Milwaukee Avenue, Wicker Park (West Town)

Service Notes:

Blue Line: O'Hare

Owl Service

Quick Facts:

Address: 1558 N. Damen Avenue
Established: May 6, 1895
Original Line: Metropolitan West Side Elevated, Northwest branch
Previous Names: Robey Street

Skip-Stop Type:

Station

Rebuilt: 2014
(rehabilitation)
Status: In Use

History:

The Damen station house is seen looking northwest in 1985. Aside from the window that was expanded into a door (and subsequently boarded up), the building retains a great deal of its architectural integrity at this point, including its original front semicircular bay. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Originally named Robey Street, Damen was built in 1895 as part of the original section of the Metropolitan "L"'s Northwest branch. Damen, like most Met stations, consisted of a brick station house with simple amenities and a wood-deck platform with steel canopies, railings and shepherd's crook lights.

The station house is typical of Met designs on the Northwest and Garfield Park branches. Built by the Jonathan Clark & Sons Company for the general contractor, Alfred Walcott, the stations were designed by the engineering staff of the Metropolitan company. Constructed of red pressed brick with stone sills and foundations, their vernacular style might best be described as Queen Anne-influenced with some Romanesque features. The station's design is highlighted by the semicircular bay/portico, a lattice pattern in the brick cornice, extensive terra cotta work including the word "entrance" above one door in the portico and "exit" above the other (although there is nothing to force ingress from one and egress from the other), dentals above the doors' story lights, and carved wooden beads flush with the building between the wooden brackets which support a wooden canopy over the portico.

The station interior featured plaster walls with decorative wood moldings, picture rail, baseboards, and wainscotting. As originally built, the front bay functioned as a vestibule, with a second set of doors with transoms above them separating the vestibule from the main interior space. A freestanding wooden ticket agent's booth stood between the front doors and the rear doors, which passengers passed to pay their fare and gain entry to the platforms. Drawings of the station show that a newsstand with a display counter was originally built into the back wall, to the right of the rear doors; this space was later used for storage. Two doorways in the middle of the rear wall led to a central staircase up to a mezzanine level beneath the tracks. From this enclosed mezzanine landing, separate stairs ascended the inbound and outside platforms, leading up a half-level before splitting again to two stairways to each platform. The stair railing structure was somewhat decorative, with curved and twisted metal strap balustrades, cast iron newel posts with small designs cast in them and carved wooden handgrips.

The interior of the Damen station is in 1985, looking toward the front of the station from the paid area. Although beginning to show its age, the interior still retains much of its original woodwork and design. The booth and lights, while not original, are very early. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The station has dual side platforms, with canopies and railings typical of all Met stations. The stairs and platforms are constructed of wood on a steel structure. Each platform has a short canopy in the center of the platform, covering the stairs and a small waiting area. The canopy frame is iron, with arched latticed supports and bracketed rafters, and hipped roofs of corrugated tin. Strung beneath the canopy roof were incandescent lights for nighttime illumination. The platforms were additionally lit by gooseneck lamps that were integrated into the railing design, with certain posts extending above the railing -- about seven feet high, total -- and forming the fluted pole with a decorative capital onto which a gooseneck light fixture with a porcelain saucer-shaped shade with two or three incandescent light bulbs was attached. These railing-integrated light posts were later placed with shepherd's crook light poles affixed to the platform deck and railing. The original railings featured large cast iron square plates with a stylized diamond design in the middle, with twisted metal straps in an X configuration in between and topped by a row of arched, half-circle metal straps.

As part of the project circa 1930 to build platform extensions at stations on all the Met branches so they could handle 8-car trains, Damen station received platform extensions in 1931. Steel work was underway by spring. The platform extensions had much simpler railings, made of angle iron. The sole decorative element was a curved design at the ends of the platform, tapering the end railing toward the track-side platform edge.

Some time before 1946, the set of windows on the south side of the bay/portico on the front of the station house was replaced with a doorway. This was accomplished by removing the bottom sill of the window, as well as the bricks below it to the ground; the new doors were placed within the resulting opening. This third doorway into the station from the street was likely added due to heavy ridership at the station requiring greater ingress/egress capacity. Station floor plans indicate that this extra set of doors were locked and not in use by 1970; the second set of interior vestibule doors were also removed by this time. By the mid-1980s, a concession had been added along the southwest wall of the interior and the third set of doors had been covered outside with wood sheeting.

 

Humboldt Park Service

The Damen shuttle platform for Humboldt Park shuttle trains is seen looking west on June 27, 1957. The platform hasn't seen regular service for five years at this point. The track-level walkway connecting the shuttle platform to the main line's southbound platform is seen on the left. For a larger view, click here. (CTA photo)

Damen was an important station on the Metropolitan "L" for more than fifty years, located just before the junction of the Logan Square and Humboldt Park lines. A tower was located just north of the station, on the east side of the tracks at the junction, to control train movements. Except during rush hours when through service to downtown was operated and owl service when only a single car was used, Humboldt Park trains pushed their trailers to Robey Street where they coupled to trains from Logan Square for the trip downtown. The introduction of multiple unit control (allowing each car to operate as a motor independently) in 1904-05 eliminated this awkward procedure. More through trains were eventually added, although coupling procedures continued at Damen in some form or another until 1950.

As part of the construction of the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway, a new interlocking tower was installed just north of the station to control train operations at the nearby junction, as well as at Evergreen Junction where the new subway connected with the Milwaukee Elevated and Paulina Connector, though it was never actually used as such: by the time the tower was built, there were few if any movements between the Humboldt Park branch and the Logan Square line, and scheduled revenue service was not to be run over the Paulina Connector. By 1950, the CTA had targeted the branch for abandonment and with the through-routing of Logan Square trains into the new Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway on February 25, 1951, the nail was put in the coffin of the Humboldt Park branch.

A train of new 6000-series cars approaches the Damen station, looking northwest on the inbound platform on April 1, 1951. Humboldt Park trains have been reduced to a shuttle accessed through the tower, and the outbound platform extended to a new auxiliary exit to North Ave to facilitate bus transfers. The sign over the tower door reads, "HUMBOLDT PARK TRAINS", while the one at the foot of the walkway to the auxiliary exit on the opposite platform reads, "TO WESTBOUND NORTH AVENUE BUSES". Note the semaphore signal on the walkway. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the Bruce Moffat Collection)

Effective on the same date the subway opened, Humboldt through-service to the Wells Terminal was abandoned and reduced to a Lawndale-Damen shuttle at all times. Humboldt trains also no longer discharged directly onto the inbound platform at Damen for a direct, same-platform transfer. A new platform was built on the branch itself, just west of the junction with the Logan Square branch. A long track-level walkway led from the shuttle platform, along the tracks, through the Damen Tower, and onto the north end of the inbound Damen platform. Thus, the Humboldt shuttle cars never conflicted with the through-routed Logan Square trains. The transfer between Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains now proved to be rather inconvenient. An outbound passenger had to go down the stairs from the northbound platform to the mezzanine, back up on the southbound platform, through the tower, and down the nearly block and a half long track-level roofless walkway to the shuttle platform. About the same time, the north end of the outbound platform was extended and a new exit stairway was opened at the end to the north side of North Avenue, with a bus stop added at the bottom of same, to facilitate transfers to the North Avenue trolley bus route (which paralleled the Humboldt Park branch), thus further discouraging ridership on the Humboldt. On May 4, 1952, the Humboldt Park branch was abandoned by the CTA as hopelessly unprofitable and closed. Damen became a tranquil neighborhood station.

 

Met 100th Anniversary and Modest Improvements

In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of electric "L" service in Chicago and of the Metropolitan Elevated, the Damen station, which is considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, was renovated by CTA forces. Rehabilitation work was mostly concentrated in the station house, which received upgraded (but historic) lighting, striping of much of the interior's woodwork, laying a totally new oak floor in the station house and on the landings on the stairs up to the platforms, covering the walls of the walkways between the station and the stairs with new wall-to-ceiling tongue-in-groove paneling and a display of historic photographs of the station in the stairwell, as well as old fashioned (but inauthentic) signage in the station. The station's fare collection booth -- which may or may not be original, but was certainly old -- was moved from the middle to the east side of the interior to make more room for the fare controls. The exterior brick was cleaned, but the front bay was considerably modified. The portico was reconstructed, using new brick and losing its original terra cotta decorative elements. The station was rededicated on Sunday, August 20, 1995 and Blue Line management provided an 8-car train of historic 5-50 series PCC cars (like those pictured below, though not in their original paint scheme) to run special Damen-to-Morgan Middle round trips open to the public.

Some of the original decorative iron platform railings were removed in April 1998 and replaced with square steel tube railings.

During October and November 2003, CTA Sheet Metal Department crews renewed the metalwork on the historic platforms at Damen and California on the Milwaukee Elevated, including the canopies, canopy supports, railings, and stairs. At both stations, crews stripped old paint from the canopy roofs, posts, and supports and from railings, then sanded the ironwork down to remove additional paint, rust, and corrosion. Patching and repairs were made as necessary. The metalwork was then primed and given a fresh coat of white paint. Renewal and painting was also performed in the stringers that support the platform decking. Work on the platforms at Damen continued though December 2003.

Above: New sodium "shoebox" lights are seen at Damen on September 9, 2011, alongside the historic shepherd's crook incandescent lights they replaced. For a larger view, click here.
Below: Just a few months later, on May 9, 2012, newer lights are up at Damen -- a modernized version of the shepherd's crook poles. The poles from the short-lived sodium lights are laying on the platform. For a larger view, click here.
(Photos by Graham Garfield)

Damen was one of five CTA sites that were planned to provide access to vehicles belonging to I-GO, a car-sharing program. At their August 11, 2004 meeting, the Chicago Transit Board approved the agreement between the CTA , the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) and its affiliate I-GO Car Sharing (I-GO) to promote the use of public transportation by providing additional options for public transit users. The agreement established a yearlong pilot program where members could access I-GO vehicles at locations adjacent to or near public transportation.

In Fall 2005, the CTA began replacing the 1980s KDR-style platform signage with Green Line Graphic Standard station name signs and symbol signs. On each platform, south of the stairs, reproductions of symbol signs for Damen from the 1950s and 1980s were also installed, creating a sort of homage to the lineage and evolution of the design of that particular sign type.

In 2008, high-capacity bike parking was installed at Damen station, as well as three other stations -- Midway, Jefferson Park and Sox-35th -- as part of a project coordinated and led by the Chicago Department of Transportation. The city received a $916,000 grant from the Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program, a federal initiative geared toward providing the public with alternative means of travel to automobiles. The city chose the stations for the shelters based on neighborhoods most frequented by cyclists. All four locations received high-capacity "double-decker" bike racks, with Jefferson Park and Midway having 112 storage spaces for bikes, Damen having 108 and Sox-35th 42 spaces. The Sox-35th and Damen stations had their racks placed inside the stations, in their paid areas, while the shelters at Midway and Jefferson Park were located immediately outside those stations due to space constraints. At Damen, a new room was built to contain the racks at mezzanine level, behind the station and immediately beyond the landing where the stairs to the platforms split in each direction. The center section of the rear wall of the landing was removed to provide a doorway to the bike room, which had a grated floor, railings along the sides, and a corrugated ceiling with simple light fixtures. High-capacity racks were placed along the back wall of the room, while standard U-racks were placed nearest to the door, as well as outside the station house on the sidewalk.

Damen was one of the last stations on the "L" system to retain its historic incandescent bulb-lit shepherd's crook lights on the platforms. (Wilson was the other; the fixtures at Quincy are reproductions.) In the summer of 2011, these lights were replaced with sodium "shoebox" fixture lights on new poles. When the new fixtures were installed and lit, the old shepherd's crook poles were removed. Fortunately, the three original light poles -- fluted posts integrated into the railing system, original to the station's 1895 construction -- at the north end of the station were left in place and not affected.

The sodium shoebox-fixture platform lights didn't last long, as they were replaced by May 2012 with entirely new poles and fixtures. The new lights were modern, but made a good effort to evoke the feel of the historic lights using new components. The poles were unpainted steel and bent into a shepherd's crook with a bend shape close to those of authentic historic "L" lights, though the poles were a bit taller to keep the light fixture further out of reach of passengers. The light in each fixture was a single bulb enclosed in a glass cover surrounded by a metal cage-type protector, covered by a saucer-shaped white metal shade. The three original 1895 light fixtures remained through this renovation as well. At the same time, lights were installed on the exterior of the station house, with dark green crooked pipe mountings and top-color on the saucer shades.

 

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 will provide faster travel times and updated stations while creating more than 1,300 jobs.

The $492 million plan, called Your New Blue, includes 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, is a package of several discrete projects ranging from station improvements to track renewal, signal replacement, traction power upgrades, and subway tunnel water mitigation efforts.

Damen was one of the stations receiving improvements under the program. The scope of these improvements included work in front of the station at street level, to the station house, and to the platforms.1 Historic features of the station were preserved and restored.2 The Damen scope also included upgrading lighting, water and sewer systems.3

On February 5, 2014, the Chicago Transit Board approved the award of a $25.6 million design/build contract for the rehabilitation of the Damen, Western and California stations. F. H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen and Associates, LLC was awarded the station rehabilitation contract following a competitive procurement process.4 The Damen portion of the project cost $13.6 million.5 The California station, receiving a similar rehab, closed before Damen, between September 4 and October 16, 2014. The Damen work would take place after California reopened.

At the same meeting, the Board also approved contracts for artists to develop unique artwork for each station that reflects the neighboring community and will beautify the stations for customers' enjoyment. After reviewing 100 responses to a Call for Artists issued in December 2013 for artistic merit and related qualifications, the CTA awarded the contract to create public art for Damen station to Benjamin Ball/Gaston Nogues of Los Angeles, CA.6 The public art will be installed at a later date, after the station's temporary closure and renovation.

 

Rehabilitation Scope and Design

The interior of the renovated Damen station is seen on reopening day, December 29, 2014. The granite flooring and cement-plaster ceiling with recessed lighting are a more modern touch, but the stained wood wainscoting, picture rail and moldings replicate the original 1895 designs. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The renovation project included significant preservation and restoration of the historic elements in addition to general improvements. Outside the station, planned improvements include repainting of the elevated track structure, installation of new lighting on the elevated structure, replacement of sidewalk and plaza paving, and the installation of new bike racks. The station house exterior brick and terra cotta was cleaned and restored, and doors, windows and other woodwork restored or replaced with replicas of the original designs. The front bay/portico was not restored to its original 1895 appearance, however, as this would have required a complete reconstruction. It retained the masonry and look of its 1995 modification.

The interior was gutted, but cosmetically restored with wainscoting, door and window moldings, and other woodwork that reproduced the original designs. A new granite floor, Customer Assistant's booth -- relocated to the south corner of the interior -- and lighting were installed, and the concession space was removed to provide more floor space for passenger circulation. A digital screen for customer information, an additional farecard vending machine (for a total of three), and a swing-gate turnstile (for bikes, luggage, or other large items) were provided. A set of windows on the southwest wall that were earlier bricked up were not reopened, but the window moldings were cosmetically restored on the interior, and the window "glass" was covered with a photo mural commemorating the station's history.

The original 1895 platform canopies and railings were restored, while the later platform extensions were given new railings whose design is a contemporary take on the original Met "L" designs, providing a design that blends well and is sympathetic to the historic fabric but does not attempt to replicate it. New shepherd's crook lights replaced the lights installed in 2012; all the lighting in the station is bright, energy-efficient LED lighting. New signage, platform furniture, security cameras, PA systems and digital signs rounded out the renovation.

To improve the station's visibility and brand identity, station "identifiers" were included in the project. Mounted to the elevated track structure over the street, each identifier includes a large CTA logo centered on a horizontal pole to attract attention from afar and provide remote identification of the station's location, similar to identity signage for remote wayfinding used on many transit systems. The CTA logo is flanked by bus and train symbols, denoting the transit services available at or adjacent to the station.

The Damen station's new CTA identifier provides a striking presence and increased visibility of the station in this view at around 4am, Monday, December 22, 2014, when the station reopened after a two-month renovation. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

In this project, neither California nor Damen got elevators to make them accessible for riders with disabilities. The CTA said its broader, long-range goal is to have all stations accessible with elevators, but the aim of the specific California and Damen station projects in the Your New Blue program was to extend the life of the stations. The primary purpose of the improvements were to add years to the station's life, CTA Chief Infrastructure Officer Chris Bushell said at the CTA Board meeting on October 15, 2014.7 This approach was similar to renovations CTA made to seven north Red Line stations in 2012, which also did not include accessibility improvements -- there, CTA stated they needed to quickly address much needed capital maintenance work and improve the quality and experience for riders and neighbors, but did not rule out accessibility improvements in the future.

The CTA noted that Damen station specifically presents two more particular challenges to being made accessible. One is that stations that are landmarked have more restrictions on what alterations can be made -- although careful planning and good design can mitigate this issue, it is another factor to contend with. Perhaps more critically for Damen is the additional challenge of the station being surrounded by other landmark buildings, making any demolitions or modifications necessary to assemble the space required for adding elevators and widening platforms to ADA-compliant widths all the more difficult. In an Illinois Accessibility Task Force report before the 2014 project, four concepts were developed for making the Damen station accessible, but the report stated that "all four Damen Station schemes are highly complex and require additional analysis to further develop' plans".8 If an elevator were to be installed, it would require the acquisition of real estate adjacent to the platform because there would need to be an elevator on both sides of the tracks and the platform is not wide enough to fit an elevator, according to CTA Vice President of Construction Bob Wittmann. Catherine Hosinski, a CTA spokeswoman, said "there would need to more time to analyze the situation and more funding" if an elevator were to be added.9

 

Rehabilitation Construction

The interior of the Damen station house is seen during the renovation, gutted down to its structural shell, on October 29, 2014. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The Damen station closed October 20, 2014 to allow construction to take place. The CTA provided additional #56 Milwaukee bus service during the closure on weekday morning and evening rush periods. In addition, "owl'' service was added during overnight hours to link Damen to the closest stations in either direction in place of overnight Blue Line service.

At 9am, Monday, October 13, a week before the station closed, the North Avenue auxiliary exit from the O'Hare-bound platform was closed to allow the contractor, FH Paschen, to begin performing preliminary construction work there. In addition to the exit itself, access to approximately 145 feet of the north end of the platform was removed from service, though this was used as a walkway and not as allowable berthing area due to its curvature, so there was no effect on the ability of 8-car trains to fully berth in the station.

While construction was underway, a gas line was struck in front of the Damen L" station late Saturday, November 29, causing some nearby businesses to close a few hours early on what was already a slower-than-usual night due to the holiday weekend. There were no injuries or damages related to the incident, which happened around 11:10pm Saturday, when contractors who were digging in front of the station "struck a one-inch low pressure gas line," said Catherine Hosinski, a CTA spokeswoman.10

By the beginning of December, the new roof on the station house was complete, and the new cement plaster walls were being completed on the interior of the building. The restoration of the south window on the front elevation was complete as well. A new concrete plaza was poured in front of the station house not long after.

Damen station reopened at 4am, Monday, December 22, 2014.

 

Damen station platforms are seen looking northwest on December 22, 2014, the day the station reopened after a two-month renovation. The vintage facility displays a charming ambiance, thanks to its historic character and the surrounding attractive, trendy Wicker Park neighborhood. The station's original canopies and railings lend it a high level of design integrity. In the background is the Art Deco-style Northwest Tower Building, popularly known as the Coyote Building. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)


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The long track-level walkway leading from the north end of the inbound Damen platform, through the Damen Tower, and along the tracks to the Humboldt shuttle platform is seen here looking west circa 1951. (Photo from the Chicago Transit Authority Collection)

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The final variation of the PCC "L" car color scheme is represented here on cars 41 and 42 seen at Damen on June 26, 1960, while on a Central Electric Railfans' Association (CERA) fantrip. The cars are equipped with trolley poles for their impending assignment to the Evanston Line (which didn't switch to third rail until 1973). Single unit cars served the Milwaukee Line until 1970. (Photo by Ray DeGroote)

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Looking up the central staircase from the back of the station house, the mezzanine landing where passengers split to go to separate stairs to the inbound and outbound platforms is seen on December 21, 1960. The transfer stamp machine at the landing is for exiting passengers transferring to a connecting bus route -- transfer regulations at the time required the transfer be made not only within a limited about of time but only to eligible connecting lines, requiring the passenger to stamp the paper transfer when leaving the station with the time and station name to provide validation for the bus operator to check. Note the old-style, possible original Metropolitan Elevated-era, "To THE CITY" and "From THE CITY" signs. (CTA photo, from the Graham Garfield Collection)
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The swinging doors to the stairway to the platforms are seen behind the ticket agent booth inside the Damen station house on December 21, 1960. The board above the door with eight light bulbs and a bell in the center is an annunciator, which lights up and dings when a train is approaching. The door on the right was part of a built-in newsstand when the station opened in 1895, but is a storage room at the time of the photo. (CTA photo, from the Graham Garfield Collection)
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The ticket agent at Damen is inside her booth, awaiting the next passenger to enter on December 21, 1960. The ticket agent's booth lane has no turnstile or other positive fare control -- this was not atypical for many older "L" stations into the 1960s and '70s. The doors in the background lead to the bay at the front of the station -- this originally functioned as a vestibule, with doors on the exterior as well as on the interior. The interior doors were later removed. (CTA photo, from the Graham Garfield Collection)

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Car 6516 leads a Congress-Milwaukee "A" train at Damen on August 21, 1970. Note the Identra Coil on the lower left side of 6516. A 2200-series train passes on the other track. (Photo by Joe Testagrose)

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Car 6600 trails a four-car Douglas-Milwaukee "B" train at Damen/Milwaukee on October 5, 1972. Compare this photo to this picture of it at Fullerton in 1993, shortly before it went to the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine the next year. Note the ornamental platform lights that date back to the station's opening in 1895. (Photo by Steve Zabel, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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Car 2635 trails a four-car Douglas-Milwaukee "B" train at Damen/Milwaukee on December 1, 1982. The 2600-series cars are brand new at this point and are still cutting their teeth in revenue service. (Photo by Doug Grotjahn, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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A four-car Douglas-Milwaukee "B" train is trailed by new 2600-series car 2660 at Damen on September 1, 1982. The route would not be extended from Jefferson Park for another year. (Photo by Doug Grotjahn, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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The Damen station platforms are seen looking southeast in 1985 as a train trailed by a Budd 2200-series car pulls away from the station into the distance. Aside from the advertisements and signage, and the platform extensions in the distance added in the 1930s, the canopies and platform environment have changed little since being built. (CTA photo)
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An 8-car train of 6000-series cars in various paint schemes -- 1960s-era mint green and alpine white on the end units, and the newer 1980s-era silver and charcoal with red, white and blue accents "Spirit of Chicago" scheme on the middle units -- pull into Damen station on June 25, 1986. This West-Northwest "B" train is heading toward O'Hare, but will make its last stop one station early, at River Road. The train is probably scheduled to lay up in the yard after it finishes its trip. (Photo by Bruce Moffat)
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The Damen station is seen looking southeast towards downtown, with the Loop skyline in the background, in 1993. Damen Tower is in the foreground on the right, while the walkway from the outbound platform to the North Avenue auxiliary exit is on the left. The station has a tired appearance, with graffiti in evidence in several places. (Photo by John Smatlak)
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Commuters cross Damen Avenue -- probably having come off the bus that is just in view on the extreme right -- heading toward the Damen station house, looking west in 1996. While the historic Queen Anne-influenced station house is shrouded in shadow below, the original 1895 platform and canopy are bathed in sunlight above. (Photo by John Smatlak)
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The historic Damen station house is seen under the elevated structure looking northwest across Damen Avenue in 1996. The building had been refurbished the year before for the 100th Anniversary of the Metropolitan Elevated. (Photo by John Smatlak)

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The bay entrances to the historic Damen station, looking west on Damen Avenue in 1999. The bay was reconstructed circa 1995, with the brickwork significantly lighter and somewhat different than on the rest of the front facade. (CTA photo)

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Cars 2219-2220 pull into Damen/Milwaukee in June of 2000. Note that the hopper windows are open, indicating that the A/C is not working in that car. (Photo by Eric Zabelny)

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John Craib-Cox of the Chicago Design Consortium discusses the engineering of the historic elevated structure outside the Damen/Milwaukee station house on the 2nd Annual Historic Station Tour on November 19, 2000. (Photo by Linda Garfield)

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Graham Garfield explains a bit about the structure's history outside Damen as 2nd Annual Historic Station Tour tourgoers listen attentively on November 19, 2000. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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The 2nd Annual Historic Station Tour group looks around the northbound platform at Damen on November 19, 2000. The iron-frame canopy, with arched latticed supports, bracketed rafters, and hipped roofs originally of corrugated tin is typical of standard Metropolitan Elevated platforms. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The 2nd Annual Historic Station Tour group gathers for a few more words on the southbound Damen platform while waiting for the charter train to return for the trip back downtown and to the Paulina Connector. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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A Loop-bound Blue Line train, led by car 2993, pulls around Damen Tower and into Damen station on September 3, 2001. The long platform on the outbound side (right) leads to an auxiliary exit to North Avenue, with the small canopy over the rotogate. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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An O'Hare-bound train, with rehabbed car 3125 at the rear, leaves Damen/Milwaukee station, heading around the small S-curve north of Damen Tower, on its way north on September 3, 2001. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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A Forest Park-bound Blue Line train, with car 3138 trailing at the rear, stops at Damen on its way downtown, before continuing on to the West Side and west suburbs, looking southeast on September 3, 2001. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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Unrehabbed 2600-series car 3151 leads a northbound Blue Line train stopped at Damen station on September 3, 2001. Up ahead, in front of the train, the short canopy over the platform's auxiliary exit at North Avenue is visible. The slatted gate can be opened for entrance, but is never used as such in regular service. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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Rehabbed car 3046 brings up the rear of an O'Hare-bound Blue Line train stopping at Damen, looking northwest on Saturday, January 12, 2002. The new cars provide a sharp contrast to the old Wicker Park transit station. (Photo by Bob Fitzpatrick)

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The historic Damen station, looking northwest on October 23, 2003. The station dates from the opening of the Metropolitan "L" in 1895, although the front bay was reconstructed, revealed by its brick being lighter than the rest of the station's. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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CTA maintenance personnel grind and sand the canopy and support of the northbound canopy at Damen on October 23, 2003. The railing panels, with their diamond ornamentation, have already been stripped and primed. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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A sheet metal worker sands the old paint off a canopy post at Damen on October 23, 2003. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Although the front bay of the Damen station house was modified in the 1990s, most of the rest of the exterior remains in original condition. The east elevation, for instance, still has its rusticated brickwork, stone sills, decorative cornice, and double-hung windows, seen on October 26, 2003. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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One of the charming things about Damen station was that it was only one of a couple stations to still retain its incandescent gooseneck light fixtures. Although three original Metropolitan Elevated-style fixtures remain, most were the generic type seen here on October 26, 2003 that were popular on all the elevated lines. These were removed in 2011. Historic Damen station fits in well with the rest of the Wicker Park Historic District, including the Art Deco-style Northwest Tower Building -- popularly known as the Coyote Building -- rising in the background. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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The mezzanine landing where passengers choose between stairs to the inbound and outbound platforms is seen looking southwest on October 23, 2003. Although rehabbed in 1995, the space still is generally the same as when it was built in 1895. Metropolitan Elevated stations typically had their stairways enclosed from the back of the station house to this mezzanine level, where sets of doors led to the stairs to each platform. The artwork was added during or after the 1995 rehab, though the three square spaces filled with artwork on the right were always present in the wall, probably originally windows but filled in at least as early as 1960. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The Damen station house interior is seen looking northeast in the unpaid area on October 23, 2003. The interior retains a high degree of historic integrity at this point, with the floors and woodwork largely intact and original. The interior of the station was rehabilitated in 1995 for the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Elevated, contributing to its relatively good condition here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The interior of Damen station, seen here on October 26, 2003, has a number of historic features including hardwood floor, a historic agent's booth, and incandescent lights. The paint scheme is likely not historically accurate, but it nonetheless pleasing. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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The tour group assembles in front of Damen station as guides Graham Garfield and John Craib-Cox discuss the design of the station and the neighborhood during the 5th Annual Historic "L" Station Tour on October 26, 2003. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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The tour participants are gathered in front of the Damen station in Wicker Park while local residents in the neighborhood walk by during the 5th Annual Historic "L" Station Tour on October 26, 2003. The restaurant and bar behind the tour group, called The Blue Line, has an exterior design that references the steel elevated structure at its front door. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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Tour guides Graham Garfield (left) and John Craib-Cox (right) discuss station design and history, neighborhood background, and the 19th century industrial design of the steel elevated structure over the group at Damen station during the 5th Annual Historic "L" Station Tour on October 26, 2003. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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Tour guide John Craib-Cox talks about the industrial construction methods of the day on the platform at Damen station while under the light of an original 1895 platform light of the type that the Metropolitan Elevated used at its station during the 5th Annual Historic "L" Station Tour on October 26, 2003. By 2003, only three of these lights remained anywhere on the system; all three are at Damen station. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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Tour guide Graham Garfield points up at the short canopy over the auxiliary exit to North Avenue at the north end of the outbound platform at Damen station at tour participants watch, listen and walk down during the 5th Annual Historic "L" Station Tour on October 26, 2003. Garfield explained how the canopy and exit were installed by the CTA to provide a direct transfer to the North Avenue Limited express bus service. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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Damen station, seen looking northwest on October 16, 2005, displays a charming ambiance, thanks to its historic character and the surrounding attractive, trendy Wicker Park neighborhood. A northbound Blue Line train is pulling out of the station, with its original canopies and railings and one of only two stations left with shepherd's crook lights with incandescent bulbs. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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An inbound Blue Line train is departing Damen station in this view looking southeast on October 16, 2005. Much of the original station fabric is still present. The canopies are original, although the roofing was renewed in Fall 2003. The railings are original, and one of the few original Metropolitan Elevated light fixtures anywhere on the "L" system is visible on the left. The station name signs had recently been installed at the time of the photo. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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In Fall 2005, the CTA began replacing the 1980s KDR-style platform signage with Green Line Graphic Standard station name signs and symbol signs. On each platform, south of the stairs, reproductions of symbol signs for Damen from the 1950s and 1980s were also installed, seen at left on October 16, 2005. These installations created a sort of homage to the lineage of the symbol sign, and demonstrated the evolution of the design of that particular sign type over a period of 50 years. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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A short one-bay canopy greets passengers exiting the outbound Damen platform from the auxiliary exit to the north side of North Avenue, looking northwest on September 1, 2007. The exit rotogate is on a bump-out from the platform, with an access gate (locked, under normal conditions) occupying the end of the platform. The canopy design is of the type used by the Chicago Elevated Railways and Chicago Rapid Transit companies from the 1910s through the 1930s, though this one was built with the platform extension in 1951 by CTA. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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One of three remaining original Metropolitan Elevated light fixtures at Damen, this light pole and fixture are at the far north end of the inbound platform, just before the tower, looking west on September 1, 2007. It is likely, given the clumsiness of the connection, that the poles originally had a different shade fixture on the end, with this one -- typical of shepherd's crook lights installed all over the "L" after the turn of the 20th century -- retrofit on later. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Another of the three original 1895 Metropolitan Elevated light poles on the Damen platforms is located immediately southeast of the one above, also on the inbound platform, seen looking southeast on September 1, 2007. Interestingly, to accommodate the installation of a large electrical cabinet, the pole was turned around so that the gooseneck pointed in the other direction, rather than just removing the pole altogether. An interesting choice, but one that luckily, preserved the fixture! (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The bicycle parking room, built as an addition to the back of the station at mezzanine level by CDOT in 2008, is seen looking southwest on September 4, 2010. High-capacity racks are also available, just out of view to the right. Access to the bike room from the mezzanine was provided by removing the center section of the original rear wall of the landing of the stairways to the platforms. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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A detail view of one of the new platform light standards installed at Damen in Spring 2012, seen on May 9. 2012. While modern in terms of materials and components, the fixtures make a good effort to evoke the feel of the historic lights. The poles are unpainted steel and bent into a shepherd's crook, and although the pole is taller and the bend slightly "square-r" than the ones they replaced, the overall impression is consistent with the historic poles. Rather than the two or three incandescent bulbs of the originals, the light is a single bulb enclosed in a glass cover surrounded by a metal cage-type protector, covered by a saucer-shaped white metal shade. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The three original 1895 light fixtures remain at Damen, two at the north end of the inbound platform -- seen here on May 9, 2012 -- and one just north of the canopy on the outbound platform. These light standards -- original to the station's 1895 opening and even older than the historic light poles removed in 2011 -- are identifiable by their design: integrated into the railing design, the light posts extended above the railing and formed a fluted pole with a decorative capital onto which a gooseneck light fixture with a porcelain saucer-shaped shade with two or three incandescent light bulbs was attached. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Damen station, seen looking northwest on May 9, 2012, displays a charming ambiance, thanks to its historic character and the surrounding attractive, trendy Wicker Park neighborhood. The station's original canopies and railings lend it a high level of design integrity, and while the lights are replacements their shape and design keep them in context with the station. In the background is the Art Deco-style Northwest Tower Building, popularly known as the Coyote Building. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The historic Damen station, looking northwest on May 9, 2012. The station dates from the opening of the Metropolitan "L" in 1895, although the front bay was reconstructed, revealed by its brick being lighter than the rest of the station's. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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This May 9, 2012 view looks northwest up the platform-level walkway from the O'Hare-bound platform to the North Avenue auxiliary exit. Although built like a platform, trains cannot berth here due to the curvature of the walkway. The short canopy at the exit and rotogate can be seen in the distance. After all the other lights on the platforms had been replaced with new, modern gooseneck fixtures, this walkway retained its older incandescent gooseneck lights until the station's 2014 renovation. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Looking up from the sidewalk, a unique view through the platform stringers and joists clear through to the historic canopy framework becomes possible with the wood decking removed, seen on October 29, 2014. Taking the platform down to just the steel structure always for a thorough inspection, repairs to be made, more complete priming and painting, as well as easier installation of new electrical and communications conduits. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The front of the Damen station house is seen on October 29, 2014 during renovation construction. Plywood inside protects the windows during construction. Bracing on the side belays that the interior finishes and roof have been removed, leaving just the exterior masonry walls of the building left standing. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Signage on the corner of Damen and Milwaukee warns intending passengers of the station's closure before they make the walk a half-block down Damen away from the #56 bus (the most likely alternate service option), as well as provides direction to the nearest #56 stops in each direction, seen on October 29, 2014. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The North Avenue auxiliary exit from Damen station is seen under renovation, looking west on North Avenue on October 29, 2014. Only the portion right at the exit and a short distance before actually had a steel support framework; the remainder of the walkway back to the boarding area of the platform merely had wood stringers and bracing. The 1951-installed steel is in the midst of being primed and repainted. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The stairway from the mezzanine landing to the back of the station house is seen in a state of disassembly during the station's renovation on October 29, 2014. The enclosure around the staircase was a wood-framed structure, with much of the wood framework needing replacement or repair as part of the rehabilitation. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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With the roof of the Damen station house removed, a unique view inside from above becomes possible during the renovation work on October 29, 2014. Stripped to its structural shell, repairs and improvements can be made to the structure before a new roof is added and interiors built-out, which will provide better seal against water infiltration and other issues, and a longer life for the building. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The Damen station platforms, stripped down to their bare steel structures for renewal, are seen looking southeast on the inbound side as a Blue Line train heads toward the subway in the distance on October 29, 2014. Note how far below where the decking would be the canopy support posts actually extend. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The Damen platforms and canopy frames, under renovation, are seen looking northwest on October 29, 2014, with the locally-well known Coyote Building in the background. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The Damen platforms are under renovation on October 29, 2014, looking northwest. The platforms have been stripped down to their steel structure to allow for renovation from the base up, except for a portion at the north end of the inbound platform with electrical cabinets. The tower building at the end of the platform also received some masonry repairs and other renovations. The crew at track level are providing flagging protection for workers ahead down the platform. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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An O'Hare-bound Blue Line train is approaching, passing through the closed Damen station without stopping, on October 29, 2014. On the inbound platform, note where the steelwork changes from a lattice-type support system to a closed stringer -- this shows where the original 1895 section of the platform transitions to the 1931 platform extension beyond. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The stairs to the outbound platform at Damen station are seen while under refurbishment, looking northwest on October 29, 2014. The gray/silver paint is a primer. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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A construction contractor mason installs new bricks and mortar just under the parapet on the inside of the front exterior wall of the Damen station house during the station's renovation, on October 29, 2014. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The Damen station is seen while closed and under rehabilitation, looking south on October 29, 2014. The station platforms and canopies are just skeletons, stripped down to their structures to allow a complete refurbishment. The steel is in the process of being primed as evidenced by the gray/silver surfaces before being repainted the CTA's standard butterscotch/tan color. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Having been refurbished and repaired where needed, the elevated track structure over Damen Avenue, in front of the Damen station house, is being primed and repainted in this view looking northwest on October 29, 2014. Part of the street is blocked, and the sidewalk traffic diverted into the street (behind the barriers), to give the construction contractors more room in front of the station to work, as well as better access to the structure overhead. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Rehabilitation of the building shell having been completed, work is underway to install new interior finishes in this December 4, 2014 view. Conduits stub up from the newly-laid floor, while new cement-plaster walls and ceiling are in the process of being installed. The three windows along the southwest wall were bricked up several years before and are not being reopened, but window frames that replicate the originals will be installed to provide a more complete historically restored look inside the station house. (CTA photo)
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Work to restore the window on the south side of the front bay, which had been opened up into an additional doorway some time before the CTA era, is nearly complete. Original rusticated bricks from the back side of the building have been relocated to the front to fill in the missing portion of the wall with masonry that will match the rest. A new stone sill for the bottom of the window will soon follow. The concrete plaza in front of the station was poured the next day. (CTA photo)
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The rehabilitation of the Damen station exterior is largely complete, in this view looking northwest on December 17, 2014. Finishing touches are being put on the rehabbed bay roof and its copper coping and downspouts. Boards and saws out in front are being used to cut paneling to complete work on the interior. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Work is nearly complete on the renovated Damen station interior, with the new plaster walls and ceiling, windows, lighting, wainscotting and granite baseboards all complete in this December 17, 2014 view looking north. Work still remains to be completed on the wood window frames, chair rail and other details, however, which are being attended to by the tradesman working on the floor. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Finishing touches are being attended to inside the new Customer Assistant kiosk as Damen station's renovation nears completion in this December 17, 2014 view looking west inside the renovated station house. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The renovated platforms at Damen are nearly ready, in this view looking northwest on December 17, 2014. The canopies, decking and new gooseneck lights are largely complete, and most of the railings have been installed. Finishing work continues, including installing the remaining railing sections, some historic lighting and other smaller items. Signage installation is just beginning; the tactile edging on the platform still remains to be done. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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As a Forest Park-bound Blue Line train passes at reduced speed through the work zone on December 17, 2014, contractors busily work to complete the station for its opening less than a week later. A few decking planks still need to be installed, and several sections of historic, refurbished railing still need to be installed at the north end of the platforms. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The three original, 1895 Metropolitan Elevated light posts, salvaged from the station before renovation, and refurbished and restored for reuse in the rehabbed facility, sit on the inbound platform awaiting installation on December 17, 2014. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The renovated walkway from the O'Hare-bound platform to the North Avenue auxiliary exit is nearly complete, seen looking west on December 17, 2014. The wood stringers and bracing that used to support the section visible on the left has been replaced with steel. The lights and railing frame are installed; only some railing panels remain to be installed. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The Damen station platform is seen spanning Damen Avenue looking southwest on December 22, 2014, the day the station reopened after renovation. A CTA Identifier on the elevated track structure providing remote station identity for potential customers looking from a distance, the restored historic station house is visible under the structure while the vintage platform canopies and railings above tie together the look of the historic facility. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Reproductions of the vintage porcelain enamel signs found on the doors of older "L" stations, installed by CTA's predecessors, are one of the detail touches in the restoration of the Damen station, seen on December 22, 2014. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The new, reproduction decorative wood window and door moldings and wainscoting inside the restored Damen station is seen looking south in the unpaid area toward the front bay/portico on the day the station reopened after rehab, on December 22, 2014. Although the original designs were used to reproduce the woodwork, there were some changes made in the renovation. For instance, the doorway between the front vestibule bay and the station interior was originally two doorways with a small section of wall in between; in the renovation, it was opened up to become one large, wider doorway, although the enclosed column beyond it remained, as it provides support for the track structure above. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The renovated interior of the Damen station is seen on reopening day, December 22, 2014, after the rehab work was completed. While gutted and refinished, the decorative woodwork -- including the wainscoting and chair rail, doors, door and window frames, and picture rail -- replicate or closely approximate the original carpentry. Some modern touches incorporated into the rehabilitated interior include more durable granite floors replacing the wood floors, a new ceiling with recessed lights, a granite baseboard on the wainscoting for better durability, and digital signs that include train arrival times. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Looking west inside the rehabbed Damen station on December 22, 2014, the new customer assistant's booth, clad in stainless steel, is visible a front corner of the station interior. Moving it to the corner helped open up more of the station's small footprint for passenger circulation. The heat lamp outside the booth helps provide extra warmth for the station staff when they stand outside during rush periods. On the wall in the background is a historic display about the station in a set of windows that were bricked over outside but cosmetically restored inside. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The three windows on the southwest elevation that were bricked up decades ago were left sealed in the Damen station renovation, but the wood window moldings and mullions were restored to give the restored interior a more complete and authentic look. Since the window "looks out" onto a solid brick wall, the glass was used for a historic display about the station, with reproductions of the architectural drawings for the station's signature platform canopies and railings and information about the station's history and architecture, seen on December 22, 2014. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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In the mezzanine landing on the stairway to the platforms, display cases were provided in the renovation where there had originally been windows (which were covered several decades before the 2014 renovation). Seen on December 22, 2014, the cases display early photos of the station house (left) and the platforms with a Baldie 4000-series train, and flank the doorway (cut in in 2008, where there had originally been a solid wall and third window space) to the bike storage room whose high-capacity racks can be seen beyond. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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In the renovation of the Damen station, the central stairway from the rear of the station house to the mezzanine landing was completely refinished with new full-height tongue-in-groove panelling on the walls. Where there had originally been windows, cases were provided to display graphics or artwork -- seen on reopening day, December 22, 2014, they were outfitted with historic photos and images. The original Met "L" stairs were retained, with their decorative elements on the risers, and refurbished. The metal angles along the sides of the stairs let passengers roll their bicycles up the stairs easily to the bike storage room on the mezzanine. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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One of the display cases on the Damen station stairway, seen on December 22, 2014, displays a reproduction of an early 1900s advertising postcard depicting the Milwaukee-North-Damen six corners commercial district, including the "L" station; the panel includes interpretive text as well. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The renovated stairway mezzanine at Damen station, with its brand-new full-height wood wall paneling, granite baseboards, new ceiling and lighting, and display cases, are seen looking southwest on December 22, 2014, toward the doorway out to the stairs to the inbound platform. A directional line diagram sign for passenger wayfinding is visible in the distance. The stairs down to the left lead to the station house; the door on the right leads to the bike parking room. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Looking out from the mezzanine bike parking room, the rehabilitated mezzanine and stairway down to the station house is seen looking southeast on December 22, 2014, with the station house interior visible beyond. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The bicycle parking room on the mezzanine level of Damen station is seen looking northwest on December 22, 2014. The two-level high-capacity bike racks are along the back wall, while more typical racks line the foreground. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Looking up the stairs to the outbound platform from the mezzanine level on December 22, 2014, the day the station reopened after renovation, many of the decorative details the Metropolitan Elevated designed into their stations are evident. The railings display the Met's large cast iron square plates with a stylized diamond design in the middle, and the twisted metal straps topped by a row of arched, half-circle metal straps. The stair risers feature a raised panel pattern cast along their length. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The renovated Damen platforms are seen looking northwest from the far southeast end of the O'Hare-bound platform on reopening day, December 22, 2014. Features installed in the renovation include the new railings, lighting, benches, trashcans, signage, wood decking, and tactile edging. The platforms are narrower here because the far ends of the platforms are extensions added to the station in the 1930s, and contained within the property already owned by the railroad. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The renovated Damen station platforms are seen looking northwest as a Forest Park-bound train passes the tower and enters the station on December 22, 2014. The refurbished historic station canopies are visible in the background, with new windbreak shelters added in the renovation visible in front of the canopies. Note that the railings in this part of the platform around the canopies are also original to the station's 19th century construction. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The underside of the original 1895 canopies at the Damen station, with their latticed supports and hipped metal roofs characteristic of Met "L" stations, are seen looking northwest on the outbound platform on December 22, 2014, reopening day after the station renovation. The steelwork was stripped, any necessary metalwork repairs made, and repainted, and a new roof a gutter system installed. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The renovated Damen station platforms are seen looking southwest on December 22, 2014. The historic buildings framing the platforms in the background provide an appropriate backdrop for the vintage station, with its original 1895 canopies and railings. The two light fixtures on the far right are two of the three original Met "L" light posts left anywhere on the "L" system. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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When Damen station closed for renovation, three original 1895 Met "L" light poles remained at the station, and were retained, refurbished and reinstalled in the rehabbed facility. All three were reinstalled together, at the far north end of the inbound platform. Two of the three are visible here, looking south across the tracks from the outbound platform, on reopening day, December 22, 2014. The third is on the other side of the windbreak, on the left, out of view. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Two of the three original Met "L" light posts are seen restored and reinstalled at Damen station, looking south at the far north end of the southbound platform on December 22, 2014. The Met originally designed the platform lights to be mounted to poles which were integrated into the railing system; indeed, they were basically tall extensions of the railing posts. The lower portion below the handrail had a decorative pattern cast into the front face, while above the handrail the square pole was fluted on all four sides, ending in a decorative capital. A gooseneck curved up and over the platform from this capital, to which a luminaire was attached to its base. The lights installed on the poles are not historic replicas, but are rather the same modern LED fixtures used elsewhere at the station but chosen for their design that is compatible with the period look. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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A detail view along the restored historic railings on the inbound Damen platform, looking northwest on December 22, 2014, show the repeating pattern of square plates with a stylized diamond design in the middle, with twisted metal straps and a row of arched bands along the top, used by the Metropolitan Elevated at their stations. The new light poles installed in the renovation were integrated into the railing system, as the original ones were, to provide a look more evocative of the original configuration. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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This view on the Damen station southbound platform on December 22, 2014 shows the design of the original Metropolitan "L" railing design, preserved and restored at the renovated station. The railings feature large cast iron square plates with a stylized diamond design in the middle, with twisted metal straps in an X configuration in between and topped by a row of arched, half-circle metal straps. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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A comparison between the original 1895 railings and the new railings installed as part of the 2014 station renovation can be made in this view looking across the tracks at the Damen station inbound platform on December 22, 2014. The new railings are designed to blend well and be sympathetic to the original design, but not copy it, so that it is clear what is historic and what is new but without the two clashing with one another. The new railings use a simpler version of the diamond pattern in the original Met railing panels. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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As part of the renovation of the Damen station, the tower building at the north end of the inbound platform also received some improvements. Seen looking west on December 22, 2014, the structure received new windows and doors, new cladding on the fascia under the windows and on the canopy on the projecting window bay, and cleaning and tuckpointing of the masonry. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The refurbished Damen Tower building -- never actually used an interlocking tower, despite its design and intended function -- is seen on December 22, 2014, looking southeast with the inbound Damen station platform behind. The exterior received some improvements such as masonry repairs and cleaning and new windows as part of the renovation of the station. The door that was on the northwest face of the tower -- through which passengers walked on their way to the track-level walkway to the Humboldt Park branch shuttle platform between 1951 and 1954 -- visible in earlier photos, was removed in the renovation and replaced with a glazed block window, the space underneath filled in with bricks. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The narrow walkway connecting the O'Hare-bound platform at Damen to the auxiliary exit at North Avenue is seen looking north on December 22, 2014, reopening day after the station's renovation, with the short canopy over the exit rotogate visible in the left distance. Although it primarily serves as a walkway, about a car and a half of 8-car trains actually berth on this section as well. Since this is the only part of either platform that is between two different exits, it is the only section where the station name sign tabs have exit information in them. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The walkway from the outbound Damen station platform to the North Avenue auxiliary exit is shown looking northwest on December 22, 2014, with the Milwaukee Elevated tracks extending off into the distance. The walkway was added in 1951 to facilitate transfers to the North Avenue bus. Because it was grafted onto the existing structure and built environment, and was built economically, the walkway had to negotiate existing obstructions, such as adjacent buildings. Seen here are two places where the adjacent buildings are so close to the elevated track structure that they create "pinch points" on the walkway. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The exit rotogate at the Damen station North Avenue auxiliary exit is seen on December 22, 2014. The metal rotogate itself was replaced with a new stainless steel model in the renovation, but the canopy dates from the exit's 1951 construction (and has a design based on those used by the predecessor CER and CRT companies from the 1910s through the 1930s) and was refurbished in the station's fall 2014 renovation. The walkway gets wider toward the exit, probably in part simply because the open space over the street allows it to, but also providing more space for passengers queuing to exit out through the rotogate. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The North Avenue auxiliary exit from Damen station is seen looking east on North Avenue on December 22, 2014. The short canopy at the end of the walkway is visible peaking up above the track structure, while the stairway down to the sidewalk is visible under the structure on the left. This stairway was built as a way to facilitate transfers to the North Avenue bus to discourage use of the Humboldt Park branch "L" service, which parallel North Avenue. It worked, and a North Avenue Limited bus service replaced the Humboldt service in 1954. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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A westward view out North Avenue from the intersection with Damen and Milwaukee avenues shows the Blue Line Milwaukee Elevated passing overhead and the North Avenue auxiliary exit from Damen station, on December 22, 2014. Lights and railings line the walkway ending in a short canopy covering and small rotunda covering an exit rotogate to control access. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The Damen station is a prominent fixture of the Wicker Park neighborhood, seen spanning Damen Avenue looking south from the Damen-North-Milwaukee six corners intersection at the heart of the community on December 29, 2014. The restored historic canopy and railings of the outbound platform are visible from the street. The CTA Identifier on the track structure, over the street, provides wayfinding identification for the station, especially at night when it is illuminated. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The south side of the Damen station's front elevation, where the exterior wall was restored in the station's renovation, is seen looking northwest on December 29, 2014. This window was replaced with a doorway sometime prior to the mid-1940s, by removing the sill and bricks below the window and installing doors. Locked and out of service for decades, the doors were removed and window restored in the stations renovation in fall 2014 to return the wall to a more authentic, historically-accurate appearance. A new stone sill matching the one on the other side of the station front was fabricated and installed, while the replacement bricks were actually sourced from the rear of the building where they cannot be seen and would not be missed, but here help to assure that the bricks are completely the same as the others on the front -- manufacturing new bricks that matched the historic ones would be difficult and unlikely to match 100%. The white-ish coloring on the replacement bricks is called efflorescence, a crystalline deposit that can form on surfaces of masonry, stucco or concrete. It can occur when brick, especially the surfaces not intended to face the elements, is exposed to water or excessive humidity, bringing salts to the surface that are not commonly bound as part of the cement stone. As the water evaporates, it leaves the salt behind, which forms a white, fluffy deposit, that can normally be brushed off. It is an aesthetic issue, not a structural one, and can simply occur when bricks are moved and their sides and back are exposed to moisture. As long as they are well-sealed in their new installation, it is not typically an ongoing issue. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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This detail view of the portico/bay on the front of the Damen station house shows the details of the historic architectural design, seen on December 29, 2014. Details of note include the carved wooden beads flush with the building between the wooden brackets which support the wooden eave over the portico. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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The restored masonry wall on the northeast side of the Damen station house is seen on December 29, 2014. The rusticated brickwork has been cleaned and restored, as has the decorative terra cotta parapet and lattice-pattern cornice. A new terra cotta-colored base was added around the building to provide a better seal around the bottom. The band of windows were rehabilitated and restored in the the renovation to maintain their historic appearance. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Notes:

1. "Your New Blue." CTA website, accessed January 11, 2014.
2.
Hilkevitch, Jon. "Blue Line work means Damen, California stations to close for weeks in September and October," Chicago Tribune. August 11, 2014.
3. Hauser, Alisa, "A Peek Inside Wicker Park's Damen Blue Line 'L' Station Reconstruction." DNAinfo Chicago, October 30, 2014.
4. "CTA Selects Your New Blue Contractor for Damen, Western and California station renovations" CTA press release. February 5, 2014
5. Hauser (Oct 30, 2014), ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Swartz, Tracy. "Damen Blue Line stop to close Monday for 2 months of renovations." Red Eye, October 16, 2014.
8. Hauser, Alisa, "Damen Blue Line Station Overhaul Won't Help Wicker Park Wheelchair Users." DNAinfo Chicago, September 23, 2014.
9. Hauser (Oct 30, 2014), ibid.
10. Hauser, Alisa, "CTA Damen Construction Strikes Gas Line Late Saturday in Wicker Park." DNAinfo Chicago, December 1, 2014.