The Beaux-Arts Gerber-designed Dodge station, looking northeast on March 28, 1925, opening day for the line and station. Note the American flags wrapped around the Doric columns in front of the station and draped on the stairway enclosures on the platform. The short canopy and stair enclosures on the platform show some Prairie School influences, another favorite style of Gerber's. For a larger view, click here. (Photo courtesy of M.D. McCarter, Collection of JJ Sedelmaier Productions)
Dodge Street and Mulford Street, City of Evanston
North Side Division, Skokie branch
Address: 241-245 Dodge Avenue
Established: March 28, 1925
Original Line: North Side Division, Niles Center branch
Previous Names: none
Skip-Stop Type: n/a
History:When the Yellow Line first operated as the Niles Center branch of the Chicago Rapid Transit Company (1925-1948), there were a number of stops between the two terminals. This was one of three stations in Evanston (the others were Ridge and Asbury) on the east-west leg of the Niles Center branch.
The old Dodge station is seen looking southeast on June 11, 1968, 20 years after it closed as an "L" station. All the windows were bricked up to enclose the exterior in solid walls after the building was converted to a commercial space. The platform and canopy are still extant up above, where a Skokie Swift train passes by. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the Scott Greig Collection)
Dodge station's entrance was located on the east side of the street, below the viaduct. While the tracks above carried trains of both the "L" and the North Shore Line interurban, only "L" trains stopped at the station. Designed by Arthur U. Gerber, the station house's front and side elevations, visible from the street, were designed in a style familiar to many "L" riders, resembling stations Gerber designed at Sheridan, South Boulevard, and Central among other locations. The building combined elements of Doric and Beaux Arts designs, executed in terra cotta. Trademark Gerber details included the laurel-framed cartouches, pair of Greek Revival Doric columns framing the entrance, globed lights and the words "Rapid Transit" above the front door in Terra Cotta. The interior was executed in smooth art marble with a spacious fare control area. On the street elevation, two retail spaces were provided on either side of the entrance. Inside, these flanked a corridor that led to the fare controls, which were located at the back of the building.
The platform was of the island variety between the two tracks. 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.
On March 27, 1948, the CTA abandoned service over the Niles Center Line, closing the station and replacing the "L" service with the #97 Skokie bus route. The North Shore Line abandoned their Skokie Valley Route (including the former Niles Center Line "L" tracks) in January 1963, though the Dodge station hadn't been in service since March 1948.
Following the abandonment of the North Shore Line, the CTA began to pursue the reactivation of the tracks as far north as Dempster, the same stretch served by "L" trains between 1925 and 1948. Funded as a "demonstration project" for a duration of two years beginning in April 1964 by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the reestablished service, coined the Skokie Swift, was a nonstop shuttle between Howard at the Chicago city limits and Dempster in Skokie. All of the intermediate stations were to remain closed and local service would continue to be provided by the #97 Skokie bus. Dodge station's demolition wasn't included in the budget of the Skokie Swift's construction (though Main, Oakton, Kostner and East Prairie were), and the station was used until the mid- to late-1970s, housing an electrical supply store called "North Shore Electrical Supply". For years, the station stood boarded and abandoned in disrepair, the stairway sealed. Circa the late 1980s, the station was completely dismantled and the stairway filled with cement.
A New In-fill Station in South Evanston
Discussion of adding local stations between Howard and Dempster began almost immediately after the Skokie Swift began operations in 1964.
Serious study of constructing a new "in-fill" station on the Yellow Line in Evanston resumed in the 2000s, lead primarily by the City of Evanston. In 2007, the City joined the Village of Skokie and the Regional Transportation Authority in a project, the Skokie Swift North Shore Corridor Travel Market Analysis, to examine how to expand the Yellow Line. In addition to identifying major travel patterns and markets that could support a line extension, the study also evaluated three potential new station locations in south Evanston -- at Dodge, Asbury, and Ridge. The study found that depending on location, a new station could expand the total number of work trips served by the Yellow Line by 25 to 45 percent and attract up to 1,000 riders per day, potentially more if the Yellow Line offered direct service to downtown Chicago. However, the study identified no single station location as clearly superior to the others based on the criteria. The study recommended that the relative costs of constructing a station at one or more of the locations be evaluated in an engineering feasibility study to provide clearer direction on a preferred station location(s).1
As recommended by the 2007 study, the City of Evanston initiated the Yellow Line Station Engineering Feasibility Study Project in 2011 to study and determine which location was best suited for a new station. In January 2012, the study identified Asbury as the best location for a new Yellow Line station in south Evanston.2
Ridge was the first location to be eliminated by the committee due to its close proximity to the existing Howard and South Boulevard stations.3
When comparing Dodge and Asbury, officials found that the area around Dodge is less densely populated than Asbury, reducing the potential for walk-in traffic or traffic generators to draw destination ridership. Another key factor against the Dodge station location, officials said, is that the existing 85-year-old bridge over Dodge Avenue would need to be reconstructed to support a new station, adding another $10 million to the capital costs. Dodge, however, garnered more support than Asbury in an online survey, officials said. Of the 426 respondents, 249 preferred Dodge to Asbury, with 51 respondents saying both locations were ideal.4
Officials said the committee would conclude its feasibility study in February 2012 and present its findings to Evanston's City Council for approval. If approved, officials would then need to identify potential funding for a phase one engineering study.5
The only extant remnant of the Dodge station are the crossbeams and angles filling the space between the individual bridge spans that carry each track, which once supported the west end of the island platform. Seen looking west on April 12, 2006, the empty space between the track and underneath the structure east of Dodge Avenue in the foreground, which once housed the east half of the platform and station house, respectively, are also giveaways. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by William Davidson)
After Dodge station closed, the station house was converted to a commercial space. The tenant was the appropriately named North Shore Electrical Supply, sitting under the tracks that formerly carried the North Shore Line interurban. The tracks were reborn as the CTA's Skokie Swift, and car 54, in its Bicentennial paint scheme, passes overhead on July 1, 1977. Though all the windows were bricked over, features like the terra cotta pilasters, cornice, and cartouches and globed light fixtures remained, giving away its heritage. (Photo from the Scott Greig Collection)
The former Dodge station is seen looking north on Dodge Avenue. The station house remains, converted into commercial retail space. Despite the original windows and openings being bricked up, many of its original architectural features remained. The island platform canopy structure up above is still in place, but only as a skeleton -- the roof, stairs, and stairway enclosure have all be stripped away. (Photo from the Graham Garfield Collection)
Thanks to J.J. Sedelmaier for the information on the stations post-1948 status.
1. "About the Project," Yellow Line Station Engineering Feasibility Study. evanstonyellowlinestation.org. Accessed on 22 February 2012.
2. Bullington, Jonathan. "Study points to Asbury for possible Yellow Line station." TribLocal: Evanston. 25 January 2012.