Left: A view of the original 1892 station house at Garfield, looking south on May 6, 2001. This is how the station house appeared just before its closure and replacement by the new, modern facility across the street. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Right: The new modern steel and glass Garfield station house, looking north on July 13, 2001. The new facility opened just a few days later. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Garfield (5500S/300E)
Garfield Boulevard and Prairie Avenue, Washington Park

Service Notes:

Green Line: South Side Elevated

Accessible Station

Park'n'Ride: 117 spaces

Quick Facts:

Address: 319 E. Garfield Boulevard
Established: October 1, 1892
Original Line: South Side Rapid Transit
Previous Names: 55th Street

Skip-Stop Type:

Station (1949-1982)

Station (1982-1993)

Rebuilt: 2000-01
Status: In Use


Above: The Garfield station in 1985. Though covered with a coat of paint, most of the station's original features remain and can be seen through the paint. The decorative polychromatic brickwork on the exterior side walls is clearly evident. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Olga Stefanos)

Below: Close-ups of the rotunda (left) and of the ornamental stamped copper roof cornice. Note that there used to the lights illuminating the underside of the overhang. (Photo by Linda Garfield)

This station's design, drawn up by architect Myron H. Church, is typical of those constructed on the South Side Rapid Transit's "alley 'L'" under the viaducts. The general contractor was Alfred Walcott and the engineering was probably done by R.I. Sloan, chief engineer for the Railroad Company. Constructed of brick with stone sills and foundation, this station, in spite of painting the front of its polychrome brickwork, has survived without significant alterations. The round bay with its broad half-cone roof, the small arched window at the side (now bricked) and the flat terra-cotta cornice with brick frieze display many qualities of the Queen Anne style, with some examples of early Chicago School architecture.

The platform is a wooden deck and treads on a steel structure with a canopy of steel posts supporting a tin roof and are still in place. With the demolition of the original stations at Cottage Grove and King Drive, Garfield Blvd. is the last remaining station dating back to the first "L" line in Chicago, making it the oldest on the entire system.


Green Line and Station Renovation

On February 21, 1993, the South Side Englewood-Jackson Park service, formerly paired with the Howard service and forming the North-South Route, was repaired with the Lake Street service and formed the CTA's new Green Line.

On January 9, 1994, the Green Line closed for a two-year rehabilitation. All stations on the line, including Garfield, closed, with several stops to be replaced with new, modern facilities. The CTA Planning Department found that one thing which many riders complain about is the system's failure to meet their needs, transit-related and otherwise. One solution to that problem the CTA came up with was the construction of what was dubbed "super-stations." The plan was to construct one at Pulaski on the West Side and at 63rd Street (though it wasn't specified where) or perhaps Garfield on the equally depressed South Side. The station was to include many facilities, from a convenience store to a bank branch to a day care center, all to better meet the needs of the riding public. It was also hoped that such stations would serve as magnet for redevelopment in the depressed areas of the West Side. The new Garfield station was scheduled to open by fall of 1996, but it was never built.

The historic Garfield platform, looking north on July 13, 2001. When it is demolished, the last pre-CTA platform on the original route of the South Side Elevated will be gone. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

On September 15th, 1999, the CTA announced its plans to improve the Garfield station with a new station house. This is, at some level, a belated realization of the CTA's plan to construct a new "superstation" here. The new masonry station house at Garfield includes new side platforms and canopies, CA kiosk, new lighting, electrical room, escalator, communication, public address, HVAC systems, and two new elevators for ADA accessibility. Work will also include the removal existing platforms, canopies, stairs, fare control equipment, and kiosk.

By the end of Summer 2000, the steel framework for the new platforms and the concrete elevator shaft towers had been erected. In addition, a foundation had been laid for a new station house on the north side of Garfield Boulevard, across the street from the original facility. Supposedly part of the work will also include the restoration of the existing 1892 station house. However, the CTA has not identified a new use for the historic facility.

The original Garfield station is the oldest station facility on the "L", with the station house and platform dating from 1892 and the platform canopies from the turn of the century. It is perhaps the oldest intact public transit station in the country, according to a report by the Chicago Commission on Landmarks. The CTA plans to demolish the platforms of the old station, but the station house is on its way to becoming a protected city landmark as of December 2000.

A view of the new southbound platform under construction, looking north from the current station in October 2000. CTA workers are visible on the platform. For a larger view, click here.
(Photo by Michael Roegner)

Preliminary landmark status would ensure that any significant changes to the structure would need approval. A final landmark designation must be approved by the City Council and can take more than a year to complete. Landmark status would make it difficult -- though not entirely impossible --for the CTA to demolish the old station. If approved, the station's exterior and the overpass would be deemed landmarks, but the designation would not include the station platform and canopies.

"We want to make sure the building remains," said Deputy Planning Department Commissioner Jim Peters, who oversees landmarks. The CTA "is looking to lease it or making it a second exit for the [new] station." CTA spokeswoman Maria Toscano said the agency would retain the station for a "transit use" yet to be identified.

By April 2001, the masonry station house was largely complete, with work progressing on the escalators, elevators, electrical work, HVAC, drainage and station house roofing. The escalator and stairs were completed and handrails were installed on the platforms. Installation of elevators, roofing, lighting, front station exterior, stairs and electrical and mechanical systems continued through May.

The new station house at Garfield, looking north across Garfield Blvd. on July 13, 2001. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

An era in "L" history passed into being on Monday, July 16, 2001, when the old Garfield station on the Green Line closed and the new station came into service. The historic Garfield station was permanently closed at 1600 hours, at which time the new modern station opened on the north side of Garfield Boulevard.

The new facility includes a new station house at ground level, dual side platforms, elevators for ADA accessibility, and one escalator to the northbound platform (a smart economy move, since there is significantly less southbound riding from Garfield than northbound). The new masonry station house at includes a stainless steel CA kiosk similar to those at Western, UIC-Halsted, and others (this seems to be a new standard design), new lighting, electrical room, escalator, communication, public address, HVAC systems, and two new elevators for ADA accessibility.

Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett, Chicago Transit Authority President Frank Kruesi and 20th Ward Alderman Arenda Troutman officially opened the new CTA Green Line station house at Garfield Boulevard on October 17, 2001, despite having actually opened to the public about three moths ago on Monday, July 16th. Ridership at the Garfield station dropped to 227,118 in 1993 and rose 1.5% to 230,414 in 2000. As of the end of August 2001, 168,807 customers had used the Garfield station.

The exterior of the Garfield station house. Sectional chainlink fencing has been placed around it to discourage vandals. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The CTA has not identified a new use for the historic 1892 station house facility. Work also included the removal existing platforms, canopies, stairs, fare control equipment, and kiosk. The platforms are the last of their kind on the system and while not original to the station, do date from the early years of this century. They were finally demolished in late September 2001. When the platforms were removed, so was an irreplaceable part of "L" history...

After its closure, the station house was put behind a tall sectional chainlink fence to discourage vandalism of the building, whose doors were replaced with utilitarian steel doors for added security. It was given a fresh coat of white and green paint on the exterior in the last week or so. In the rear, the removal of all structures has been complete and thorough; if you did not know there were platforms and stairs here, you would never know by looking now! The rear elevation of the station house is gray cinderblock (clearly not original) and the land behind is simply weeds, dirt, and gravel, also protected by a high chainlink fence.

With no new use identified for the historic station house -- and none seemingly forthcoming from CTA of the City -- it seems destined to sit empty and unused for the foreseeable future, until someone steps forward with a feasible and desirable use for the ornate, historic structure.

A park'n'ride lot with 117 parking spaces was added near the Garfield station in late 2004, funded by the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program and the Illinois Department of Transportation. The Chicago Transit Board, at its monthly meeting on July 2, 2003, approved the contract to build the new facility to provide an additional option for commuters who travel into the Loop each day. The parking lot was built on vacant land located on the west side of the station. Contractor Oakley Construction Company, Inc., of Chicago built the $935,000 project, which was awarded through the competitive bid process. The Chicago Transit Authority broke ground on the new park'n'ride lot on Monday, October 6, 2003.

Amenities of the park'n'ride lot include lighting, canopies to protect customers from the elements, bike racks, landscaping, fencing, and an electronic fare collection system. Standard Parking manages the parking facility for the CTA . For added convenience, a new entrance was built leading directly from the parking lot into the station.

A ribbon-cutting was held for the new lot at 10am September 30, 2004. It opened for passenger use the following day, at 4am, Friday, October 1.


The North-South Route (Temporary) Returns

In 2013, the CTA launched the Red Line South Reconstruction Project, a track renewal project to rebuild the Dan Ryan branch tracks from the bottom up, excavating down to the bottom of the trackbed to rebuild the underground drainage system then installing new ballast, ties, and tracks. Some modest station improvements were also performed. In order to perform the work more quickly and cost-effectively, the CTA closed the Dan Ryan branch for five months while work was performed. During that time, there would be no 'L' service on the Dan Ryan branch south of Roosevelt station.

As part of the alternate service plan for Dan Ryan riders, Red Line trains were rerouted via the old 13th Street Incline from the State Street Subway to the South Side Elevated, where they operated to Ashland/63rd via the South Side Elevated tracks in a pattern reminiscent of the old Howard-Englewood "A" trains of the North-South Route days. Harlem-Cottage Grove Green Line trains continued to operate as well, but due to limited track capacity some Green Line trains from Harlem that would've gone to Ashland/63rd were turned back to Harlem downtown during the weekday rush periods (at Roosevelt in the morning rush and via the Outer Loop in the evening rush).

Free express and limited stop shuttle buses carried "L" passengers from the four closed Dan Ryan stations at 69th, 79th, 87th and 95th to the Garfield station on the South Side elevated, now served by both Red and Green line trains. Operating from approximately 4am to 1am, the shuttles were:

In addition, an sixth shuttle -- the #R55: Dan Ryan Owl Shuttle -- provided station-to-station service between 95th and 63rd, as well as to the Garfield elevated station, during owl (overnight) hours. The #R69, #R79, #R87, and #R95 were non-stop station-to-station shuttles, while the #R63 and #R55 were limited stop shuttles making stops only at the closed Dan Ryan "L" stations. The #R79, #R87, and #95 operated on the Dan Ryan Expressway between their Dan Ryan stations and Garfield Blvd., while the others use local streets.

Entry to the Garfield elevated station was free during the five-month project, whether transferring from a shuttle bus, from a regular CTA bus route, or simply walking up to the station. This was done in order to not penalize customers who must now make several transfers and a multi-modal trip in substitute for Red Line service. Since a large portion of riders who boarded at Dan Ryan "L" stations did so from connecting buses, the assumption was that, while not paying either to ride a shuttle or board at Garfield, most customers would at least pay when boarding their bus of origin which brought them to the Dan Ryan. However, CTA officials knew that some customers -- those who either started their journey on a free shuttle or at Garfield -- would pay no fare for their inbound trip at all, and simply accepted this as both the cost of the project and an additional concession to already-inconvenienced riders.

The biggest changes were needed to the Garfield Green Line station, which had accommodate both Red and Green line trains and, more importantly, be the hub for the bus shuttles serving the closed Dan Ryan stations south of 63rd Street. With so many riders being funneled into the station, and the city’s north-south trunk line now serving the station, daily ridership at Garfield was projected to grow from 1,300 riders to 13,000 riders. In order to meet the demand, a number of modifications were made to the station. A large four-lane bus terminal was constructed on vacant land on the east side of the station, between the elevated structure and Calumet Avenue, to host the #R95, #R87, #R79, #R69, and #R55 shuttles that connected to the station. Built with permanent sewer-connected drainage and asphalt paving with concrete boarding islands, the bus terminal was designed to be retained and converted to a parking lot after the project’s conclusion.

To make bus-train connections easier at Garfield station, and to provide the additional capacity needed, wide new auxiliary stairways were added at the north ends of the platform. Built of heavy, reinforced timbers, the stairs descended to north end of the bus terminal (on the inbound side) and next to the park & ride lot (on the outbound side, with a walkway under the "L" structure to the bus terminal). The canopies cover the stairs extended several feet in front of the bottoms of the stairways to house wide banks of turnstiles, installed for crowd control and passenger counting purposes since no rail fares are being collected at Garfield station -- the turnstiles are set to “free-wheel”. Inside the station house, the fencing and exit rotogate on the west side of the centrally-located Customer Assistant booth were temporarily removed to install an additional bank of turnstiles.

Red Line service to Ashland/63rd began on Sunday, May 19, 2013. Following the five-month track reconstruction and renovation work on the Dan Ryan, Red Line service to 95th resumed at 4am, Sunday, October 20, 2013. At the same time, Red Line service via the South Side Elevated and Englewood branch was annulled and Green Line trains resumed service to Ashland/63rd, alternating between the two 63rd Street terminal branches.

The auxiliary stairs behind the station house and the additional turnstiles inside the station house were removed at the conclusion of the project. The bus terminal was closed, with jersey barrier placed across the driveways and fencing installed around the perimeter. Its conversion into a second park & ride lot was not undertaken until early 2014.

The new platforms at Garfield, looking south on July 13, 2001, a few days before opening. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Garfield symbol sign from before it became an AB station in 1982. (Sign from the collection of Graham Garfield)

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The platform of the original Garfield station, looking south in October 2000. This 100-plus year old platform will be demolished when the new station is completed in 2001. (Photo by Michael Roegner)

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The old Garfield platforms, still in service, looking north on August 16, 2000. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The new Garfield platforms and elevator towers, in the early phases of construction, looking north on August 16, 2000. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The northbound platform of the new Garfield station, looking north from the old platform in October 2000. The steel framework for the new platforms and the concrete elevator shaft towers have been erected by this point. (Photo by Michael Roegner)

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The new Garfield station house, looking north across Garfield Boulevard on May 6, 2001. The design is typical of the architecture used on the rest of the South Side Green Line during the 1994-96 rehab. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The new Garfield station side platforms, looking north from the old platforms on May 6, 2001. They are typical of most new CTA platforms and the elevator towers resemble those used on much of the Green Line. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The interior of the Garfield station house just a few days before opening, on July 13, 2001. Note that the fare control and AVM equipment has not yet been installed. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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This plaque on the original station house on the south side of the boulevard commemorates the station's designation as a local landmark on December 12, 2001. The plaque is seen here on October 17, 2004. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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The IRM PCC charter is trailed by car 22, looking south at the original 1890s Garfield platform on May 6, 2001. Although car 22 bears a sign that was actually used on the line between 1993 and 1994 -- Lake-Englewood "A" -- no 1-50 or 6000-series train ever used it or ran in revenue service on the Green Line. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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A study in contrasts: an in-service Harlem-bound Green Line 2400-series train pulls up beside the IRM chartered 6000/5-50 series train at Garfield on May 6, 2001. The Garfield platforms seen here were closed only a matter of weeks after the photo was taken. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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1-50 series car 22 stops at the old Garfield station while on a IRM fantrip, looking south on May 6, 2001. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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The old side platforms at Garfield after closure, looking south from the newly-opened replacement station platforms. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The same view as above looking south, after the historic platforms were removed. They were demolished with no trace of them left. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The 2001 Historic Station Tour participants are gathered on November 4, 2001 in from of the historic Garfield station -- the oldest on the system and possibly in the US -- which has been closed to passenger traffic for only four months. Although it was not an active station, the CTA had recently given it a new coat of paint (although in its original state, it shouldn't be painted at all). (Photo by Frank Hashimoto)