(7200W/700S) Harlem

(7300W/700S) Circle

Between Harlem Avenue and Circle Avenue, at the Eisenhower Expressway, Village of Forest Park

Service Notes:

Blue Line: Forest Park

Owl Service

Quick Facts:


701 S. Harlem Avenue (Harlem main entrance)

700 S. Circle Avenue (Circle auxiliary entrance)


July 29, 1960 (permanent platform opened with temporary fare controls)

December 27, 1960 (permanent station houses opened)

Original Line: West-Northwest Route, Congress branch
Previous Names: n/a

Skip-Stop Type:


Rebuilt: n/a
Status: In Use


Harlem was nearly identical to every other station built in the Eisenhower Expressway, including an island platform, small station houses on Harlem's overpass containing only a ticket booth and turnstiles and a long, enclosed, sloping passageway/ramp connecting the two.

Each street-level station entrance was identified by a large, electrically illuminated sign (since removed from all Congress stations). This type of advertising was far more proactive than anything posted in front of most stations previously, although this may have been a requirement, in part, necessitated by the removal of the station entrance from the surrounding neighborhood and its isolation in the middle of the expressway, coupled with the invisibility of the tracks and trains themselves, hidden in the open cut. The buildings were small compared to many older stations, about 42 feet long and 21 feet wide, and provided only the most minimal, necessary amenities. Exterior walls were a combination of glazed brick and structural glass blocks. Station entrance facades were a combination of aluminum panels, polished plate glass windows, and aluminum framed plate glass doors. The use of a glass front, which provided increased visibility into the station from the street and vice versa was a new concept that would be further explored in the CTA's next generation of median stations in the Kennedy-Dan Ryan project. The station exteriors were largely devoid of the type of ornamentation seen in the previous 50 years of station design, save perhaps for the door handles on all Congress stations, which were molded in the shape of the CTA logo. Recalling that the platform is set between two streets a quarter mile apart, there is a rather long distance that needs to be traversed between the station houses and the platforms in between. Thus, connection between the station houses and platform was achieved using long, enclosed ramps from the back of the station houses to the ends of the platform.

Harlem featured an auxiliary entrance at Circle Avenue. The Circle entrance featured an even smaller station house with an agent's booth, a single agent-controlled turnstile, and an exit rotogate. In later years, the fare controls were unmanned and Circle Avenue became an exit-only facility. Unlike the long ramp at the Harlem entrance (and most Congress entrances), Circle is connected to the platform by a set of stairs and a track-level walkway protected by fencing to the west end of the platform.

In 2009, Circle Avenue became an entrance point again with the installation of a farecard-only High-Barrier Gate (HBG) turnstile. The exit-only rotogate was removed, but the dormant ticket agent's booth was left in place. The HBG allows entrance to the station at all times, but the entrance is unstaffed and has no farecard vending machines, so customers must already possess a valid farecard to enter at Circle Avenue. The entrance temporarily closed from 6am to 4pm on Saturday, September 26 for the conversion, and upon reopening at 4pm was available for entrance. In addition to the new HBG turnstile, work at the Circle Avenue entrance also included the installation of new signage and a Customer Assistant call button, as well as new paint.


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