After being reactivated for a year and a half to serve as a temporary terminal for the Douglas branch, Laramie station is once again closed and abandoned in this August 25, 2003 view, looking northeast. Note the sign on the front directing passengers to the new 54/Cermak terminal across the street and the short remnant of the platform behind the headhouse. Click here for a larger image. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Laramie (5200W/2200S)
Laramie Avenue and 21st Place, Town of Cicero

Service Notes:

Blue Line: Cermak (Douglas)

Quick Facts:

Address: 2130 S. Laramie Avenue
Established: August 16, 1910
Original Line: Metropolitan West Side Elevated, Douglas Park branch
Previous Names: 52nd Avenue

Skip-Stop Type:

Station (1951-1958)

Station (1958-1995)

Rebuilt: n/a


Closed February 9, 1992 (abandoned)

Reactivated February 25, 2002 (as temporary terminal)

Closed August 16, 2003 (abandoned)


Looking west on the original island platform at Laramie circa the mid-1950s, the short canopy and headhouse and are ahead and the discharge-only platform is seen on the right. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the CTA Collection)

In 1910, the Metropolitan Elevated Railroad was extended to 52nd Avenue (later renamed to Laramie) in Cicero. The station is a small, wood frame station house, originally set between the two tracks at ground level (the line runs at grade here). The exterior uses clapboard siding and a hipped roof with eaves that extended out about a foot. The front features one set of double doors, while the sides are broken up by four double-hung sash windows on the north elevation and three on the south. The rear opened out onto an island platform. The interior was most likely originally floor-to-ceiling tongue-in-groove paneling with wood floors and paneled ceilings. There was originally a small ticket booth near the entrance and a boiler stove for heat and incandescent lights for illumination.

Some modifications were made the station in later years. A discharge-only side platform was built on the outbound track, squeezed between the tracks and 21st Place. It's not entirely clear why this platform was added, although it probably had to do with the extra capacity needed for the many factories around the station and/or the heavily-patronized West Towns service between the station and the popular Sportsmans Park and Hawthorne race tracks to the south. The Chicago Avenue streetcar line of the Chicago & West Towns took race fans from the station south on 52nd Avenue [later renamed Laramie] to 36th Street. Later, West Towns buses took over the service and eventually taxis picking up passengers at both 52nd and 48th [Cicero] avenues got most of that business. Use of the discharge-only platform, which by the end was confined to the afternoon rush, ceased in April 1956. By the late-1950s, this platform was removed. In 1980, the platform received new decking. Besides this, most of the station remained as it was built, including the wooden windbreak partitions and incandescent gooseneck lights.

A final set of modifications were made to the station in January 1992. The rear the headhouse was rebuilt, resulting in the east elevation being moved in several feet, slightly reducing the interior space. A new rear doorway was built and a small window that had been on the north elevation on the portion of the wall that was removed was moved a few feet west. At the same time, the east half of the canopy -- roughly 12 feet between canopy posts -- was removed, leaving only one canopy "bay", not even long enough to cover one car. The work, which was ironically only a month before the station would close (see below), was likely done as a result of deterioration of the station fabric and to shore up the structure for its eventual mothballing.

As early as the mid-1980s, the CTA was contemplating closing the station. Traffic had become modest with the closure of some industry around the station -- although there was still a mix of residential to the east, industrial to the west, and commercial to the south along Cermak -- and seemed to be declining. Several studies were made -- all of them declared that Cicero to the east and 54/Cermak to the west, as well as paralleling CTA and Pace buses could absorb most of the traffic -- but the station was not closed immediately. Finally, however, the CTA's budget reached a crisis in the early 1990s for which a severe round the station closures was prescribed. Laramie was closed in the service revision of February 9, 1992, along with several other stations. However, in the 1980s, it had been classified as "historic" in a memorandum of agreement with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and thus could not be demolished. So, it was locked and left intact; even the old platform lights remained. The CTA has no plans to reopen the station on a permanent basis, but it will be preserved as the only remaining example of this type of ground level station that once dominated the Douglas Park branch in Cicero and Berwyn.


Douglas Renovation Project

The CTA's Douglas Rehabilitation Project was the unlikely catalyst for the return of Laramie station back to revenue service, even if only on a temporary basis. For the duration of the construction of the new 54/Cermak station, service was trimmed back to the reactivated Laramie station, which served as the Douglas (Cermak) branch's temporary terminal.

A number of modifications were made to Laramie station for its new role as a terminal. A new westbound track to the north was put in service in mid-December 2001 (resulting in the original eastbound track being taken out of service and eventually removed), causing Laramie's island platform to become a side platform on the inbound track (Track 2). This served as the terminal's boarding platform. A new bus staging lane was installed along side this side platform to the south, partially in the space previously occupied by the original eastbound track.

The new "station house" trailer, complete with access ramps, sits along side the historic station house, looking northeast on January 29, 2002. The bus bay, with its asphalt vehicle surface and concrete sidewalk, is also complete. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Entrance to the boarding platform was not through the historic station house -- which remained closed during this reactivation -- but through a temporary station house inside a mobile trailer. Customers transferring from buses were discharged in front of this trailer, from which they could enter the station. The gooseneck lights down the middle of the platform were removed, with the holes in the floor patched with custom-cut wood planks. The freestanding station name sign frames and stands that are also down the center of the platform were left in place. A wooden supervisor's booth was installed at the east end of the platform and gap fillers were also provided. The short one-car-length canopy in back of the station house was outfitted with a new wall on the north side, along the track. It consisted of a simply wooden wall with two windows, to provide additional protection from the elements for waiting customers. To make the space inside this new enclosure more spacious, the wooden canopy supports that ran down the center of the platform were removed, with the canopy supported by the new curtain wall on the north, the station house on west, and new supports on the south edge of the platform. The east side was open to the platform. A series of small cantilevered canopies were also constructed along the boarding platform. Although they could be used for shelter by waiting customers, the fact that they correspond to the location of the motorcab for various berthing locations would seem to suggest other reasons for their installation.

A temporary headhouse was located inside the mobile trailer, though very little of it was for the use of customers. Entrance to the trailer "station house" was from one of two wooden ramps from Laramie Avenue (descending to the sidewalk next to the stairs to the historic station house) or the bus bay. The interior housed the Customer Assistant's booth, a crew lounge, and an office. The turnstiles and TransitCard AVMs were actually outside on the platform under the canopy/enclosure.

After service was moved to the new 54/Cermak terminal, Laramie closed again. But this time, the original island platform (used as a side platform during its brief reactivation) was removed, as seen looking east on August 25, 2003. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

On the north side of the right-of-way, a new discharge-only platform (mirroring a similar platform that had been used at the station until 1956) was erected out of jersey barriers, steel beams, and wood planks. Wooden brackets and frames for the station name signs were fabricated and installed on this platform, although nearly all of the signs ended up being installed on the chainlink fence behind that separated the platform from 21st Place. A wooden ramp from the platform to Laramie Avenue along 21st Place provided egress from the station. An overhead sign on the ramp informed potential riders not to enter this platform, though there was not an exit-only rotogate to actually prevent someone from walking onto this platform from the street (a la Skokie at the end of the Yellow Line). A short cantilevered canopy was also located there originally, over the entrance to the ramp from the platform, lining up with where the head car of all trains pulled in to discharge their riders, though it was removed shortly after opening when it was discovered that the support posts interfered with passenger circulation.

During normal operation, outbound 54/Cermak trains discharged their passengers at this north platform, proceeded to 54th Yard or 53rd Interlocking to turn around, then came back to the south platform to board passengers for the trip to downtown and O'Hare. However, a new crossover was also installed east of the station near 51st Avenue so that evening rush hour trains could discharge their customers on the south platform to facilitate cross-platform transfers to the extension buses, as was the practice at 54/Cermak terminal, though this was rarely done.

The opening of the temporary 54/Cermak terminal at Laramie was originally targeted for January 27, 2002, but was delayed due to insufficient time for Kiewit/Delgado, AJV, the construction contractors for the Douglas Rehabilitation Project, to complete the necessary work. The date for the cutback to Laramie was changed to Monday, February 11th, then again to Monday, February 18th. The changeover finally occurred on February 25, 2002. Despite the terminal's location at Laramie (5200W), the station was known as "54/Cermak" to avoid confusion and discrepancies with maps, timetables, and other printed information.

Looking southwest from behind the station on December 8, 2003, the historic Laramie station platform and canopy have been restored to their pre-Douglas renovation configuration. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The CTA originally said the temporary terminal at Laramie would be in effect for a period of nine months, but was actually in use for about a year and a half will the new 54/Cermak terminal was constructed across the street. Laramie station closed again at 0200 hours on August 16, 2003, with service transferred to the new 54/Cermak terminal effective at the resumption of Cermak (Douglas) service at 0400 hours, Monday, August 18, 2003.

Over the following weekend, August 23-24, Kiewit began removal of the structures used at the temporary terminal. Unfortunately, this included most of the original island platform -- used as a side platform during the station's brief reactivation -- which would be in the way of park'n'ride spaces the CTA constructed on the site of the inbound platform and former temporary busway (which itself was on the site of an alley and former right-of-way of the original Douglas branch's inbound track, relocated in 2001). Only a few feet of platform beyond the canopy were to remain, along with the canopy and headhouse. Also removed that weekend were the trailers used for the temporary Transportation Office, Later scheduled to be removed were the "station house" trailer and temporary discharge platform. However, the remaining portion of the original platform and its reconfigured canopy remained unaltered for several weeks.

Finally, in Fall 2003, Kiewit undertook work to revert the Laramie facility to its pre-"Renew the Blue" project condition. The curtain wall along the inbound track was removed and the canopy posts were restored to their pre-project configuration. Other small patches and repairs were undertaken as well, and finally the entire facility was given a fresh coat of white paint. In the end, a few feet of platform beyond the canopy remains, along with the canopy itself and the station's headhouse as part of the preserved historic station, which is listed as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It should be noted, however, that Kiewit did not restore the station to original condition, per se, as the station had several small modifications made to it in the early 1990s. However, Kiewit was only required to return the station to the condition in which they found it. A historic restoration was not part of the Douglas Renovation Project scope.

At the same time, a new parking lot was graded and paved to the east of the Laramie facility, on the south side of the Douglas right-of-way. Fencing was installed between the tracks and the lot and lights for the lot for installed along the fence. A small kiosk was erected at the west end of the lot, near the Laramie building and on the way to the Laramie entrance to the new 54/Cermak terminal, for payment of parking fees. The new lot has 82 parking spaces for the convenience of CTA customers.

The Laramie island station platform, looking west in August 2001. When the CTA closed the station 1992, they left everything in situ. All of the platform fixtures remained until January 2002 -- including lights, sign posts and brackets, sandboxes, benches, and the short canopy -- until the station was modified to serve as a temporary terminal during the Douglas Rehabilitation Project. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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A 6000-series train assigned to the Douglas-Milwaukee B run passes the modest Laramie station on a snowy day in 1967. (Photo by Jerry Applemen)

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Car '75 visits Laramie (Douglas) on a fan trip on July 6, 1975. (Photo by Doug Grotjahn, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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Car 2222 brings up the rear of a four-car all-2200-series fan trip train at Laramie on the Douglas Branch on July 4, 1971. (Photo by Joe Testagrose)

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The Laramie station stands abandoned and locked, but intact, in March 1998. Note the somewhat ironic sign posted to the right of the door reading "THIS IS NOT A PASSENGER STATION." (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The historic Laramie station house and platform, looking southeast on January 18, 2002. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The Laramie station house, out-of-service eastbound track, and new bus lane, looking east on January 18, 2002. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The Laramie island platform, in the process of being converted to a side platform, looking east on January 18, 2002. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The new bus staging area at Laramie, looking east on January 18, 2002. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Crews remove the old inbound Douglas track in front of the historic Laramie station on January 29, 2002. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Looking east along the right-of-way, with the new discharge platform at left and the original platform at right on January 29, 2002. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The historic Laramie station house, the new trailer station behind, and the new discharge platform in foreground, looking southwest on January 29, 2002. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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This new enclosure on the Laramie boarding platform, looking south on January 29, 2002, is the only real protection for waiting passengers on the inbound platform. It was created by installing the wall on the north side of the station's original canopy (whose bracketed supports are still evident emerging from the new curtain wall). (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The Laramie boarding platform, constructed from the station's original island platform, is nearly complete in this view looking west on January 29, 2002. Yet to be installed are the fare controls underneath the canopy enclosure. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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A harbinger of things to come: Although this 54/Cermak Blue Line train led by rehabbed car 3039 seems to be pulling into the new Laramie discharge platform, it will actually continue through to the old 54/Cermak Terminal. The temporary Laramie terminal would not be activated for a little over week after this January 29, 2002 view. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The historic station house is closed up tight, but with a new enclosure on the rear in this view looking southeast on January 29, 2002. The station house was not used in the temporary terminal, but the platform was, with access provided from a temporary entrance behind the old station house. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Despite leaving the old station name sign frames and brackets from the former island platform for use in the new station, Kiewit (the Douglas project contractors) instead decided to hang the signs on the chainlink fence and leave the brackets empty in this view looking east on the loading platform on February 26, 2002. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The busway built to the south of the temporary Douglas branch terminal -- part of which takes up the former right-of-way of the old inbound track -- is finished and in full use in this view looking west on March 11, 2002. The station "house" (e.g. the trailer) is up ahead. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The new 54/Cermak park'n'ride lot on former site of the Laramie station platform, adjacent to historic Laramie (seen at left), is seen looking east from 54th Avenue on December 8, 2003. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Looking northwest, the historic Laramie station house, with its platform and canopy restored to pre-"Renew the Blue" configuration, is seen surrounded by new 54/Cermak park'n'ride lot and payment kiosk on December 8, 2003. (Photo by Graham Garfield)