Harold Washington Library station, with its brick walls and European-style train shed, is seen looking southwest across Pritzker Park on March 5, 2010. Looming in the background is the Harold Washington Library Center -- the intended aesthetic coordination between the two facilities is evident. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren (1W-400S)
Between State and Dearborn Streets and Van Buren Street, Loop

Service Notes:

Brown Line: Ravenswood

Orange Line: Midway

Purple Line: Evanston Express

Pink Line: 54/Cermak-Loop

Accessible Station

Transfer Station (Transfer to Red and Blue line subways by farecard only; all other transfers unrestricted)

Quick Facts:

Address: 1 W. Van Buren Street
Established: June 22, 1997
Original Line: n/a
Previous Names: Library-State/Van Buren
Skip-Stop Type: n/a
Rebuilt: n/a
Status: In Use


When the Loop opened on October 3, 1897, there were three Colonial Revival stations on the Van Buren leg, including one at State/Van Buren. Amid a year of extensive service revisions and station and station entrance closures, the CTA closed the State/Van Buren station on September 2, 1973, presumably fallen ridership.

For additional information and photos of the earlier State/Van Buren elevated station (1897-1973), click here to see the State/Van Buren station profile.

This location did without a Loop "L" station for the next 24 years. In the late-1990s, a new station, Library-State/Van Buren, was built between State and Dearborn in conjunction with the construction of the new Harold Washington Library. From 2030 hours on Friday, July 12th to 0430 hours on Monday, July 15, 1996, the Van Buren leg of the Loop was taken out of service to permit structure renewal as part of the construction of the new station. On June 22, 1997, the new Library-State/Van Buren station opened at 0720 hours, serving Brown, Purple Express, and Orange Line trains.

The enclosure for the stairs/escalator to the mezzanine on the north side of Van Buren Street is seen looking west on February 24, 2011. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The new Library station was designed by Diane Legge Kemp of DLK Architecture to harmonize with the Harold Washington Library, which meant extensive use of red brick and green steel for a more classical look. The Library station, with its modernized prairie school look and European-style train shed, was designed to have a direct-to library entrance, but this was never built.

The station actually starts west of State -- so that berthed trains don't interfere with the signals at Tower 12 one block east -- and extends west of Dearborn Street. Fare controls are in a mezzanine platform between State Street and Plymouth Court. From there, riders proceed up to one of two long platforms, covered by two separate green steel train sheds. The crooked lights are similar to the classic lights that have decorated the older stations since the "L" first opened. Auxiliary exits are located at Dearborn Street.

The Library-State/Van Buren station was built in an excellent position, with it stairs at both State and Dearborn Streets, to serve as a transfer point to both the Red and Blue Lines subways, but the transit card turnstiles were not originally programmed to allow free transfers for passengers using farecards. A direct connection between the paid area at Library and the paid area at Jackson-Van Buren/State was contemplated when the latter station was remodeled in 1996-2000, but this plan was not executed. However, when the Pink Line began operation in 2006, Library was changed to function as a transfer station between the Loop Elevated and the Red and Blue line subways. The Loop-subway connection is a "walking transfer" and requires passengers to use the same farecard they entered the rail system with, similar to the transfer between the Lake subway station and the State/Lake Loop station.

The station was built adjacent to, and to serve among other destinations, the Harold Washington Library Center. The station opened in 1997 as "Library-State/Van Buren", with "Library" added shortly before the station opened -- it was originally planned to simply be called "State/Van Buren", like the previous station on the site. Following an informal campaign by several African-American residents who appeared before the CTA board and at other city hearings and public meetings over several years, the CTA changed the name of the station to reflect the full name of the adjacent library center, which honor's Chicago's first African-American mayor. On October 6, 2010, the CTA board voted unanimously to change the name of the Library-State/Van Buren station to the "Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren" station.

The Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren station platforms are seen looking west from the Inner Loop platform on February 24, 2011. With its olive steel shed, the facility resembles a classic train station, similar to the station at Davis in Evanston. The lights are also reminiscent of the "L"'s original platform lights. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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A contemporary aerial view of the Library-State/Van Buren station, looking west as a Midway train stops to load passengers. (Photo from the Proposed 1999 CTA Annual Budget)
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Car 3457 leads car 3458 and the rest of a six-car Purple Line Express train at Library-State/Van Buren on April 3, 1998. Unit 3457-3458 are an unusual pair: although numbered in the 3200-series, one is a 3200, while the other is a 2600-series car whose mate was permanently damaged. With its olive steel shed, the facility resembles a European train station, as well as the station at Davis in Evanston. The lights are also reminiscent of the "L"'s original platform lights. (Photo by Sean Gash)

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The green landscape of Pritzker Park and the red brick and olive metal ornaments of the Harold Washington Library provide both the idyllic backdrop and the influence for the architecture and design of Library station, looking southeast in Pritzker Park circa 1999. (Photo from the Collection of the Chicago Transit Authority)

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The latticed train shed-covered side platforms at Library-State/Van Buren, looking east at the Orange/Purple Line Inner Loop platform in Summer 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Car 2577 stops at Library/State-Van Buren during the morning rush hour on January 7, 2002. The newly-applied American flag, along with the red, white, and blue belt rail and car ends, give this 2400 an especially patriotic feel. The application of "Old Glory" is a systemwide program and the decal has begun appearing in late December 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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A Tale of Two 3200s: An Orange Line train with car 3270 at the rear pulls into the Library-State/Van Buren station, its first stop on the Loop, as a Brown Line train with car 3373 in the consist pulls out toward Tower 12 on January 7, 2002. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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A Green Line train at Library station?! It happened over Memorial Day weekend 2003, when Green Line trains from Harlem were short-turned on the Outer Loop due to the reconstruction of Harrison Curve. Here, car 2523 leads a Green Line train pulling into Library on May 26, 2003. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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While Orange Line was truncated at Roosevelt over Memorial Day weekend 2003 due to Harrison Curve reconstruction, there would've been no service on the Inner Loop. To compensate for this and aid in circulation of passengers around the Loop, a shuttle was operated all weekend with Orange Line equipment, as seen on Library on May 26, 2003, with car 3378 leading the 4-car consist. To see a close-up of the sign on the chains, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Car 2217, a 1969-vintage unit, is at the lead of a Pink Line train stopping at Library station on July 3, 2006 as the operator makes manual station announcements and checks for passengers before closing his doors. The 2200-series cars, which make up half of the 44 cars assigned to the Pink Line, are only used when 4-car service is operated on the route. Otherwise, only 2600-series cars are used. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Car 5010, decked out in its promotional graphics, leads an 8-car train of prototype 5000-series railcars in Orange Line service on November 19, 2010. The train is pulling into Harold Washington Library station (about a month after the CTA Board approved the new name for what had formerly been known as "Library" station, but about three months before the signage was changed) on a Friday mid-afternoon; the historic Fisher Building is looming in the left background. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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Orange Line Run 712 is led by 5000-series prototype car 5010, as it stops at Harold Washington Library station on November 19, 2010. The LED side destination signs approximate the typography of the mylar roller curtains on the older cars, presenting the destinations in an approximation of mixed-case Helvetica Bold text. Even the airplane symbol from the "Midway" roller curtain readings is replicated. The main difference is that all readings on the digital signs are amber characters on a black background instead of the color-coded readings on the mylar roller curtains. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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CTA tradesmen replace the original "Library-State/Van Buren" station name signs with new "Harold Washington Library-State/Van Buren" signs, looking west at the Outer Loop platform on February 24, 2011, a few months after the name change was authorized by the CTA Board. The changeout of all the necessary signage in the station took a couple days. (Photo by Graham Garfield)