Housing a hot dog stand at the end of its life, the former Madison station house was demolished in the 1990s in spite of being assigned the second-highest rating of importance in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey. (Chicago Tribune file photo)
Madison Street and Paulina Street, Near West Side
Logan Square Line
Address: 1718 W. Madison Street
Established: May 6, 1895
Original Line: Metropolitan West Side Elevated, Northwest branch
Previous Names: n/a
Skip-Stop Type: n/a
The Met station house at Madison, built in 1895 as part of the original section of the Metropolitan "L"'s Northwest route, was nearly identical all the other stations on the branch. The station house was typical of Met designs on the Northwest and Garfield Park branches. Built by the Jonathan Clark & Sons Company for the general contractor, Alfred Walcott, the stations were designed by the engineering staff of the Metropolitan company. Constructed of red pressed brick with stone sills and foundations, their vernacular style might best be described as Queen Anne-influenced with some Romanesque features. The station's design was highlighted by the semicircular bay/portico, a lattice pattern in the brick cornice, extensive terra cotta work including the word "entrance" above one door in the portico and "exit" above the other (although there was nothing to force ingress from one and egress from the other), dentals above the doors' story lights, and carved wooden beads flush with the building between the wooden brackets which supported a wooden canopy over the portico.
The station had dual side platforms, with canopies and railings typical of all Met stations: Designed into the railings were larger cast iron square plates with a stylized diamond design. The stairs and platforms were constructed of wood on a steel structure. Each platform had a short canopy in the center of the platform, covering the stairs and a small waiting area. The canopy frame was iron, with arched latticed supports and bracketed rafters, and hipped roofs of corrugated tin.
Madison station served the adjacent Chicago Stadium, a famous and beloved local arena where sporting events and other spectacles such as circuses and political conventions were held. Known as "the Madhouse on Madison" for its earsplitting interior, Chicago Stadium was an Art Deco gem that sported relief sculptures of athletes -- shot-putters, discus throwers, sprinters, cyclists and boxers -- on its masonry façade. It has since been demolished and replaced by the United Center.
Madison was closed February 25, 1951 when the Logan Square branch of the former Metropolitan "L" was rerouted through the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway. Douglas branch trains were routed to the old Logan Square tracks and onto the Lake Street "L" in 1954 while the Congress line was being built, but the station was not reactivated. The platforms and canopies were removed, but the station house remained, converted into a commercial building.
From 1983 to 1995, the City of Chicago compiled the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, which identified 17,371 properties as potential landmarks and rated them by color code according to their architectural or historical value. In spite of this effort at identification of significant structures, hundreds of these buildings were torn down in the late 20th and early 21st century. In the survey, the Madison station house was listed as an Orange-rated structure, defined as those buildings significant in the context of their communities. In later years, the former station house housed a hot dog stand. However, in spite of being assigned the second-highest rating of importance in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey, the former Madison headhouse was demolished circa the late 1990s.
Brief discussions were held in 1996 about bringing the Madison stop back for the Democratic National Convention at the United Center, but it never came to pass.1
In Spring 2012, the Bulls organization discussed a desire to build a $95 million retail and entertainment complex on the east side of the United Center. The 263,000-square-foot retail-and-entertainment center would add four restaurants, four bars, a team store, an event space, team offices, parking, a terrace, an atrium and a green roof. The complex would include building an atrium over the statue of Michael Jordan. Howard Pizer, executive vice-president of the Bulls, said in November 2012 that construction of the retail and entertainment complex would be contingent on nailing down an updated version of the property tax formula that has saved the Bulls and Hawks millions on property tax bills assessed against the United Center.2 Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledged the possibility of creating a new CTA stop that would serve both the United Center as well as a new Malcolm X College he plans to build adjacent to the old one now located east of the United Center.3 The CTA had no plans to build another stop at Madison as of November 2012, according to the agency, though they said it could become part of future proposals.4
1. Hilkevitch, Jon. "Getting Around: Answering questions about CTA construction and idling buses." Chicago Tribune, 19 November 2012.
2. Spielman, Fran. "Bulls: New practice facility a go, but entertainment complex needs a tax break." Chicago Sun-Times. 16 November 2012.
4. Hilkevitch, ibid.