This view of the Midway terminal from August 1997 shows cars 3263-3264 and 3239-3240 loading passengers for the trip to the Loop. As the overhead sign denotes, trains load for the city on the east side and trains unload from the city on the west. (This sign and another identical one were removed in 2002 and replaced with prototype ATSS signs.) As this is the end of the Orange Line (for now), obviously you may not board the trains on the west side. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Jon Bell).

Midway (4600W/5900S)
59th Street and Kilpatrick Avenue, West Eldson

Service Notes:

Orange Line: Midway

Accessible Station

Midway Airport

Park'n'Ride: 299 spaces

Quick Facts:

Address: 4612 W. 59th Street
Established: October 31, 1993
Original Line: n/a
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:

Station

Rebuilt: n/a
Status: In Use

History:

Above: Passengers figure out how to purchase their Transitcards (the Orange Line was the first to utilize these) inside the Midway Terminal in August 1997. Although AVMs have been installed, note that there is a customer service counter under the awning. Today, the overhead sign remains, but with the removal of the information desk the "?" on it is an anachronism. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Jon Bell)

Below: The interior of Midway station is open and spacious, as seen looking southeast at the fare controls on April 18, 2003. The long row of turnstiles can handle a large volume of passengers and several of the turnstiles (like a couple in the middle) have wider clearances for easier navigation of luggage. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Southwest Chicago has long been neglected by rapid transit. The Douglas Branch of the Metropolitan "L" served what was then the southwest side in 1895, but the city soon grew far south of 22nd Street and west of the South Side "L"'s tracks, leaving a significant quadrant of the city unserved. In the 1940s, when the State Street and Dearborn Street subways were being constructed, the city planned an elaborate system of subways to expand the "L" system, including a southwest route from the Loop to Midway Airport. (See proposed subway map.)

Unfortunately, the citizens of this area would have to wait another fifty years before rapid transit would reach them, and then was on an "L", not in a subway. In 1993, the CTA® completed the new Orange Line, built inexpensively (about $500 million) using old abandoned railroad rights-of-ways, including those previously used by the Illinois Central Railroad, Santa Fe Railway and the Belt Railway of Chicago. Interestingly, the CTA® chose not to utilize the median of the Stevenson Expressway to carry the "L", built wide like the Congress, Dan Ryan and Kennedy Expressways specifically to carry rapid transit lines. This may have been for the best: putting an "L" line in the median of an expressway isolates it from the neighborhood it's supposed to serve.

Ground was broken for the Midway station during a ceremony at the station site on January 22, 1990 attended by Mayor Daley, and CTA® Acting Executive Director Bernard Ford, Chicago public works commissioner David Williams, U.S. Rep. William Lipinski (D-Chicago), other public officials. Designed under the auspices of the City, the architects were encouraged to use distinctive styles for the stations while conforming to a basic uniform layout and footprint. The three-track Midway terminal is laid out to accommodate interchange with several bus routes, a complete yard and a car maintenance facility. The station features one island platform on the east and an additional side platform on the west. Both lead to an overhead sidewalk via elevators, escalators and stairs that goes west to the fare control area and was connected to the airport terminal by a 1,200-foot moving walkway.

The Midway station serves its namesake airport, originally connected by a long elevated, enclosed skywalk with moving walkways in both directions. Although this was a somewhat long walk, it was safe and protected from the elements, and the moving belts made the trip a bit less onerous. Chicago is the only city in the United States to have more than one airport connected to rapid transit. The station is situated outside of the airport structure and the platform is depressed below grade purposely to facilitate the planned extension of this line south to the Ford City Shopping Center at 76th and Cicero. (Interestingly, the vinyl roller sheet that the trains' destination signs are printed on already include one for Ford City, sometimes visible when a motorman puts on the wrong sign or the sign mechanism malfunctions.)

The new 3200-series cars were ordered in conjunction with this project, most of which are assigned to this line. The Orange Line the first to use single-crewman operations, now standard on the whole "L" system.

In 2002, Midway became part of the RTA's Active Transit Station Signs (ATSS) project, becoming one of four project test sites. The ATSS signs provide real-time transit and traffic information on a demonstration basis. They display a countdown of the minutes until the next departing train, travel times to the Loop, fare information, service disruption or delay messages or any other number of messages the CTA® chooses to program into the signs.

One of the interesting aspects of the O'Hare and Midway ATSS signs is that the ones in the transit station look like those at the other two test stations. But the signs in the airport are designed to harmonize with the existing signage already in the airport (which, coincidentally, are of a completely different design at the two airports). The signs on the platforms are not currently programmed to display the time until next train like the other stations' signs, since the airport stations are at the end of the line and there is usually a train waiting to depart. As programmed, these merely take the place of the LED "Next Train" signs that they replaced (seen in the photo at the top of the page), with one side saying "Do No Board" and the other "Next Train" with arrows pointing to the appropriate tracks. (Only the island platform at Midway has ATSS signs, since the lay-up track platform doesn't usually have put-outs.) At the station house, there is a two-sided sign is positioned over the entrance from the bus terminal. The side facing outward from the entrance will display the time until the next departure, while the side facing toward the entrance will display which bus routes are operating at the time.

At Midway station, two women prepare to board an inbound Orange Line train with their baggage, guided to the correct train by the overhead ATSS sign on October 25, 2002. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

At both airports, there are also signs posted in the passageways leading to the station from the airport terminal, through the parking garage that stands between the airport and the CTA® station. Both airports also have ATSS signs in the baggage claim areas. These signs are not programmed to give the time until the next departure, since in many cases it would take so long to get from the airport to the station that the next train probably would have left (plus, many people can't accurately judge how long it will take them to get to the station from the terminal anyway). Instead, they give the service interval (how frequently the trains run), travel time to the city, and display other CTA® and travel information.

In Fall 2002, the Chicago Department of Aviation (DOA) solving a long-standing problem at Midway station, caused when the new airport terminal and parking garage were built on the east side of Cicero and the original elevated walkway that connected the station and the airport was bisected. As originally built, the CTA® station was connected to the airport terminal on the west side of Cicero Avenue by a long, enclosed, elevated 1,200-foot skywalk. However, when the new airport terminal and parking garage were built on the east side of Cicero, the elevated walkway was cut off. As a result, only a short stretch of the walkway remained and it fed directly into the parking garage, which in turn fed into the new terminal. This was not, in and of itself, a problem except that no provision was made in the parking garage for a protected walkway for passengers walking between the airport and the transit station. As a result, these luggage-toting travelers were subjected to a confusing, poorly-marked walkway and had to mingle dangerously with traffic in the garage. In Fall 2002, the city DOA built an enclosed walkway between the terminal and where the old walkway connects to the garage. Although travelers still have to cross traffic lanes in 2-3 places (depending on which path you take), the rest of the trip is now made in well-marked walkways enclosed with clear, corrugated plexiglas partitions. Metal bumpers protect the partitions from the outside in case an auto hits the wall by accident. This provides a much more hospitable, friendly connection between the airport and the transit station, making the trip both safer and more inviting.

During Autumn 2004 and Spring 2005, several "L" stations got new station name signs. As part of a multi-station program, twelve facilities in all on the Blue, Purple, Red, Orange, and Green lines received new, Current Graphic Standard station name signs, replacing older KDR-type signs that used an outdated graphic scheme that was inconsistent with the colored line names. The new signs not only replaced old ones in existing locations at these island platform stations, but were added at additional locations outside the tracks, facing to the platform, for ADA compliance. The new signs facing the east island platform were mounted on new steel brackets that are supported and project from the ground below. Installation at all stations was complete by the end of November 2004. Fabrication and installation of the signs was performed by contractor Western Remac.

Likewise, the original Modified KDR graphics of the station's backlit entrance signs were replaced with the newest Current Graphic Standard variety, listing the station's name, in January 2006.

In Summer 2006, Urban Gateways: Center for Arts Education, a non-profit organization that provides multicultural performing, visual and literary arts programs for children, teachers and parents in the Chicago area, adopted the Midway station under the CTA's® Adopt-a-Station program. As part of the adoption, artwork created by Chicago-area junior and senior high school students was installed in the station mezzanine. The artwork -- paintings which follow a time-focused theme and include images of the Chicago skyline, jazz performers, dancers and children next to clocks and use the airport as a backdrop for people measuring their life by its arrivals and departures -- was created in the summer of 2005 by junior high and high school students involved in "Art Options", an Urban Gateways mentorship program designed to enhance their professional art career development. The artwork consists of 30 pieces, each painted on wood and mounted directly on the station's orange ceiling beams in the mezzanine area over the platforms. Each painting is approximately 24" x 34". Chicago Transit Authority officials and Urban Gateways student artists and staff dedicated the art on July 27, 2006 and recognized Urban Gateways for their adoption of the Midway station.

 

The Midway Terminal is an intermodal complex in every sense of the word. This view looks northeast on April 18, 2003 from Kilpatrick Avenue (less a street than a service drive). Visible on the right is the bus terminal that no less than nine CTA and Pace bus routes serve. The canopy on the left covers a walkway to a kiss'n'ride and bike racks. Behind these canopies is the rapid transit station. And above it all on the left is the elevated walkway to the airport, where passengers can transfer to points nationally and beyond! For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)


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Another August 1997 view of the Midway terminal. Note that the platforms are somewhat depressed below ground level. This is to make it easier to extend the tracks beyond the station. (Photo by Jon Bell)

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An Orange Line train on track 1 at the end of its run discharges its passengers onto the Midway island platform, looking south on May 6, 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The ATSS sign over the Midway station entrance from the bus terminal sowed only the date and time on October 25, 2002, but will eventually show departure information too. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The Midway island platform, seen here looking north on October 25, 2002, has ATSS signs at the bottom of the stairs and other location, but the lay-up track on the left has none. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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As the ATSS sign counts down to its departure, car 3367 sits in the middle of an Orange Line consist with its doors open, ready to take passengers downtown or intermediate points on the Southwest Side. The platform is tranquil in the mid-afternoon of April 18, 2003, but teams with customers during peak hours. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Looking north in the new enclosed walkway in the Midway Airport parking garage, between the terminal and the transit station, on October 25, 2002. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Car 3304 brings up the rear of an Orange Line train at Midway on September 10, 2000. (Photo by Ernie Baudler)

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Car 3204 leads a two-car Orange Line train at Midway Terminal, soon after operations began in late 1993. (Photo by Eric Oszustowicz)

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The old and the new: 1993-built 3200-series Orange Line car 3237 sits side-by-side with 1959-vintage 5-50 series car 22 at Midway Terminal at the IRM PCC fantrip on May 6, 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Looking south at the three-car IRM PCC charter train trailed by car 6655 at Midway on May 6, 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The IRM PCC charter train, with car 6655 bringing up the rear, is on the lay-up track at Midway Terminal on May 6, 2001. Car 6655 bears a 1950s/60s era Lake "A" route sign. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Completing its run from the Loop, an Orange Line train led by car 3281 pulls into Midway Terminal on Track 1, looking north in July 1999. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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Car 6655, on the IRM's PCC fan trip, has reached the end of the Orange Line at Midway station on May 6, 2001. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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A view from atop the pedestrian bridge overlooking the Midway terminal of the Orange Line on May 8, 2002. The train of 3200s on the left track is ready to head northwest to the Loop; the train on the right has just returned from the Loop. (Photo by Ernie Baudler)

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Two 3200-series cars stand side by side at the north end of Midway terminal, looking west on May 8, 2002. (Photo by Ernie Baudler)

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The CTA's® Holiday Train, a perennial favorite of Chicago children and adults alike, is embellished a little more every year. Put together with volunteer labor and staffed by volunteer CTA® employees, the train travels to different lines throughout late November and December each year. The 2005 Holiday Train is on a layover at Midway terminal on December 18, 2005. (Photo by Graham Garfield)