Pulaski station is seen here on June 11, 2004, looking southwest from the plaza in front of the station as an outbound train departs. The bus terminal in front of the station is typical for the intermodally-oriented Orange Line stations. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Pulaski (5100S/4000W)
Pulaski Road and 51st Street, Archer Heights/West Elsdon

Service Notes:

Orange Line: Midway

Accessible Station

Park'n'Ride: 390 spaces

Quick Facts:

Address: 5106 S. Pulaski Road
Established: October 31, 1993
Original Line: n/a

Skip-Stop Type:


Rebuilt: n/a
Status: In Use


In 1993, the CTA completed the new Orange Line, built relatively 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.

One of seven stations on the line, Pulaski is typical of the facilities designed and built for the line, originally called the Southwest Rapid Transit line before adopting the CTA's then-new color designation shortly before opening. The stations, designed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, are typical of urban design in general and transit planning in particular during that period. The stations are designed to be intermodal and encourage rail-bus transferring, with off-street bus terminals connected to them. Most stations, like Pulaski, were also designed with sizable park'n'ride lots, owing to transit's postwar philosophy of sometimes trying to cooperate with the automobile to generate traffic rather than always trying to rival it. So successful were the park'n'ride lots at most stations that some of those on the Orange Line that didn't open with them had them added later. The station houses are also set far back from the street, catering far more to the transferring bus passengers and park'n'ride users than to walk-in traffic. This has the effect of disassociating the stations from the surrounding neighborhood and disallowing the station from contributing from the streetlife and presence along Pulaski Road or 51st Street. (In all fairness, the areas that a few of the Orange Line stations are situated in are remote and have little pedestrian traffic to speak of, but Pulaski is not one of these.) In front of the station is a large, open plaza, but except for a couple trees in raised planters it is an extremely stark, barren environment of flat concrete. In the plaza, on the corner of Pulaski and 51st, is a tall blue identification pylon denoting the presence of the station. This type of pylon was installed at all Orange Line stations and was to become standard for the CTA, but with the exception of one installed (and since removed) at Dempster-Skokie they never proliferated and have since fallen into disuse.

The interior of the Pulaski station house seen on April 18, 2003, looking at the fare controls from the unpaid area. The interiors and finishes are very rectilinear, typical for Orange Line stations. The artwork on the wall was added after the station opened. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The station facility was designed by the City, who encouraged the architects to use distinctive styles for the stations while conforming to a basic uniform layout and footprint. The station house has a long facade of glass windows framed by steel panels and mullions facing the bus terminal. The headhouse, most of which is situated underneath the concrete elevated structure, is topped with a steel box cornice. This cornice and roof extends east of the station building to create a covered walkway to the bus terminal and to the west to cover part of the walk to the park'n'ride lot. A similar steel box-shaped structure is set perpendicular to and partially overlaps the east eave and constitutes the canopy over the bus bays.

The interior of the station house is simple and typical of all Orange Line stations. The floors are concrete and the ceilings are made up of metal strip panels. The walls that do not have large picture windows are clad with simple, utilitarian tile. As in most Orange Line stations, the tile is white except for a very simple pattern that is unique to each station. In the case of Pulaski, this is a single band of gray tile and a band of dark red tile, separated by one course of white tile. Also, the bottom three courses of tile nearest the floor are dark gray. Otherwise, the walls are all-white. Finishes in the building, such as the grilles, sign boxes, and the agent's booth, are stainless steel and tend to rectilinear in design. The original turnstiles, replaced in 1997 with AFC Cubic-made TransitCard turnstiles, were also very rectilinear. The booths are significant in that they were the first specifically designed not to primarily function as fare collection facilities. Although there were still ticket agents at the time and "Customer Assistants" as we know them today would not exist for another four years after the station opened, the Orange Line was the first to prepare for the time when fare collection would be more automated. The agent in the booth did not collect fares, though they did verify reduced fare eligibility and accept transfers, and functioned more as an information assistant. Fares were to be paid at the turnstiles, and individuals that did not have exact change could use one of the Orange Line's specially-installed token vending machines. Following the installation of the AFC equipment, these machines were removed and standard TransitCard Vending Machines (TCVMs) were installed. The station also has a concession space, originally had a payment station for the park'n'ride (later relocated to the parking lot), and later had community artwork installed. Two pairs of stairs and escalators lead to the platform, as well as an elevator, making the station ADA compliant and accessible.

The platform is of the island variety, with a concrete deck and a full-length canopy. The canopy has a gable roof supported by two rows of square steel columns. The canopy extends out to the centerline of each track. The platform is outfitted with flat concrete slab benches and glass and steel windbreaks, shaped like an "H" if viewed in plan, with a panel on top that holds a station name sign inside a frame. Behind each stairway is another windbreak waiting area.

The Pulaski station is on a busy commercial street lined with strip malls and detached, setback buildings in the Archer Heights neighborhood, close to a residential communities inhabited by blue- and white-collar workers and near the West Elsdon neighborhood. The station is also near Curie High School, one of the city's large magnet schools.

At its June 4 , 2003 monthly meeting, the Chicago Transit Board approved a $569,973 contract for Chicago-based Camp Dresser & McKee, Inc. to design and prepare construction bid documents for the CTA's "Front Door Program" that will add amenities to station entrances throughout the rail system. Seven stations were scheduled for entrance upgrades as part of the initiative, including Pulaski. Funding for this contract is provided by the FTA and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). The improvements were designed but never performed, with the project funds diverted to other needs.

In late Spring 2005, the station name signs and column signs on the platform were replaced, with Green Line Graphic Standard signs replacing the Modified KDR Standard originals. Likewise, the original Modified KDR graphics of the station's backlit entrance signs were replaced with the newest Green Line Graphic Standard variety, listing the station's name, in January 2006.

Although the companies the CTA has contracted with over the years to handle their station and railcar advertising -- Obie, Viacom, CBS Outdoor Advertising and most recently Titan Worldwide -- have long had the right to install advertising frames and ads at Orange Line stations, this right was not exercised for over a decade, leaving the Orange Line stations ad-free, somewhat of an anomaly on the "L" system. CBS Outdoor fulfilled this contract option in June 2006, installing freestanding advertising panels at all Orange Line station platforms except Midway (where there is insufficient room). The panels are lined up along the centerline of the platform, between the already-present benches, trashcans, windbreaks, elevators, and stair/escalator enclosures.


Pulaski station's platform, with its wide concrete platform and full-length gable roof, is typical of those built on the Orange Line. This view looks southwest on April 18, 2003. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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This April 18, 2003 view looking up one of the two stair/escalator sets up to the island platform shows the Pulaski wall tile pattern, large plain white tiles with two simple stripes of gray and dark red. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The Orange Line stations tended to be set way back from the streets they were meant to serve. Often, they had plazas in front of them, but to save on landscaping maintenance they were usually a plain, flat field of concrete. The wide expanse of Pulaski's plaza, broken only by a few trees in raised planters, is seen here looking west from Pulaski Road on June 11, 2004. (Photo by Graham Garfield)