A 2000-series Lake-Dan Ryan B train stops at Pulaski on the Lake Street Line on October 29, 1969. This is a month after the previously-independent Lake Street Line was paired with the then-new Dan Ryan Line. The track-level station houses were of the same the same design as the other typical Lake Street stations dating from 1893. Note the old-style enamel and wood platform sign, this one with address coordinates (some lacked these). For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Fred W. Schneider III)

Pulaski (4000W/300N)
Pulaski Road and Lake Street, West Garfield Park

Service Notes:

Green Line: Lake

Accessible Station

Quick Facts:

Address: 4000 W. Lake Street
Established: March 1894
Original Line: Lake Street Elevated Railroad
Previous Names: 40th Avenue

Skip-Stop Type:

Station

Rebuilt: 1973
(new canopies, fare controls), 1996 (new platforms), 2001 (new station houses, elevators added)
Status: In Use

History:

The interior waiting room of a typical Lake Street "L" station. Note the wood burning stove. Most Lake Street station houses were the exactly the same. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the Krambles-Peterson Archive)

Pulaski was typical of Lake Street stations constructed in 1892-94 for the Lake Street Elevated Railroad by its engineering staff. The station was an iron structure that represented a unique attempt to apply the Queen Anne architectural style, more typical of wood or brick houses, to a elevated metal transit station. The station houses also presented strong influences from the High Victorian Gothic style, although the stations' construction in 1892 represented a late application of this style. The exteriors were clad in corrugated metal siding with decorative detail in the metal and wood trim around the windows and in panels below. Perhaps the stations' most identifiable features were the buildings' characteristic "pagoda"-like cupolas. They also originally had chimneys.

Because the fare controls were at track level, there were two separate station houses per station: one per direction, connected to each platform. The interiors of these stations had floor to ceiling tongue-in-groove paneling and wood moldings, with a wood floor, peaked ceiling, circular windows on the walls at the peaks, benches along the walls, and wood-burning stoves in the center of the room to heat the station. The ticket offices in the Lake Street stations were on the trackside walls of the interior. The platforms had short canopies, covering just a few cars, which were actually extensions of the station house roofs. These stations also originally had elaborate railings on the platforms.

At some point in its history, the Pulaski station houses' distinctive towers or "copulas" that were trademarks on all the Lake Street stations were removed.

On March 18, 1956, the adjacent Hamlin "A" station was closed due to low ridership. To cushion the loss of service to area residents, the east- and westbound platforms at Pulaski were extended 200 feet east and auxiliary entrances were opened at Harding Avenue, only a few blocks from the former Hamlin station. Despite the loss of a station, the change gave former-Hamlin patrons the choice of both "A" and "B" trains at Pulaski and sped up Lake Street service through the elimination of a stop. A drum barrier was installed at this time on the eastbound platform to separate the paid area from the unpaid area for those hours when an agent was on duty at the Pulaski entrance but not at Harding. Additionally, a rotogate was installed at Harding on the westbound platform to provide remote-controlled closing of the of the part-time Harding entrance during the Monday-Friday AM rush when an agent was on duty at the Pulaski entrance only. Agent coverage was provided at Harding on weekday rush hours only, eastbound in the morning and westbound in the afternoon. Harding was an auxiliary exit full-time.

Car 2165 trails on this Lake-Dan Ryan "A" train stopping at Pulaski/Lake on October 4, 1972. Construction at Pulaski, which included rebuilt platforms and canopies (seen underway here) and new fare controls, would not be complete until May 7, 1973. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Steve Zabel, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

The late-1950s marked the beginning of a slow decline in the quality of both services at facilities on the CTA's Lake Street Line. Decreasing ridership on the route necessitated several economy moves over the following decades, though they did little to stem the line's sagging revenues. Starting on January 1, 1958, Pulaski westbound and several other Lake Street elevated stations were reduced to agent coverage during rush hours only. Further service reductions were made on April 17, 1960 when the Harding auxiliary entrance to the eastbound platform was closed. It was, however, retained as an auxiliary exit and the auxiliary entrance to the westbound platform was also retained.

Service levels increased on the Lake Street Line when it was paired with the new Dan Ryan Line in 1969, though it was only due to higher demands on the new end of the line. On December 18, 1972, the West-South Route (the Lake-Dan Ryan Line) increased train lengths during rush hour to 8 cars and used 4-car trains midday.

In 1973, amid a number of station closings and service reductions, Pulaski/Lake was rebuilt. Construction began in 1972 and it was apparently at this time that the original 1893-94 station houses were demolished. New platforms were constructed, as well as new steel canopies with their flat ceilings at a sharp 90 degree to the support beams. New fare controls were also constructed on the platforms, with modest agents booths and partition walls as the station's only amenities. The rebuilt platforms and agents booths were opened on May 7, 1973. On September 14th, final platform work was completed and trains began stopping at the east end of the platforms.

On February 21, 1993 the Lake Street Line was repaired with the Englewood-Jackson Park Line, forming the CTA's new Green Line. On December 18, 1993 the Harding auxiliary exit stairway on the east end of the westbound platform was closed.

 

Pulaski Rebuilt, One Piece at a Time

The 1973-built canopies and fare controls are seen here later in their life. After new platforms were built in 1996, they were no longer at the west end of the station but rather at the east end. Looking east on January 5, 2001, the curved wooden walkways, formally station platforms, now connected the fare controls to the new platforms, with wooden railings to prevent customers from walking too near the tracks. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

On January 9, 1994, the Green Line closed for a two-year rehabilitation. All stations on the line closed, with Pulaski and several other stops to be replaced with new, modern facilities. The CTA Planning Department found that one thing that many riders was dissatisfied with is the system's failure to meet their needs, transit-related and otherwise. One solution to that problem the CTA came up with was the construction of what were dubbed "super-stations." One was to be constructed at Pulaski Road on the refurbished Green Line. The station was to include many facilities, from a convenience store to a bank branch to a day care center, all to better meet the needs of the riding public. It was also hoped that such stations would serve as magnets for redevelopment in the depressed areas of the West Side. There were discussions of a similar station at 63rd Street (though it wasn't specified where) or perhaps Garfield on the equally depressed South Side. The new Pulaski super-station was scheduled to open by fall of 1996, but it was never built.

There was some construction done at Pulaski during the rehab, however. As reopened on May 12, 1996, the station was piecemeal in design, utilizing old and new elements, but lacking an actual station house. New dual platforms were constructed with new steel canopies and concrete decks. All of the normal platform amenities -- windbreaks, new platform signage, benches -- were also installed, but no station house was constructed. The new platforms, which began on the west side of Pulaski Road and extended westward from there, had auxiliary rotogate exit a block west at Karlov Avenue.

During the Green Line rehab of 1994-96, a new set of platforms and canopies were built for Pulaski. Looking east on January 5, 2001, a new overhead transfer bridge and station houses are being added to complete the facility. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Even with the new platforms, the old 1973-built fare controls remained in place. Housed underneath short canopies on the east side of Pulaski, passengers reached them from individual staircases on each side of Lake Street. Each platform continued to have its own separate track-level fare controls -- as the station had since the day it opened -- so riders could not go from one platform to the other without leaving the paid area. From the time these canopies and fare controls were installed in 1973 until the 1994 Green Line closure the station largely extended eastward from this location. After reopening in 1996, it did the opposite: the platforms east of the fare controls were removed, while platforms extending to the west connected up with the new facility. Riders reached their platform by walking from the entry located east of Pulaski along the track level platforms over Pulaski Road to the newly-built platforms. Trains were reberthed to stop on the new platforms west of Pulaski, so railings were installed on the trackside of the curved sections of the old platforms that now served only as walkways connecting the fare controls on the east with the loading area on the west.

A piecemeal and inconvenient arrangement to be sure, but it was only meant to be temporary. Initially, only platforms were built because it was hoped that the "super-station" concept might still come to fruition. Once it became clear that it would not, the CTA decided to proceed with building more typical entrances to finish off the new facility. Built under a capital program named the "Blue-Green Program" (simply because it encompassed capital improvements on the Blue and Green lines), the CTA announced on September 15, 1999 that the Pulaski station would be improved with new station houses and elevators to carry customers from the street level to the platforms. Public address and signage improvements as well as other electrical and mechanical modifications were also to be installed. Work was expected to be completed within 16 months but work started later and took a bit longer than expected.

The new station house and entrance stairs are well underway in this view looking northwest at Lake and Pulaski on January 5, 2001. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The new station houses are located on the west side of Pulaski Road. The facility includes separate inbound and outbound station houses with stairs and elevators from the street to each, plus an overhead transfer bridge for CTA personnel only. The station houses are made of glass and green- and white-painted steel in a utilitarian modern design. The Customer Assistant (CA) booth in the inbound station house and the fare controls in both are stainless steel. The inbound platform includes a spacious new supervisor's booth integrated into the station house structure. The outbound station house is unstaffed, with no CA booth, but there are fare controls (turnstiles and a wheelchair access gate) and farecard vending machines. Customers needing assistance on this side must press a call button and the CA or attendant must use the aforementioned bridge to reach the outbound side from the inbound to provide assistance. The platforms also received new lights at the extreme west end of the platforms (after the canopies end) and new fiberglass signs, which are much more resilient than the temporary painted signs initially installed in 1996 that were easily scratched and etched.

As of January 2001, construction of the new facilities was on its way. The structure of the new track-level station houses and larger fare control area on the eastbound platform (the inbound platform also has support rooms), as well as the smaller station house on the westbound platform, were largely completed by this point. Construction of the elevator shafts, new stairways and overhead bridge were well underway.

CTA President Frank Kruesi (left), CTA Chairman Valerie Jarrett (second from right), and Mayor Richard Daley (center) cut the ribbon at the Pulaski opening in June 2001. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the CTA web site)

The exterior finish of green and white steel and glass had been installed on the station houses by late March 2001. The concrete decks were poured, the corrugated metal roof, roof drains, plumbing for bathroom and janitorial areas, and electrical equipment were installed, and the interior finishes were being completed. The overhead transfer bridge had also been completed. The bridge was finished in the style of the Green Line station architecture, with a green and white steel structure, green handrails and mesh plates below the railing, and attractive green metal gooseneck lamps.

By late April, the new supervisor's booth, grates on north and south stairs, and new signage and signage brackets had been installed. Also completed were the public address and signage improvements and some minor electrical and mechanical modifications. The installation of the fare control equipment and other interior finishes were largely complete by May 2001.

The new station facilities at Pulaski on the Green Line opened the morning of June 2, 2001, right on time according to the revised construction schedule (it was earlier slated to be complete May 1st), though the station required an additional week or so of final punchlist work to be completed. The new inbound and outbound station houses were activated at 1000 hours that morning, inaugurated ceremoniously with a press conference by Mayor Richard M. Daley. The activation of the new station houses and elevators made Pulaski ADA-compliant and fully accessible.

With the opening of the new station houses and entrances, the stairs and fare controls on the east side of Pulaski Road, as well as the platform-level walkways connecting them to the current platforms, were closed pending their possible removal. However, the old stairs, fare control areas, canopies, and connecting walkways remained in place and abandoned for another 10 years.

 

Super-Station Realized... Sort Of

The interior of the outbound station house is seen looking west in the unpaid area on May 27, 2005. The bridge connecting to the Bethel Center can be seen outside the windows on the right. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Although the CTA ultimately built the new Pulaski station without the "super-station" concept suggested in the 1990s, the idea for such a facility wasn't dead. Rather than being built by the CTA or the City, a private group took the lead instead.

Bethel New Life, a faith-based social service agency founded in the wake of riots that devastated Garfield Park and other West Side neighborhoods, developed a commercial and community center at the northwest corner of Pulaski and Lake, adjacent to the new station. The 23,000-square-foot Bethel Center is intended as a hub of activity in Garfield Park, offering employment services, an in-house day care center, Head Start classes, a bank (1st Bank of Oak Park), dry cleaners and a Subway sandwich shop.

The newly-opened Bethel Community Center is seen looking west on May 27, 2005, with the "L" structure and stairs to the outbound platform seen at left. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Designed by Chicago architects Doug Farr and Kevin Pierce, the $4.5 million building also incorporates several "green", or environmentally-friendly, technologies and methods. The building has a green roof, planted with six kinds of sedum and five flowering plants, to lessen storm water runoff, heat absorption in summer and heat loss in winter. Other features include "super" insulation, further reduced heat absorption because of the building's beige color and shading from trees, a sophisticated heat recovery system and automatic light dimmers. At least 25 percent of the building materials contain recycled content. Twenty percent of the materials were shipped from within 500 miles of Chicago, reducing the emission produced by transport. And half the wood used came from forests that are grown and harvested with environmentally friendly methods. It should use only half as much energy as a conventional commercial building. These efforts made the building eligible for the U.S. Green Building Council's gold rating and would is the City of Chicago's first to earn it.

A vestige of the project's origin in the "super-station" concept remains in the form a direct connection between the Pulaski station and the Bethel Center. The center has a covered pedestrian bridge from the building's second floor to the Pulaski Green Line stop's outbound platform-level station house's unpaid area. Besides convenience for passengers, the transit connection also helped with the center's green design: Travel by transit, of course, is cleaner and more environmentally friendly than driving.

The first steel girders for the Bethel Center were set in place during the week of January 4, 2004. The building was completed in a little over a year. The Bethel Center was dedicated at 10:30am on May 19, 2005. The connecting bridge between the outbound platform at Pulaski and the adjacent Bethel Community Center opened at the same time. The bridge is available for use during the community center hours only, which were weekdays from 0900 to 1700 hours at the time the building opened.

The new building is intended to be an anchor for further development in the area.

 

CTA removes the unused sections of platform from Pulaski station by crane as part of the Station Renewal Program on October 29, 2011. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

Pulaski Gets 'Renewed'

On September 20, 2011, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool announced a new CTA station renewal initiative designed to provide a facelift to 100 CTA rail stations over the following 12 months. The first station to receive a renewal was the Logan Square Blue Line station, where the Mayor, Alderman Colon and Claypool made the announcement.

The initiative, performed by work crews called the 'Renew Crew' comprised of different trade workers, focuses on providing repairs in a more efficient way, creating a cleaner, brighter and more appealing station that improves the customer travel experience. Different stations will receive different scopes of work depending on their needs and the available resources, but generally will fall into two categories: basic renewals and expanded renewals. Stations receiving a basic renewal will see more general maintenance-type activities, such as cleaning and power-washing; paint touch-ups; minor repairs to concrete, masonry, metalwork, or woodwork; signage replacement; cleaning or re-lamping of light fixtures; and cleaning and repair of drains and gutters.

Stations receiving an expanded renewal may see a variety of additional activities, depending on the needs of the station. Pulaski Green Line was one example of an expanded scope, which included the removal of the unused portions of the platforms east of Pulaski Road, including the stairs, stringers and supports. Work to remove these sections of platform, which dated from the 1973 and 1996 renovation works, began in mid-October 2011 and was completed at the end of the month.

Pulaski's dual side platforms are seen here looking east from the west end of the station on May 30, 2003. The platforms were built as part of the Green Line's 1994-96 rehab, but the lights, signage, employee overhead bridge, and dual track-level station houses (not visible in background) were built as part of a 1999-2001 capital project that finished what the 1994-96 rehab had started. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)


 

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Car 2225 brings up the rear of a two-car Lake-Dan Ryan "B" train stopping at Pulaski on October 4, 1972. Note the Pulaski platform extensions with still-unfinished canopies. (Photo by Steve Zabel, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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Looking west down the eastbound platform, the building that houses the elevator machinery and controls, as well as other station functions, is nearly complete along the left on January 5, 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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On January 5, 2001, fabrication of the new track-level station house on the eastbound platform is well underway. This area will house the station's new fare controls. In the background is the elevator shaft. The green railing and wire screen keeps the motif of the Green Line and uses materials consistent with other new Green Line stations. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The structure for the track-level station house on the eastbound platform is well underway in this view looking west on January 5, 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The structural steel for the westbound station house is also nearly fabricated, looking northwest on January 5, 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The new Pulaski station, looking west on the evening of March 16, 2001. The nearly finished station houses can be seen on each side. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The new Pulaski station, looking west on the eastbound platform on the evening of March 16, 2001. The unusual employee-only transfer bridge, with its attractive finishes and lights, can be seen here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The short bridge providing a direct entrance from the unpaid area of the Pulaski outbound station house to the 2nd floor of the Bethel Community Center is seen here looking northeast on May 27. 2005. The entrance is only open during the community center's hours of operation. The unfortunate consequence of having dual track-level station houses at Pulaski is that if one wanted to get from the Bethel Center to the inbound platform they'd have to go down to street-level in any case, since there is no connection between the station houses. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Consisting largely of curtain walls with large picture windows and louver vents in an aluminum framework, one of the relatively simple 2001-built station houses at Pulaski -- in this case, the outbound one -- is seen looking northeast from the inbound platform on May 27. 2005. The platform on the left (currently in use) dates from 1996, while the wooden platform on the right formerly connected the 1996 platforms to the old 1973 fare controls during the years before the station houses were built. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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CTA crews work to remove the unused sections of platform east of Pulaski Road as part of the improvements made at Pulaski station as part of the Station Renewal Program. This view looks east on the disused portion of the outbound platform on October 29, 2011, with the Downtown Chicago skyline in the background. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)
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CTA crews remove a section of railing near the current platform-level station house the unused portion of the inbound platform as part of the improvements made at Pulaski station as part of the Station Renewal Program. This view looks southeast on October 29, 2011. Most of the old platform has been removed, and after work is complete the platform will end at this point. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)
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A CTA flatbed trailer truck is used to haul away sections of the disused portions of the Pulaski station platforms. A crane has just finished setting a platform section on the trailer to be hauled away, seen looking south on Pulaski Road on October 29, 2011 with the Green Line elevated in the background. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)