Left: The station house at Racine, looking southwest in July 2001. For a larger view, click here. Right: The station house at Loomis, looking southeast in July 2001. For a larger view, click here. These station houses started at as nearly identical -- and still appear so the exterior -- although today Loomis retains more of its original interior arrangement and equipment. (Photos by Graham Garfield)

Racine

(1200W/430S) Racine

(1400W/430S) Loomis

Between Racine and Loomis Avenues and the Eisenhower Expressway, Near West Side

Service Notes:

Blue Line: Forest Park-Cermak

Owl Service

Quick Facts:

Address:

430 S. Racine Avenue (Racine entrance)

430 S. Loomis Avenue (Loomis entrance)

Established: June 22, 1958
Original Line: West-Northwest Route, Congress branch
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:

Station

Rebuilt: n/a
Status: In Use

History:

The Racine platform, as seen from the Loomis Avenue overpass. The ramp on the left goes to Loomis; the one on the right goes up to Racine Street. For a larger view, click here. (Photos by Graham Garfield)

The original Racine station of the Metropolitan West Side "L" (named for Racine's first name, Centre Street) was in what would now probably be the westbound lane of the Eisenhower Expressway. The Metropolitan's main shop at Centre Street and their Loomis Street Power House were also where the current Racine station is. Built as part of the Met's main line in 1895, this station and the rest of the main line and Garfield Park branch were demolished in 1953 while the Congress Street Expressway was being constructed. The plan included a novel concept: a rapid transit line in the median of an expressway, making a sort of transit corridor. The "new" Congress Line thus provided no net gain for the "L" system.

Racine is nearly identical to every other station built in the Eisenhower Expressway, including an island platform, a small station house on Racine's and Loomis's overpass containing only a ticket booth and turnstiles and a long, enclosed, sloping passageway/ramp connecting the two. A brochure, published by the City of Chicago to commemorate the initiation of service June 22, 1958, describes the stations this way:

Each station platform in the expressway right-of-way is the island type, 600 feet long and canopied throughout its entire length. Supported by structural aluminum columns, the canopy extends beyond the platform edge and over the roofs of cars....

The fare collection building is about 42 ft x 21 ft. The more important stops are located between two cross bridges separated by about 1/4 mile and there is a station house and access ramp at each end.

In February 1973 (a year for extreme CTA® service cuts), the Loomis entrance to Racine closed as a cost-cutting measure, but was retained as an exit. In 1977, the Loomis entrance was reopened for entrance from 1415 to 1640 hours on school days only, to service a nearby school. It was short-lived, as the entrance closed once again in 1981. In 1988, the back-and-forth continued, with Loomis reopening for entrance between 1415 and 1800 hours Monday-Friday only, presumably again to service the nearby school. The Loomis entrance has since returned to full-time status and is regularly used. It is particularly busy around 3pm when school lets out. No matter how many times you tell them, all the kids wait to add value to their TransitCards until they get to the station after school, resulting in a line down the Loomis Avenue bridge!

The interior of the Racine entrance, seen here on October 26, 2003, has many of its original features, including the agent's booth, overhead sign and backlit graphic, and the tile and glass block walls. The grillework above the agent's booth is a remnant of a complex system of swinging gates the station originally had. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

At a press conference on Monday, June 5, 2000, CTA® President Frank Kruesi announced that beginning Saturday, June 10th and Sunday, June 11th, six downtown area 'L' and subway stations and seven station entrances that were currently closed late at night or on weekends would be open at all hours that trains are in service. One of the seven secondary station entrances was was a Part-Time Entrance -- closed nights and weekends -- was the Loomis entrance to Racine station. Starting at 0600 hours Saturday, June 10th, Loomis entrance returned to 24-hour operation. Opening these stations and entrances is just one of the components of a $539,000 service improvement package that was passed by the Chicago Transit Board in May 2000.

The CTA's® 2002-2006 Capital Improvement Plan included a $3,070,161 project to design replacement facilities for five rapid transit stations, including Racine on the Congress branch of the Blue Line. These station would be accessible when reconstruction is complete. Initial funding would provide for station design only. Post FY 2007 funding will be required to reconstruct the station.

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. The "Front Door Program" includes making improvements to station entrances, enhancing connections to bus routes and improving bicycle access and storage facilities. Upgrades will include station identification signage, new fencing, improved lighting systems, and other amenities. Seven stations are scheduled for entrance upgrades as part of the initiative, including Racine. Funding for this contract is provided by the FTA and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). Bids for a contractor will go out in 2004.

The Racine island platform, looking west near the Racine entrance in July 2001. Except for recent benches, tactile stripping, and windbreaks and 1970s KDR-style signage, it has changed little since the day it opened. Note all the extra space on either side of the tracks: the Congress Line was built with extra room for the installation of two express tracks (as-yet unrealized). For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)


 

racine.racine01.jpg (49k)
The Racine Street entrance to the Racine station on the Forest Park-Cermak Line in March 1998. The station house is identical to nearly all others in the Eisenhower Expressway. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

racine.racine04.jpg (140k)
The interior of the Racine station house is visible at the top of the long ramp from the platform, seen looking east on October 26, 2003. The blue gates on the left, now always locked, once provided access to a second agent's position during high traffic hours. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

racine03.jpg (139k)
Like most stations, time brought several additions to the Racine platform, seen looking east on October 26, 2003. The sandbox and supervisor's booth are both later additions, and the stainless steel windbreak on the left replaces an original model of a different design. The University of Illinois at Chicago's University Hall tower is in the distance on the right, while the Racine station itself provides convenient access to UIC's Pavilion and Student Services Building. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

racine04.jpg (136k)
The Racine island platform, seen looking west toward to Loomis entrance on October 26, 2003, is typical in design for the Congress stations, with purely practical and functional forms and methods of construction. The wide spaces on either side of the tracks are for express tracks, yet to be installed. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

tour03@Racine01.jpg (147k)
The tour group is tightly assembled on the island platform at Racine station during the 5th Annual Historic "L" Station Tour on October 26, 2003, while tour guide Graham Garfield described the history and design of the station over the roar of the adjacent expressway traffic. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

cta2166.jpg (118k)
A two-car westbound Douglas-Milwaukee "B" train, led by car 2166 in its Mint Green and Alpine White paint scheme, stops at Racine on July 20, 1968. (Photo by Doug Grotjahn, Collection of Joe Testagrose)