The Greek Revival-style Racine station is seen boarded and unused, looking west on July 23, 2007. The station house has a high level of historical integrity, with few changes to its original architecture, though its maintenance has been minimal. Racine Shops is visible overhanging the south part of the building on the left. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Racine (6300S/1200W)
Racine Avenue and 63rd Street, Englewood

Service Notes:

Green Line: Englewood branch

Quick Facts:

Address: 6314-16 S. Racine Avenue
Established: February 25, 1907
Original Line: South Side Elevated Railroad, Englewood branch
Previous Names: Center Street

Skip-Stop Type:

Station

Rebuilt: n/a
Status: Abandoned

History:

The Englewood branch of the South Side Rapid Transit began construction in 1903. It opened in segments, beginning November 3, 1905 with a shuttle from the main line at 58th Street to State Street. By December 10 it was extended to Wentworth and Princeton (actually 61st Street) on January 11, 1906. The next segment to Harvard Street opened November 3 (the victim of a 226-day iron workers' strike). Parnell and Halsted to the opened just in time for last minute Christmas shopping on December 24. On February 25, 1907, the branch was extended to Center Street (now Racine Avenue), opening the station there. The rest of the line was opened to its terminal at Loomis Blvd on July 13, 1907.

The Racine station is seen looking southwest on July 23, 2007. The removal of adjacent buildings provides an unusually good view of the complex, with the historic masonry station house is visible under the elevated structure and the original latticed platform canopy above. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The facility at Racine consists of a grade-level station house on the west side of the street, with stairs from the rear of the building leading to dual side boarding platforms at the elevated track level. The station was constructed in 1905-06, designed by architect Earl Nielson, engineered by Charles Weston of the South Side Elevated Railroad Company staff and built by the American Bridge Company of New York.

The 40' by 40' station house is constructed of brick with copper and wood trim, stone sills and limestone column bases executed in the Greek Revival style. The most prominent feature of the front elevation is the triangular pediment above the front windows and doorway, which along with the articulated cornice, triglyphs and pilasters made the building resemble a Doric temple. The front elevation has a center doorway for entry flanked by windows on each side. The building is flanked on each end by a side hallway, which leads from the front elevation to the rear, bypassing the interior fare control area. These could be used for auxiliary exiting or entry during pay-on-train periods. At the end of the station's service life, they were used for exiting only, regulated by high-barrier rotogates.

The interior was built with wooden floors and plaster walls and ceiling. Window and door frames are wooden. A vestibule was located at the front doorway. The rear doorways leading to the platforms are located in the northwest corner of the interior, while a restroom and porter's closet are located in the southwest corner. An ornate wooden ticket agent's booth was located in the middle of the north half of the interior.

From the back of the station house, a stairway leads up to a mezzanine level, then splits into two stairways to each of the station's dual side platforms. The platforms are typical of those on the Englewood branch, with wood decking on a steel structure. The canopies are supported from the back of the platform, with steel arched supports and latticework along the back and a hipped corrugated metal roof. The original pipe railings were later replaced with simple angle iron. The original shepherd's crook light fixtures with incandescent bulbs were also later replaced with box-shaped sodium vapor lights.

On July 31, 1949, the CTA instituted its North-South Route service revision, which included a number of station closures and the institution of A/B skip-stop service during heavy ridership periods. Under skip-stop service, trains on the mainline skipped alternating lower-ridership stations (designated as "A" or "B" stations) to provide faster service. All A trains served the Englewood branch, while all B trains served the Jackson Park branch. All Englewood stations were "A" stations, including Racine, effectively meaning services on the branches were all local. The South Side Elevated, including the branches, became part of the Green Line on February 21, 1993 when the through-routes of the former North-South Route and West-South Route were swapped. In later years, the wood and metal parts of the station house, platform canopies, and railings were painted hues of dark red, salmon, and yellow-cream, as many stations in the 1970s and 80s were painted in various multi-toned schemes. A concession stand was also later built against the south wall of the interior, opposite the agent's booth.

On January 9, 1994, the Green Line closed for a two-year rehabilitation. All stations on the line, including Racine, closed, but unlike most other stations Racine did not reopen. During the renovation, CTA decided to close some stations permanently to control the costs of the renovation project, improve operations, and reduce operating costs when the line reopened. Stations were identified for closure that were too close to other stations or, like Racine, had relatively low ridership with little immediate chance of improving use. The station closings were controversial in local communities, with residents and community leaders claiming that the CTA had reneged on its promise to reopen the stations and that the closures would hinder economic development in poorer communities.1 While the CTA still chose to keep the station closed, they did not demolish it. However, the choice to retain the facility had less to do with its future potential for reopening than with its status as a historic station per a memorandum of agreement between the CTA and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency signed in the 1980s, which designated a number of stations as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places based on their architectural and/or historic merit. Presently, the CTA has no plans to reopen the station.

The station house and platform have been altered little and are in relatively good condition. However, some elements such as the pressed metal ornament in the station house cornice and pediment are beginning to deteriorate without regular maintenance, giving the station an uncertain future. The left (south) half of the pressed metal pediment deteriorated to the point where it was removed by CTA forces in 2016 as a safety precaution; the right half of the pediment, which is better protected by the elevated track structure above, remains in place. Racine is the last of the original 1906 Englewood stations left.

 

A view of the 1906-vintage platforms and canopies in situ at the abandoned Racine/63, looking west on the inbound platform with the 2001 Historic Station Tour charter train in the station on November 4, 2001. Racine Shops is on the left. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)


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Racine station sign, from the brief period (1993-94) after the Englewood was rerouted to the Lake Line, but before it was closed down one year later. Note that this A station sign is blue (instead of the A station-standard red). (Sign from the collection of Graham Garfield)

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The close-up of the entablature and cornice on the top of the Racine station front elevation, seen on November 4, 2001, shows the classic Greek Revival details included in the station's design. The narrow architrave "supporting" the pilasters, painted yellow-cream, gives way to the dark red-painted frieze punctuated by salmon-colored triglyphs. As is typical in Greek Revival architecture, this is topped by a cornice, in this case one that projects out with a shallow eave. The eave's ornamentation consists of an inset diamond pattern alternated with a rectangular block called a mutule immediately over/aligned with each triglyph, decorated on its under-surface with six rows of six guttae, descending cylindrical, peg-like projections. These details make the Racine station's architecture a classic example of this style of design. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The Classical Revival architecture of the Racine station provides a picturesque backdrop and interesting subject for 2001 Historic Station Tour guide Graham Garfield on November 4, 2001. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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Racine station provided a number of interesting subjects for the 2001 Historic Station Tour, including the abandoned Classical Revival station house at street level, the old steel latticed platform canopies, and the modern Racine Shops next door, all visible in this photo looking northwest from the east side of South Racine Avenue on November 4, 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Keith Letsche says a few words as the tour members return to the platform from street level for a final look around before reboarding the train during the 2001 Historic Station Tour on November 4, 2001. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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2001 Historic Station Tour charter train car 2479 has boarded its passengers and it ready to head to its next destination on November 4, 2001. The platforms at the closed Racine station, though looking a bit rough with peeling paint and little cleaning, are actually in fairly good shape. There is a small bit rust-jacking on some of the canopy columns, however. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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2001 Historic Station Tour guide Graham Garfield describes the architecture and history of the closed Racine station on November 4, 2001. (Photo by Frank Hashimoto)

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The underside of the canopy on the outbound Racine platform is seen looking east on March 2, 2003. This view shows the canopy's hipped roof design, with curved brackets supporting the canopy from a row of columns along the back. A latticed band along the back under the canopy is largely decorative. Aside from different paint and lights, the canopy is largely as-built. The original railings were replaced with angle iron at some undetermined date. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Racine Shops is seen looking northwest on Racine Avenue on July 23, 2007. The whole shop building is elevated on columns, which puts its main floor at the level of the elevated train yard west of the building and allows it to clear the roof of the Racine station house, which extends out from under the elevated structure. The overlap between the two can be seen in the middle of the photo, and the station canopy up above is visible projected out from beyond the shop building. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The Racine station platform is seen looking east on March 27, 2011 from the rear of IRM's 2011 Snowflake Special charter train. The platforms and canopies are structurally intact, but in the absence of regular maintenance the platform decking has deteriorated over the years. The signs on the end of the platforms reminds train operators that Racine is not a passenger stop, and informs all personnel that no one should walk on the platforms. (Photo by Dennis Herbuth)

Notes:

  1. Wu, Olivia. "Coalition Protests Green Line Closings". Chicago Tribune, 28 February 1996.