No, this isn't King Drive. It's the University station, looking south in 1985.. Except for the shape of the panes of glass in the windows, the two stations were identical. By 1985, the station was in bad need of repair, never having received the overhaul it was promised only three years before. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the Collection of Michael Roegner)

University (1200E/6300S)
University Avenue and 63rd Street, Woodlawn

Service Notes:

Green Line: Jackson Park branch

Quick Facts:

Address: 1200 E. 63rd Street
Established: April 23, 1893
Original Line: South Side Rapid Transit
Previous Names: Lexington Avenue

Skip-Stop Type:

Station

Rebuilt: n/a
Status: Demolished

History:

Mayor Byrne addresses a platform crowd at the reopening of the University Avenue rapid transit station on the Jackson Park elevated branch. Accompanying the mayor are (from left to right) Committeeman Ray Castro, 7th Ward; CTA Board Member Howard Medley; Alderman Tyrone Kenner, 3rd Ward; TWO President Leon Finney; City Treasurer Cecil Partee; and CTA Chairman Michael Cardilli. The pilasters framing the doors resemble those at King Drive, indicating similar architecture. (Photo from CTA Transit News)

University, originally called Lexington Avenue, opened April 23, 1893 as part of the South Side Rapid Transit's extension from 39th Street to Jackson Park for the World's Columbian Exposition. The design and ornamental details on this station are identical to those on the original station at King Drive a mile west, which would appear to establish a common architect. (Some have conjectured they were designed by William Gibb, who also designed several stations on the Northwestern Elevated main line.) This station, and King Drive, featured decorated pilasters, large double-hung windows and unique ornamentation in the pediment, giving the structure a Colonial Revival feel.

The Columbian Exposition proved to be both a blessing and a problem for the South Side Rapid Transit. The "L" proved to be a popular way to get to the exposition and ridership was strong. But just as the fair boosted ridership, the closure of the fair in October 1893 caused it to crash quickly. Many areas that the South Side "L" ran through were still sparsely populated in the 1890s and after the fair closed there was little traffic to support some stations. Two decades later a long-time "L" trainman recalled that, "for a long time after the World's Fair the stations at South Park and University avenues were closed, as there was no traffic at those points."1 Both stations subsequently reopened as the neighborhoods around them developed and became more populated.

Around 1970, the CTA required inbound boarding only at University, in effect until it became the terminal in 1982 (when you couldn't go eastbound anyway).

On March 4, 1982, service on the Jackson Park branch was suspended south of 61st Street due to structural defects in the Dorchester bridge over the Illinois Central Railroad. The City Department of Transportation come up with a number of responses, which included cutting service to Dorchester on the west side of the IC tracks, abandoning the Jackson Park branch altogether and replacing the IC bridge and restoring service to the Stony Island terminal, the latter of which Mayor Byrne supported. On December 12, 1982, service was restored as far as this stop. The defective bridge was later demolished.

The CTA and city spent $56 million modernizing the branch and the three reopened stations. Then-Mayor Jane Byrne announced a four-point program that included working closely with the Woodlawn community and The Woodlawn Organization (TWO) to promote economic development along East 63rd Street and building a new Jackson Park branch terminal at Dorchester, providing direct access to the Illinois Central commuter line and a CTA bus terminal.

On December 18, 1993, the northeast and southeast stairways at University station were closed.

University remained the east terminal of the Jackson Park line until the Green Line closed for renovation in 1994. Maps began to list Dorchester, a few blocks east, as the terminus just before the closing, anticipating a new terminal facility that was to be completed there by the time the line renovation was completed, but this never came to pass. University never reopened after the Green Line reentered service in May 1996, when Cottage Grove-East 63rd became the end of the line. This station and rest of the East 63rd branch east of Cottage Grove remained abandoned, pending a decision on its future, which came in September, 1997: its demolition.

 

A view from the University eastbound platform looking west, with Cottage Grove station in the distance, in 1985. The inbound station house is on the right. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the Collection of Michael Roegner)


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Car 4293, in its orange and green paint scheme, is at the rear of a Jackson Park train stopping at University in the top photo. Below, car 4306 is on the rear of a northbound Howard Express train at the same location. Flag holders were added to the rapid transit cars starting in 1929, flags were flown on holidays, a practice the Surface Lines and Chicago Motor Coach also followed. This custom is still observed by Pace, the suburban bus operating division of the RTA. (Photo from the Jeff Obarek collection)

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Car 6372 leads a northbound Jackson Park-Howard "B" train (although it is actually going west here) at University on October 2, 1972. (Photo by Steve Zabel, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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Looking east toward a 2600-series Jackson Park B train heading to the crossover to return back west in 1985. Visible in the distance are the remains of the Dorchester station, the Dorchester bridge, and the tall brown building on the right is the Illinois Central Terminal building. (Photo from the Collection of Michael Roegner)

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Same view as university04.jpg, only with a closer view of Cottage Grove. (Photo from the Collection of Michael Roegner)

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Same view as university03.jpg, with a close-up of the Dorchester station remains and IC bridge. (Photo from the Collection of Michael Roegner)

 

Notes:

1. "Reminiscences of an "L" Trainman." The Elevated News. 1920 February, p. 10.