'L' Station Gets a Look Perfect for Chinatown


By Karen Rivedal

Date of Publication: January 31, 2002
Source: Chicago Tribune


When retired Chinatown chef Yuen Hing Moy volunteered to help decorate the elevated train station in his neighborhood, he wanted his contribution to honor his native country's past.

So Moy, 67, chose to depict the Great Wall of China, built more than 2,000 years ago to defend against marauding northern tribes and one of the country's enduring symbols.

His winding, delicately drawn design, tinted green, brown and black to reflect the wall's mountain setting, covers a large glass window on the platform level of the Red Line's Cermak-Chinatown Station.

The painting was unveiled Wednesday at a ceremony welcoming the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce as the 27th participant in the CTA's Adopt-A-Station program, which lets groups or individuals rehab one of the CTA's 144 "L" stations to reflect the surrounding neighborhood's history and diversity.

The Chinatown chamber enlisted community youths and seniors from the Chinese American Service League to fill the station's walls and windows with paintings, masks, statues and murals that celebrate Chinese culture.

Moy's work, like the other window paintings in the station, spans a space nearly 6 feet high by 3 feet wide. Other window works depict the Chinese lotus flower, a symbol of purity, and cranes, which represent longevity, said Erica Chung, executive director of the Chinatown chamber.

Elsewhere in the station, two white statues, known as "foo dogs," grace a space next to the "up" escalator and serve as good-luck charms for a safe trip, Chung said. Elaborate tile murals on the outside walls welcome visitors in English and Chinese, while paintings below the murals show Chinatown unfolding just south of a steel-gray Loop skyline.

Chinatown Chamber President Ray Spaeth said the project could translate into increased revenues for the 200 shops and restaurants he represents. By raising the profile of the neighborhood, he said, more CTA riders may be inclined to stop in Chinatown for shopping and dining.