New L station blossoms on Green Line


By Annie Sweeney

Date of Publication: June 28, 2001
Source: Chicago Sun-Times


Garfield Park ponds sweep to the south, and the Conservatory is just steps to the north. Peek around to the east, and there's Lucy Flower High School.

CTA officials think they've found the perfect spot for the renovated and historically preserved Conservatory station on the Green Line. The stop at Central Park Drive opens to the public Saturday.

A husband and wife visiting from Michigan, trekking Wednesday up Lake Street, couldn't have agreed more. The couple got off the Green Line at Kedzie late in the afternoon and walked -- map in hand -- four city blocks only to find the Garfield Park Conservatory had closed. And, they added, it wasn't "the nicest" area through which to stroll.

"You almost give up before you get here," said one of the slightly spent tourists, who didn't want their names used.

"I'm not coming back tomorrow," his wife added. "It's just not convenient enough."

Come 6 a.m. Saturday, tourists and everyone else will be able to use the station, which has stairs that descend into the green grass of Garfield Park. The park's massive Gold Dome field house is a short walk from there.

The station, which has been restored to reflect its original 1893 design, was taken apart at its former location at Homan, which had closed in 1992 over some community complaints. Components were tagged and moved two blocks west to Central Park, where it was pieced together and restored in a $7 million project that began in October 1999.

The restoration is part of an agreement between the CTA and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which had designated the station eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Under the agreement, about 20 stations were targeted for some type of restoration, but this work was some of the most expansive, said Glenn C. Zika, vice president for engineering at the CTA.

Original timberwood, decorative steel corner reinforcements, finials -- decorative curlicues on the outside of the station -- and cupolas are featured in the new green and muddy-red station. Slanted ceilings and a wooden interior have been replicated. Outside, decorative sheet metal reliefs, hand-railing iron designs and canopy supports have been recast and replicated. Historic lighting was added as well.

"It was a big operation," Zika said. "It's beautiful to see it. . . . No one would ever build a station like this."

Terrence Green, 33, brings his 4-year-old son to the Conservatory at least once a month from Hyde Park. He said the new stop will be a welcome change from taking the Madison bus and cutting across Garfield Park.

"It will make it so much more convenient," Green said. "It's pretty tough to know how to get here if you're a tourist."

Other neighbors said they won't miss the walk to either Kedzie or Pulaski to catch a train to the city.