CTA gives its newest 'L' stop bit of past


By Sean D. Hamill

Date of Publication: June 28, 2001
Source: Chicago Tribune


On Saturday, for the first time anyone can recall, the Chicago Transit Authority will open a new elevated train station using a relocated, historic building.

That alone would make the $7 million, two-year-long project to create the "Conservatory-Central Park Drive" stop on the Green Line notable.

But the station is also part of a wider attempt by the City of Chicago to help spur redevelopment of the surrounding East and West Garfield Park, two neighborhoods that have suffered for decades from lack of investment, high crime and a loss of population.

The station's opening comes as various efforts have started to reverse that trend. Small pockets of new homes, each selling for $145,000, have gone up near Garfield Park, restored brownstones sell for $250,000 and the main business district along Madison Street hums with activity.

The CTA thinks it can help keep such improvements going.

"It's a real asset to the Garfield Park community and a symbol of how public transit can do more than just move people. It can become an integral and vibrant part of the community it serves," said CTA Chairman Valerie Jarrett.

The new station is at Lake Street and Central Park Drive, just feet from the entrance to one of Chicago's hidden gems -- the Garfield Park Conservatory -- and a block away from another -- the Garfield Park Fieldhouse and its landmark Golden Dome -- as well as right next to Lucy Flower Career Academy.

The CTA went to great lengths to construct an appealing and complementary elevated station, relocating the former cupola-topped Homan Avenue station house, originally constructed in 1893, to the Conservatory-Central Park Drive stop.

The CTA is hoping that the new station will encourage more people to ride the Green Line as it continues to make a comeback after being shut down for two years for renovations that began in 1994.