13th Tower
13th Street and State Street,
Near South Side

Service Notes:

Red Line: State Street Subway

Quick Facts:

Established: 1943
Original Line: State Street Subway
Rebuilt: n/a
Status: In Use



The State Street Subway -- otherwise known as Route No. 1 of Chicago's Initial System of Subways -- was built between 1938 and 1943 as a 4.9-mile long route beginning at Armitage on the North Side and winding south to downtown. The tunnels stay under State Street through downtown to 13th Street on the Near South Side, where a complex "flying junction" is located. This junction is controlled by 13th Street Tower, located by the south end of the Roosevelt station platform.

At 13th Street, one set of tubes continued under State Street for a short distance, then stopped -- in the 1939 Comprehensive Plan for the Extension of the Subway System of the City of Chicago, this route was intended for use by a future subway under Archer Avenue to the Southwest Side, to be built as part of the plan's third phase. The other set of tubes turns southeast and ascends to the surface where the track join the South Side Elevated at 17th Junction. Although not used as an active junction when the subway began service, it was designed and built to be used as such and, for the sake of efficiency when that occurred, none of the tracks cross at-grade. At 13th Street, a center track began, connected to both Tracks A and B, and descended down underneath the southbound track (Track B) as it curved southeast to the 13th Street Portal to connect to the South Side Elevated. This track would've connected to the northbound track of the Archer Avenue Subway, but was instead used to turn back trains or for car storage, as needed.

In November 1985, officials from the City of Chicago and the CTA broke ground on the project to unite the Howard and Dan Ryan lines via a new subway connection, creating a new through-routing that is today known as the Red Line. The project, which was budgeted at $142 million in '85, included a cut-and-cover subway connection between the Dan Ryan Line and State Street Subway. The new tunnel extended from just north of the Cermak-Chinatown station at 18th and Clark to connect to the tunnel south of 13th Junction originally intended for the Archer Avenue Subway. Construction of the new tunnel took nearly five years. On October 25, 1990, the 13th street center track was removed from service for construction. The swap of the North-South and West-South routes officially occurred on February 21, 1993.

Beginning on February 23, 1993, 13th Tower was staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week due to trains being routed through new subway connector by means of manual block. The tower coverage removed from 13th Tower on May 24, 1993 and all manual block operation was discontinued.

13th Tower is not normally staffed, since under normal operations trains do not diverge and merge at 13th Junction; they just run straight through on the Red Line. The former North-South Route trackage between 13th Junction and 17th Junction on the South Side Elevated, sometimes informally referred to as the "13th Street Incline", is currently only used for equipment moves and for occasional times when the Red Line is run "over the top" (i.e. via the elevated tracks instead of the State Street Subway) between 13th and Cermak junctions due to either planned construction or maintenance, or due to an emergency.


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