St. Louis Avenue and Harrison Street, East Garfield Park
Original Line: Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad, Garfield Park branch
The Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban used the Garfield Park branch to reach downtown Chicago through a reciprocal trackage rights agreement from February 23, 1905 to September 20, 1953. The CA&E only stopped at a handful of "L" stations, so fast interurban expresses would often catch up to the slower "L" locals. This was especially problematic because the Garfield Park branch only had two tracks, one in each direction, which did not allow for expresses to pass locals.
Construction of additional tracks was found to cost prohibitive, so tower-controlled interlockings and passing tracks were installed at strategic locations. The easternmost of these was at St. Louis Avenue and consisted of two diamond crossovers on either side of St. Louis station. An interlocking tower was built on the inbound platform to control the crossovers. This installation, placed in operation in 1911, allowed interurban and "L" express trains to be routed around local "L" trains stopped in St. Louis station. The other passing locations were at Laramie, Gunderson, and Desplaines.
When the CTA took over in 1947, the Garfield Park branch was a tangled series of complex schedules involving multiple express and local services in addition to CA&E interurbans running over the same tracks. With only two tracks and passing tracks and interlockings at only four locations, schedules were extremely complex and fragile. Schedule adherence was essential and any delay meant that the conglomeration of different trains got in each others' way. As a result, following its successful introduction on the Lake Street and North-South Route in 1948 and 1949, respectively, the CTA decided to simplify, streamline, and expedite service on the Garfield Line by introducing A/B skip stop all-express service.
A/B skip stop service began on the Garfield Line on December 9, 1951. As a result, expresses and locals were discontinued. All "L" trains either made alternating skip stops or simply made all stops during off-peak periods. Although the CA&E interurbans which made limited stops on the "L" remained, the schedule was greatly simplified and it was no longer necessary to have several passing locations along the Garfield Line. On the same day, the St. Louis Interlocking and tower were removed from service, no longer needed to coordinate scheduled train movements. The diamond crossover west of the St. Louis station was subsquently removed, while the diamond crossover east of the station was converted to manual hand-throw operation. St. Louis station remained in use until 1958 when the Congress Line replaced the Garfield Line and the new Kedzie-Homan station opened a block north.
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