The Ashland station, alternately known as the Englewood Transit Terminal, opened in 1969 when Howard-Englewood "A" service was extended 1/4 mile west from Loomis. In this view looking northeast, a mixed North-South Route train of flat- and curved-door 6000s is stopped on the elevated above, while 8700-series Flxible propane bus stops for surface riders in the bus terminal. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from CTA Collection)
63rd Street and Ashland Avenue, West Englewood
Green Line: Ashland Branch
Park'n'Ride: 235 spaces
Address: 6315 S. Ashland Avenue
Established: May 6, 1969
Original Line: North-South Route, Englewood branch
Previous Names: Ashland
Status: In Use
The Ashland station house is
seen looking north in 1998 with a Green Line train
Though still in the design stage in 1967, construction proceeded quickly and in 1968, a new car shop was built near the Racine station to replace the meager facilities at Loomis. The Loomis Yard was extended west to a point just east of the Ashland station. Yard capacity was increased from 136 to 200 cars. The tracks actually were extended a few blocks west of Ashland to Hermitage Avenue to allow trains to turn ends without blocking the platform. The new terminal facility opened in 1969.
Designed by the Bureau of Architecture of the Department of Public Works of the City of Chicago, Ashland is very typical of structures built around suburbia in the 1950s and 1960s. While the cantilevers, hipped roofs and broad eaves are inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, the absence of ornamental features shows the influence of the Bauhaus.
The station was designed with a single island platform and a street-level station house on the east side of Ashland Avenue. The platform was covered by a flat angled canopy that ran nearly its entire length. An auxiliary exit at the west end of the platform provided access to the west side of Ashland Avenue and southbound buses on Ashland. The primary station house was largely located underneath the elevated structure, although its south end projected out from under the structure, providing one of the facility's signature features with its broad, angled, cantilevered eaves. Inside, the station had an open and spacious interior with white-tiled walls. Two entrances provided access, one angled southwest facing Ashland Avenue and the other southeast facing the bus terminal. Inside, between these two doorways on the south wall, was a built-in newsstand. The fare array divided the station interior just north of the doors, with three specially-designed, angular ticket agent's booths: one freestanding island-type booth, and two more integrated into the walls at each end of the fare controls. Beyond the turnstiles was a spacious paid area, with two sets of stairs and treadle-controlled escalators. In the northwest corner of the paid area were two rotogate auxiliary exits, providing egress to the northwest corner of the station site nearer to the corner of Ashland and 63rd.
The open and airy interior of the Ashland/63rd station, seen looking north in the unpaid area shortly after opening in 1969. Note the rather 1960s-looking agents' booths, fare control barriers, and hanging backlit signs. The freestanding island agent's booth has since been removed, as have the turnstiles and signs. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the CTA Collection)
Perhaps the station's most recognizable element is a tall decorative spire located in the bus terminal, south of the station entrance along 63rd Street. The tall marker has a triangular pylon that ends in a point with a three-sided backlit marker on the top consisting of a CTA logo on each of the street sides.
The project also included the construction of a new transportation office above the Ashland platform. Located at the east end of the platform, this building, with its angled roofline and windows all the way around held up far above the station canopy, is often easily mistaken for a control tower. In fact, this Transportation Office is a headquarters for operating personnel and line supervision. Inside are a breakroom, restrooms, lockers, clerks, and offices for the South Section of the North-South Route (today, for the South Elevated section of the Green Line). Upon the station opening, the South Section's administrative headquarters and superintendent's office relocated here from 61st Street Yard, although a part-time office was opened at 61st and used for several decades.
Green Line RenovationOn February 21, 1993, the South Side Englewood-Jackson Park service, formerly paired with the Howard service and forming the North-South Route, was repaired with the Lake Street service and formed the CTA's new Green Line.
On January 9, 1994, the Green Line closed for a two-year rehabilitation. All stations on the line, including Ashland/63rd, closed for renovation. In 1991, the CTA identified Ashland/63rd as one of 35 stations to be upgraded to be handicap accessible (and one of 21 to be finished by 1996). So, an elevator was added in the Green Line renovation project, making the station ADA accessible. When the new, modern Cubic TransitCard turnstiles were installed, the center island ticket agent's booth was removed. The side booths remain, the west one used by the Customer Assistant and the east one generally unused. The station sports a green and white color scheme, denoting the terminal's place on the Green Line.
The North-South Route (Temporarily) Returns, Thrice
In 2013, the CTA launched the Red Line South Reconstruction Project, a track renewal project to rebuild the Dan Ryan branch tracks from the bottom up, excavating down to the bottom of the trackbed to rebuild the underground drainage system then installing new ballast, ties, and tracks. Some modest station improvements were also performed. In order to perform the work more quickly and cost-effectively, the CTA closed the Dan Ryan branch for five months while work was performed. During that time, there would be no 'L' service on the Dan Ryan branch south of Roosevelt station.
As part of the alternate service plan for Dan Ryan riders, Red Line trains were rerouted via the old 13th Street Incline from the State Street Subway to the South Side Elevated, where they operated to Ashland/63rd via the South Side Elevated tracks in a pattern reminiscent of the old Howard-Englewood "A" trains of the North-South Route days.
Red Line service to Ashland/63rd began on Sunday, May 19, 2013. Following the five-month track reconstruction and renovation work on the Dan Ryan, Red Line service to 95th resumed at 4am, Sunday, October 20, 2013. At the same time, Red Line service via the South Side Elevated and Englewood branch was annulled and Green Line trains resumed service to Ashland/63rd, alternating between the two 63rd Street terminal branches.
Red Line service between Howard and Ashland/63rd via the South Side Elevated returned temporarily in 2017, although it was only select trains and only during weekday rush periods; during most times, normal service via the Dan Ryan branch continued. The diversion was necessitated by the $280 million 95th Terminal Improvement Project to expand and greatly improve the 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line station -- as construction continued on the new terminal, including foundations and structural steel work next to the tracks, track alignment work, and platform construction, CTA needed to close both the east and west platform tracks (at separate times), severely constraining capacity during rush and requiring a reduction in the number of trains in and out of the station.
On April 3, 2017, CTA began rerouting some Red Line trains, primarily in the off-peak direction, for a few hours each weekday onto the Green Line to or from the Ashland/63rd station. Reroutes onto the south Green Line in the off-peak direction took place in the morning (7:56 to 9:14am) and evening (4:40 to 5:58pm) rush periods (times at Roosevelt, just north of the diversion point); there were also a small number of trains that operated between Ashland/63rd and Howard in the peak direction, though primarily for car-balancing purposes. CTA officials said the reroute affected less than 10 percent of all Red Line trains.
The diversion of select rush period Red Line trains to/from Ashland/63rd lasted for approximately six months, with the last Howard-Ashland/63rd trains running Wednesday evening, November 22, 2017.
The Red Line Ashland/63rd service resumed on July 30, 2018, to allow additional work in, over and around the platform tracks at 95th/Dan Ryan; the last day of this iteration of the service last ran on April 26, 2019.
Two Englewood-Howard "A" trains -- one led by car 2457 on the right, one of 6000s on the left -- await departure times at the Englewood terminal at Ashland/63rd on August 17, 1978. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Doug Grotjahn, Collection of Joe Testagrose)