The main entrance to the Cicero station, looking northwest in Cicero Avenue in 1999. It's simple, modern, utilitarian design is typical of facilities designed in the 1970s, such as Central Park and Pulaski further east on the Douglas branch. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the Chicago Transit Authority Collection)

Cicero (4800W/2200S)
Cicero Avenue and 21st Place, Town of Cicero

Service Notes:

Pink Line: Cermak (Douglas)

Accessible Station

Quick Facts:


2134 S. Cicero Avenue (Cicero entrance)

2133 S. 49th Avenue (49th entrance, exit only)

Established: December 16, 1907
Original Line: Metropolitan West Side Elevated, Douglas Park branch
Previous Names: 48th Avenue

Skip-Stop Type:

Station (1951-1958)

Station (1958-1995)

Rebuilt: 1978
Status: In Use


One is of late-model 6000s passes the original station at Cicero in 1974, just three years before it was demolished for the new station. This early clapboard station was on the east side of the street, with an auxiliary exit onto 47th Court. The new station is one the west side of the street. For an larger view, click here. (Photo from the Collection of Leon Kay)


The Douglas branch of the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad was originally planned to extend to 46th (Kenton) Avenue in its original stretch and while it took the Met over 10 years to reach 46th, extensions past this point came at a much quicker pace. The first of these came just seven months after 46th had been reached and stretched a mere two blocks west to 48th Street (later renamed Cicero). Just three years later, the line was again extended, this time to 52nd Avenue, and eventually reached Oak Park Avenue in 1924. Cicero station marked the first time the Douglas Park branch reached outside the city limits of Chicago, this time into the city of Cicero.

The original station was a wood-frame clapboard structure set in the middle of the tracks and opening onto an island platform, as 50th Avenue, Laramie and many others did or still do. Though the design of Cicero was similar to these stations, its heavier traffic flow necessitated a larger, wider facility, with enough room for a window to the left of the front door. The design is influenced by the vernacular style of many of the small main line rail depots of the era. The exterior featured a hipped roof with eaves that extended out about a foot. The front features one set of double doors and a window, while the sides are broken up by several double-hung sash windows. The interior was most likely floor-to-ceiling tongue-in-groove paneling, wood floors and paneled ceilings with a small ticket booth near the entrance, benches along the walls, a boiler stove for heat and incandescent lights for illumination.

The station was located between Cicero (48th) Avenue and 47th Court, the next street east. There were entrances at each end of the station, though by the late 1960s the 47th Court entrance was part-time only, staffed with an agent at the rush hours. And what rush hours they were! When the Western Electric Hawthorne Works was still in full operation, 5:00 p.m. brought a flood of people from the huge complex. The platform was packed and trains were standing room only inbound toward the city.

The floor plan of the Cicero station, circa 1968. For a larger view, click here. (Based on a sketch by Ernie Baudler)

The racetracks that were nearby were another factor that added to this station's heavy usage. Sportsman's Park and Hawthorne Park were a few miles south on Cicero and when the horses were running, taxi cabs would line up and park in the alley behind Cermak Road facing the south side of the platform. Railfan Ernie Baudler remembers, "the cabbies would shout at the top of their lungs, 'Racetrack!! Racetrack! Going right out!'. Drivers would pack the cars as full as they could for a flat rate per person, a dollar I think. These cab drivers took advantage of a few shortcomings in the "L"/bus connection at Cicero station."

Due to the fact that the platform was sandwiched between what was essentially a half city block, a 6-car train could not fully berth at the platform. Thus, the CTA could never run Douglas trains any longer than this. Baudler recalled that "when a 6-car train would pull into the station, 1/2 of the last car (or first depending on direction) would be completely inaccessible to the platform actually blocking 47th court! This meant that the conductor HAD to be in the last (or first, again, depending on direction) married pair car set or the doors would open into the street. I did in fact witness the doors opening in the middle of the street on more than one occasion. Luckily, no one tried to exit. Most riders knew they needed to walk between cars to the doors that met the platform."

With the station house's larger size, a newsstand was able to occupy the northwest corner of the station, operated by a blind couple during the period of the late-1960s/early-1970s. Baudler reminisced that "the man's name was John. They were both totally blind and ran their business well. In addition to newspapers and a few magazines they sold candy and cigarettes, too. They would greet people as soon as they heard the sound of a familiar customer's voice and say something like, 'Hey, Ernie the Sun-Times 5 star is late today, all I have is the red streak edition.' John and his partner (perhaps his wife?) had no trouble telling coins apart but when you presented paper currency for a purchase, he'd ask you what you gave him. If you said 'one' or 'five' he'd dole out the appropriate change. If your voice was not familiar or you said '20' or '50' he'd hold up the bill and face it toward the agent's cage and say something like, 'Hey Charlie what've I got here?' and the agent would then tell John what size bill he was holding. A friendly working relationship, indeed! I always wondered what became of John and his partner when the new station was put into operation. No provision was made for business space there."


New Station, New Location

The entrance to the Cicero station, looking west from the Cicero Avenue crossing. The entrance bears a resemblance to Central Park further down the line. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The original station was replaced with a larger, modern structure, utilitarian in design, resembling Central Park and Pulaski to the east on the line, in 1978. Located on the west side of the street across from the old facility, the "station house" (if it can be called that) is essentially an open air passageway constructed of steel, aluminum, and glass, housing the fare controls. The platform canopy's post and beam construction, with the supports located outside the tracks, provides for a column-free platform. Hexagon-shaped cutouts in the crossbeams and a split in the canopy support beams near their base provide at least some decorative elements in this essentially utilitarian design.

Like the old station, the new Cicero has two entrances, the main access at Cicero and an auxiliary entrance at 49th Avenue. The provision of the 49th Avenue entrance allowed for the final closure of the 50th Avenue station two blocks west. However, its longevity was short-lived: its agent hours were reduced to weekday morning rush only a mere four months later and the entrance was closed entirely three years later, in 1981. 49th became merely an auxiliary exit, as it remains today.

The Cicero platform, looking west in early August 2001. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Today, the modern structure stands with few alterations to its original construction, except a blue and white paint scheme, indicating its place on the Blue Line.

In December 1951, the CTA instituted A/B skip stop service on the Douglas branch, with Cicero declared an AB station due to its high passenger levels. In 1958, with the Douglas Line's through-routing on the West-Northwest Route, Cicero became a B station (like all Douglas stations, essentially making it an all-stop), which it remained until A/B service was discontinued on the Blue Line in 1995.

Cicero stands only a block from the massive Hawthorne Shopping Center, named for and located adjacent to the aforementioned old Hawthorne Works plant of the Western Electric Company, once a major employer and maker of telephone equipment, and architecturally notable for its large tower and impressive Romanesque Revival design.


Douglas Renovation Project

As part of the CTA's Douglas branch rehabilitation project, the CTA Board approved a $2,131,551 contract to McDonough Associates, Inc. on August 5, 1998. McDonough Associates was to design the improvements along the grade-level portion of the Cermak (Douglas) route between Kildare and the terminal at 54/Cermak, with funding for actual construction to be provided under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, or TEA-21.

Due to Cicero station's modern construction and it current accessibility, very little work will be done at this station as part of the Douglas Rehabilitation Project. The station is already ADA compliant, can berth trains of sufficient car length, and has modern amenities


Recent Developments

During Autumn 2004 and Spring 2005, several "L" stations got new station name signs. As part of a multi-station program, twelve facilities in all on the Blue, Purple, Red, Orange, and Green lines received new, Current Graphic Standard station name signs, replacing older KDR-type signs that used an outdated graphic scheme that was inconsistent with the colored line names. The new signs not only replaced old ones in existing locations at these island platform stations, but were added at additional locations outside the tracks, facing to the platform, for ADA compliance. The new additional signs outside the tracks were mounted on new steel brackets that are supported and project from below. Installation at all stations was complete by the end of November 2004. Fabrication and installation of the signs was performed by contractor Western Remac.

After conducting a West Side Corridor Study and holding public meetings during 2004 and 2005, the CTA began operation of a new service over the Cermak branch. Beginning Sunday, June 25, 2006, the new Pink Line began providing the primary rail service to the branch. Operating seven days a week during the same service hours as the Blue Line had operated, Pink Line trains operated on the Cermak branch from 54th/Cermak to Polk, then terminated around the Loop via the Paulina Connector and Lake branch of the Green Line. Service levels increased with the introduction of the Pink Line, with trains running more frequently including a 7.5-minute interval during weekday rush periods. To address community concerns, Blue Line service to the O'Hare branch from 54th/Cermak via the Dearborn Subway was maintained during morning and afternoon rush hours. The Pink Line and revised Blue Line services were instituted as an 180-day experiment, extended for additional 180-day experimental periods subsequently, while ridership and other effects were studied. As the experimental period continued, the CTA revised service on the Cermak branch to eliminate the rush period Blue Line trains, leaving the Pink Line to provide all service to 54th/Cermak. Although ridership had risen overall since the introduction of the Pink Line, Blue Line trains had consistently low ridership on a person-per-railcar-basis. The last day of Blue Line Cermak service was Friday, April 25, 2008.

cta2200s01.jpg (32k)
A 2200-series Douglas-Milwaukee "B" train pulls into the original Cicero station on the Douglas branch circa 1970-71. The view looks from the north side of the platform east toward the 47th Court entrance. (Photo by Ernie Baudler)

The Cicero station, looking northwest from an adjacent alley. The platform is of the island variety with a canopy covering both tracks and a second entrance to the west onto 49th Avenue. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The 49th Avenue entrance/exit -- now an exit only -- looking east in 49th Avenue in 1999. Despite having been designed as an auxiliary entrance, it's design is essentially the same as the main entrance at Cicero, save for a slightly smaller width and space for fewer turnstiles. (Photo from the Chicago Transit Authority Collection)

The fare controls at the 49th Avenue entrance, looking east in 1999. The layout remains the same as in its short-lived three years as an auxiliary exit: the two tall gates on either side of the agents' booth were where the turnstiles were. The exit-only rotogate is likely original. One the two turnstile spaces were provided since 49th was never meant to be a full-time, high capacity entrance. (Photo from the Chicago Transit Authority Collection)