On December 23, 1895, a motorcar crashed right through the bumping post onto 48th Avenue when the motorman fell asleep at the throttle. A wrecking crew is trying to hoist the car back onto the tracks. The station can be seen on the right, under the tracks. The brick and stone building is typical of many Met stations. (Photo from the Bruce G. Moffat Collection)
Cicero Avenue and Harrison Street, Austin
Established: June 19, 1895
Original Line: Metropolitan West Side Elevated, Garfield Park branch
Previous Names: 48th Avenue
In 1892, the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad planned a main line west from Franklin to Marshfield, where three branches went northwest to Milwaukee and Austin (the Logan Square line), with a branch to 72nd Avenue and North (the Humboldt Park line); southwest to 46th Avenue and 21st Street (the Douglas Park line); and due west to 48th Avenue at the city limits (the Garfield Park line). Only the Garfield Park initially reached its goal (and only the Douglas Park also reached its under the Metropolitan Elevated banner). By August 1893, the Garfield Park branch's steel was in place from Paulina to Sacramento and from Kedzie to Douglas Boulevard and by May 15, 1894, it was almost totally complete. Despite being one of the first lines finished, the Garfield Park didn't open until June 19, 1895, going all the way to its 48th Avenue terminal.
The station house was typical of the Met designs on the Northwest and Garfield Park branches. Constructed of red pressed brick with stone sills and foundations, their vernacular style might best be described as Queen Anne-influenced with some Romanesque features. The stations' original design was highlighted by a semicircular bay/portico, a lattice pattern in the brick cornice, extensive terra cotta work including the word "entrance" above one door in the portico and "exit" above the other, dentals above the doors' story lights, and carved wooden beads flush with the building between the wooden brackets which support a wooden canopy over the portico.
The station's dual side platforms had canopies and railings typical of all Met stations: Designed into the railings were larger cast iron square plates with a stylized diamond design. The stairs and platforms were constructed of wood on a steel structure. Each platform had a short canopy in the center of the platform, covering the stairs and a small waiting area. The canopy frame was iron, with arched latticed supports and bracketed rafters, and hipped roofs of corrugated tin. The station was constructed such that it would be simple to extend it father west. The tracks simply ended at a bumping post at the end of the platforms. This would eventually lead to a significant problem....
On December 25, 1895, the Metropolitan "L" recorded a dubious first for the elevated. As a westbound train neared the terminal, the motorman fell asleep. The car coasted right past the platform and flew right through the bumping post and off the elevated tracks to the street below. The car rested against the street and tracks at a 45û angle and, miraculously, the motorman, conductor and their lone passenger escaped with only minor bruises. It took the Met almost two days to hoist the car back onto the tracks. Some blamed the use of straight air brakes instead of automatic air brakes,which would apply in just such a predicament. (The brakes were later converted.)
In June 1900, the Chicago City Council authorized an extension of the Garfield Park branch of the Metropolitan Elevated Railroad to 52nd from 48th Avenue. Work was delayed when a land owner refused to sell his parcel, which unfortunately was across the street from the 48th Avenue terminal. Not wishing to delay, the Met simply built around it, with the tracks descending to the ground on a 1,200-foot ramp. Eventually, the property owner sold and while most railroads would then have to operate around a nonexistent obstruction, the Met has build the ramp so it could be moved. In mid-July, 1902, it was reported that occasional service was being run to 52nd Avenue, with 48th becoming a through station.
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. For most of that time the CA&E didn't serve Cicero station, but on December 9, 1951 the interurban began stopping at Cicero and discontinued stopping at Laramie concurrent with their resumption of local service to stations in Maywood and Bellwood.
In the mid-1950s, work was undertaken to replace the Garfield Line with a new rapid transit line in the median of the Congress Expressway, parallel to a roughly a block from the Garfield Line. Cicero remained open throughout the highway construction project. The station was closed in 1958 when the replacement Congress Line opened a block north. A replacement station entrance -- the Cicero entrance to Cicero station -- was opened on the Congress Line.
By August 1959, the station house and lower section of the stairs to the platforms had been removed. That month, the Chicago Transit Board awarded a $106,646 contract to Lipsett Steel Products, Inc. to demolish the remaining stairs, platforms, canopies, railings, flooring, cross girders, columns, brackets and stringers at Cicero and five other closed Garfield Park stations, as well as the elevated structure between Sacramento Blvd. and Lavergne Avenue.