Clark/Lake elevated station, looking south in 1983. Today, the old elevated station houses are gone, the 203 N. LaSalle building is on the near right, and the Thompson Center is in the rear right behind the station. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Dan Clement, from the Collection of the Library of Congress)

Clark/Lake (100W/200N)
Clark Street and Lake Street, Loop

Service Notes:

Green Line: Lake-Ashland-East 63rd

Brown Line: Ravenswood

Orange Line: Midway

Purple Line: Evanston Express

Pink Line: 54/Cermak-Loop

Accessible Station

Transfer Station

Quick Facts:

Address: 100 W. Lake Street
Established: September 22, 1895
Original Lines: Union Elevated Railroad
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:


Rebuilt: 1988-92
Status: In Use


Clark/Lake in the 1970s, with a second version 6000-series "L" train on the inner track. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from Destination Loop)

Clark/Lake, like State/Lake to the east, was constructed before the rest of the Loop because the tracks, while originally part of the Lake Street line, were always meant to be the north leg of a downtown loop, connecting at Wabash.

All four legs of the Loop employed a different, unique style for its station houses and the Lake Street leg was no exception. They were originally quite small and incorporated elements from many styles, including some Classical Revival elements and features reminiscent of a Chinese pagoda. It had an ornate station house as well as the decorative railings (see photo below) and platform canopy pillars (see photo at right), the later two of which State retains.

In 1913, many of the Loop stations underwent a number of renovations and it seems Clark/Lake was one of them. (This general rehab of the "L" also resulted in the construction of a new Randolph/Wells station.) The original trackside waiting rooms were removed and new open booths were installed. Left intact, however, were much of the roofs, all platform canopies, posts, railings and many other features. The station house enclosure was quite small -- no wider than about 30-40 feet -- but the roof extended wider, about the width of Clark Street below. Later, the CTA modified the building and enclosed the area below the roof with plywood and fiberglass panels, giving the station house a piecemeal, disorganized look.

When the West-Northwest through-route was created between the Milwaukee elevated and Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway and the Congress and Douglas lines in 1958, "L"/subway transfers 'up' were inaugurated between Clark/Lake and Lake Transfer (whose LaSalle-Clark mezzanine was 1/2 block west Clark/Lake), although 'down' transfers from the Loop to the subway were prohibited here (these were accomplished between State/Van Buren and Jackson-Van Buren/Dearborn). In 1969, a new through-routing once again brought a change to the transfer policy between the Loop and the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway. With the beginning of West-South Route (Lake-Dan Ryan) service, all transfers -- both 'up' and 'down' -- were changed to between Lake Transfer and Clark/Lake.

Northwest stairs to the Clark/Lake elevated station, looking east in 1983. Note the decorative, original railings and early KDR-style sign and system map. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Dan Clement, from the Collection of the Library of Congress)

In May 1985, the new $173 million State of Illinois Center (SOIC) was completed and occupied. Only 17 stories tall (with two additional levels below grade) but monumentally designed by Helmut Jahn, the Center stands apart from surrounding office buildings because of its dome-shape and its multicolored glass exterior. With a low block design, the glass-enclosed steel structure's curving, sloping facade faces the corner of Randolph Street and Clark Street. Likewise, the 203 N. LaSalle Building (aka the Loop Transportation Building), across Lake Street from the State of Illinois Center, was also completed in 1985. Later, the Clark/Lake elevated station would be connected to these. But not quite yet...

Clark had fallen into a serious state of disrepair when renovations began in 1988 for the replacement of the old elevated facility with a new, modern, white steel station, a common design for new "L" stations referred to as the "open plan concept." Beginning in January 1992, Clark/Lake was closed weekends for the last of the reconstruction work, which was largely completed a few months later.

The new station is actually located west of the old station, between Clark and LaSalle. The new elevated platform has a canopy that stretches the entire width of the structure, with a convex skylight down the center. This elaborate reconstruction was part of a new tri-level station that connects the elevated with the ground-level street with the O'Hare-Congress-Douglas subway station formally known as Lake Transfer.

On March 23, 1992, the Clark/Lake elevated station's entrances over Clark Street were closed and new access opened from the newly-constructed elevated platforms to the State of Illinois Center and 203 N. LaSalle Building. With all access to both the Loop and subway stations through the same access points -- also allowing transfers without leaving a paid area -- the subway and elevated stations were combined into a single facility known as Clark/Lake, with the subway station thus dropping the Lake Transfer moniker.

For additional information and photos of the Clark/Lake elevated station (1992-present), click here to see the Clark/Lake (combined) station profile.

The new Clark/Lake elevated station, looking west on the Inner Loop platform in July 2001. As one of the CTA's busiest stations, these platforms can get very crowded at rush hour, at these will continue to as the evening rush goes on. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The first four 6000-series cars were delivered in a short-lived variation of the famous Mercury green-Croydon cream-Swamp Holly orange scheme, with the standee window stripe ending at the sides. Here, 6001-6004 are at Clark/Lake on August 15, 1950, shortly after being delivered. (Photo by George Krambles)

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This sign more or less served the same purpose as the 1950s-60s era "symbol signs", as CTA calls them, which were intended for quick identification of stations for passengers on passing trains, and provided skip-stop and directional information for passengers on the platform. Standard symbol signs were portrait-oriented and typically had a large first letter of the station name with the full name under it; the skip-stop letter(s) on color-coded band(s) in the middle; and the cardinal direction and destination at the bottom accompanied by an arrow pointing in the direction of travel. However, the design of those signs didn't work well on the Loop; they really only worked for a single route, because of the specifics of their design and what information is in each section -- they didn't accommodate the information for multiple routes well, as would be demanded on the Loop. So on the Loop, CTA used a much-simplified version that just had the station name and no other information. They were also landscape-oriented rather than portrait, perhaps to accommodate the names at a larger type size than if it were portrait-oriented like the symbol signs at non-Loop stations. (Sign in IRM Collection, photo courtesy of Bill Wulfert)

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Car 2056, in the platinum and black scheme, is bringing up the rear (with a set of Bicentennials at the lead) on a Lake-Dan Ryan "A" train at Clark/Lake on April 11, 1977. Note the "Air Conditioned" decal -- pine (dark) green letters on a lime green background -- above the motorman's window. (Photo by Ed McKernen, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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A 6-car Ravenswood train stops at Clark/Lake on May 26, 1978. Note the two transfer bridges: since through-routing began in 1913, Clark/Lake has been a busy transfer station. (Photo by Ed McKernen, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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A two-car Ravenswood All-Stop stopping at Clark/Lake on the Loop is led by car 2420 on August 16, 1978. (Photo by Doug Grotjahn, Collection of Joe Testagrose)