Compared to opening day (seen below), Clinton station has not changed a great deal, save for more modern turnstiles and the additional of several types of vending machines. This view looks west at the fare controls from the unpaid area of the mezzanine on December 7, 2001. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Clinton (540W/500S)
Clinton Street and Congress Parkway, West Loop (Near West Side)

Service Notes:

Blue Line: Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway

Transfer to Amtrak

Transfer to Metra:

Milwaukee District North and West Lines
North Central Service
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Line
Heritage Corridor Line
Southwest Service

Owl Service

Quick Facts:

Address: 426 S. Clinton Street
Established: June 22, 1958
Original Line: Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:


Rebuilt: n/a
Status: In Use


While Clinton station is the first station (or last, depending on one's directional of travel) in the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway, it's actually contains a somewhat interesting amalgamation of details and finishes, owing to the fact that it was not built at the same time as the rest of the stations on that subway line.

When the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway opened in 1951, it was fed only from the north end and terminated at LaSalle/Congress, one stop to the east. It was always intended to continue the subway west from there, but what form that extension would take changed a bit over time. When the Dearborn Subway was first planned in the 1930s, the continuation toward the West Side was visualized to be a cut-and-dry continuation of the same type of subway going westward, replacing the Garfield Park elevated. However, by the time the subway opened in the 1950s, those plans had been modified to place the extension in the median of the new Congress Street Superhighway, one of Chicago's first major limited-access expressway projects. Thus, the subway extension would be short, only long enough to bring the line to the expressway, at which point the line would ascend to the surface and continue westward in the median.

Looking west at the fare controls in the mezzanine in 1958 not long after opening, this view shows what Clinton looked like as-built. Note the posters taped to the column that explain the new West-Northwest Route service. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the CTA Collection)

Clinton was the only station built in this three-quarter mile subway, so it was alone among the other stations being built for the Congress Line. Although the CTA® carried on some of the designs it had used (and largely inherited) in the recently-built subways, in many ways the Congress Line stations represented a departure in station design and many aspects of the facilities were unique to the rest of the system. Clinton occupied a unique place in between the two. The station's overall design follows that of the subway stations opened seven years before. Like the other Dearborn Subway stations, the facility's style is generally Art Moderne. The mezzanine and platform had smooth, red "no-slip" concrete floors and ceilings and the finished walls were clad in glazed block. Turnstiles were steel. As built, the island platform had red concrete floors, arched concrete ceilings and I-beam steel columns. The tunnel walls were left plain concrete and fluorescent lights and illuminated station signs hung from the ceilings finished the decoration. The station's "accent color" was blue, continuing the rotation of four accent colors used at the other stations, and signage (both inlaid in tile and on porcelain enamel signs) used the specially-designed Futura-variant typeface used in Chicago's Initial System of Subways stations.

There were, however, numerous small differences between Clinton and its other Dearborn Subway brethren, some of which result from influences from the Congress Line median station being built at the same time and others of which seem to have been changes of heart since the Initial System of Subways first hit the drawing board in the 1930s. The fare control booth, rather than consisting of the stone walls and glass windows on all four sides like the previous subways', was of steel construction with glass windows on all sides but one. The "rear" of the booth connected to a small enclosure that housed a toilet for the agent (accessible from inside the booth) and a porter's closest (accessible from the unpaid area). This arrangement is also interesting in terms of how these things are arranged vis a vis entering passengers. The enclosed rooms essentially present a solid, blank wall in the middle of the unpaid area that blocked the ticket agent's (and now Customer Assistant's) view of the unpaid area and entering passengers and vice versa. In essence, the booth put its "back" to the unpaid area, presenting its windows only to the fare control area and the paid area. Taking a queue from the more utilitarian, functional Congress stations, the mezzanine also lacks nearly all of the passenger amenities that the State and Dearborn subways provided. Gone were the men's and women's public restrooms, lockers, drinking fountains, built-in concession stands, and pay phones inside "soundproof" booths. The only toilet was was for the agent and the one public phone that was provided was inside a small hood mounted on a wall in the paid area. Only later was a concession stand retrofit against a sidewall in the southeast corn of the mezzanine's unpaid area.

Other differences were more minor. The station is somewhat unusual in having its four street-level entrances located at a grade-separated intersection: they're not so such centered around the corner of Clinton and Congress Parkway as where the Eisenhower Expressway crosses over Clinton Street. (At this point, Congress Parkway it little more than a frontage street that runs alongside the expressway immediately to the south.) As a result, the stairs to the subway are actually underneath the expressway viaduct, somewhat hidden from view and surely less than ideal in terms of customer appeal. Over the agents' windows in the booth was stenciled the word "CASHIER", as at the Congress stations, rather than "TICKETS" as in the other subway stations. The illuminated signs hung from the center barrel vault down the center of the platform were of a slightly different design than the other subway stations (interestingly, they most closely resembled those used at Washington on the State Street Subway, installed 15 years before). Also unusual is that the porcelain-enamel signage installed throughout the station changed the pattern of the other Dearborn Subway stations of having white lettering on a neutral gray background. Instead, Clinton's signs had a light blue background, matching the station's accent color. Clinton also had some unusual sign boxes not seen at other subway stations, mounted under the soffit of the colonnades and projecting over the edge of the platform along the tracks. These boxes contained roller curtains with different readings which could be changed by the station agent from the booth.

Over the years the station was changed very little. Most of the original fixtures and finishes are still in place, except for a good deal of lighting that's been replaced. The fare controls were changed out for TransitCard turnstiles in the late 1990s, but the original agent's booth remains. Some of the original signage is still in place, as are most of the hanging illuminated signs on the platform (though they are no longer lit). The unusual sign boxes mounted over the trackside edges of the platform are also still in place, though they are also no longer lit and contain only static sign faces.

Clinton received some signage upgrades in March 2004. During a shutdown of the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway from 2200 hours Saturday, March 6 to 0600 hours, Sunday, March 7 for the installation of telecommunications cables, personnel from the Graphics and Facilities Maintenance departments took the opportunity to install new Current Graphic Standard station name signs on the tunnel walls, replacing KDR-style signs installed in the 1980s. Because of the limited time allowed, only the gray-background station name signs themselves were installed at that time; the blue "tabs" were to be installed a few weeks later. In October 2005, the symbol signs on the columns were replaced with new Current Graphic Standard versions as well. Earlier in 2005, the station entrance signs were replaced replaced with backlit versions inside new stainless steel light boxes mounted on the pylons at the back of the staircases. The lit signs help identify the station entrance stairs, which are sometimes difficult to see underneath the expressway viaduct.

Clinton station is two blocks south of Union Station and a block north of the downtown Chicago Greyhound bus terminal. Clinton station is, of course, named for Clinton Street. Clinton Street was named for DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828), the one-time mayor of New York City and a former governor of New York state who sponsored the construction of the Erie Canal, which led to the rapid settlement of Illinois and the establishment of Chicago as a major shipping port. Hence his importance to the City of Chicago.

The island platform of Clinton station is typical of those in the State Street and Milwaukee-Dearborn subways, although Clinton was built 15 years after the former and 7 years after the latter. This view looks east toward the exit in August, 2002. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Andrew Stiffler)

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The entrances to Clinton station are located underneath the Eisenhower Expressway viaduct over Clinton Street, as seen looking southwest from the corner of Clinton and Tilden on August 2, 2002. (Photo by Andrew Stiffler)

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As seen in this August 2, 2002 view, the stairways down to the Clinton subway mezzanine are typical of those built in the 1940s and '50s for the other subway stations except that they're not around an at-grade street intersection: they're under the expressway viaduct. This arrangement makes them somewhat hidden from view and less than ideal in terms of customer appeal. (Photo by Andrew Stiffler)

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This small tiled enclosure in the unpaid area, seen looking northwest on August 2, 2002, houses a toilet for the agent (accessible from inside the booth) and a porter's closest (accessible from the door on the right). The stainless steel agent's booth is on the other side of the rooms, visible on the left. (Photo by Andrew Stiffler)

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Several generations of signage adorn the walls of Clinton's mezzanine on August 2, 2002. The lettering pointing passengers to Union Station is original to the station, inlaid in the glazed block and executed in the Futura-like typeface used for the other subway stations. The Greyhound sign below was added later when the bus terminal opened nearby in the early 2000s. The station timetable is covered with printed times as a makeshift solution to a new schedule being in effect before new posters could be printed up and mounted. (Photo by Andrew Stiffler)

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Like other stations in the Initial System of Subways lines, Clinton's station name is inlaid in the glazed tile walls on the island platform that surround the stairs and escalators up to the mezzanine. As seen on August 2, 2002, the lettering is the Futura variant typical of the early subways and the blue color is consistent with the station's chosen accent color. (Photo by Andrew Stiffler)

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The tunnel walls at Clinton station, seen on August 2, 2002, are an eclectic place indeed! The signage dates from over several decades: the station name sign on the left follows the KDR standard and dates from the 1980s. Those in the middle and on the right are original from the 1950s. Clinton's original signs differed from the others on the Dearborn Subway in having a blue background rather than gray, while the sign on the right differs even more by having red lettering rather than white (the only such original subway signs to have red lettering on a colored background). The ad panels were added in the modern era. (Photo by Andrew Stiffler)

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This December 7, 2001 view looks northwest in Clinton's paid area at the vertical access from the mezzanine down to the platform. As at LaSalle one stop to the east, a separate stairway is provided to the right because two escalators (one in each direction) are provided rather than one escalator and a set of stairs side-by-side as at the downtown stations. The signage with the blue background are original to the station. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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In the 1980s, when Clinton station received KDR-type signage, the platform columns received these "symbol signs". This sign contains several things that are now out-of-date, including mention of A/B skip-stop service and the former names of the two terminals (changed in the 1990s). Also seen in this August 2, 2002 view is the attempt to paint over the words "AB Station", though most of it is scratched off. These signs were scheduled to be replaced with Current Graphic Standard versions in March 2004. (Photo by Andrew Stiffler)

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During a closure of the subway for the installation of telecommunications lines, Facilities Maintenance personnel prepare to remove the KDR-type station name signs on the tunnel walls during the early morning hours of March 7, 2004. (Photo by Victor Ramirez)

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After removing the older KDR-type station name sign, whose former location is outlined by bare, unpainted rectangle on the concrete wall, Facilities Maintenance personnel put up a new Current Graphic Standards sign in the early morning hours of March 7, 2004. The new sign is placed several inches lower than the old one to adhere to Americans with Disabilities Act standards. (Photo by Victor Ramirez)

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Shortly before their retirement, a center door-equipped "Baldie" 4000-series car leads a six-car train of like-equipment on an eastbound Douglas-Milwaukee "B" train at Clinton/Congress station in February 1964. The arrival of the 2000-series cars and the assignment of 40 of them to the West-Northwest Route allowed for the retirement of these cars. (Photo by Jerry Appleman)

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Car 2224 brings up the rear of a northbound Blue Line train at Clinton during a midday run on August 2, 2002, at a time of day when it is common to see 2200s at the front or rear of trains. (Photo by Andrew Stiffler)