The Lake Park (east) entrance to Ellis-Lake Park in October 1955. Note that, here, the Chicago Junction Railway is on a separate deck girder here. (Photo by George Macak, from the Collection of George Krambles)

The Ellis (west) entrance to Ellis-Lake Park in November 1955. Already, dilapidation had set in. Except for the pediments over the side doors, the station entrances were quite utilitarian. (Photo by George Macak, from the Collection of George Krambles)

Ellis-Lake Park (1000E/4100S)
41st Street, between Ellis Avenue and Lake Park Avenue, Kenwood (Oakland)

Service Notes:

Kenwood Line

Quick Facts:

Address: TBD
Established: September 20, 1907
Original Line: South Side Elevated, Kenwood branch
Previous Names: none
Skip-Stop Type: n/a
Rebuilt: n/a
Status: Demolished


This simple concrete-and-steel station was typical of those found on the Kenwood branch. Its concrete island platform floor and simple canopy latticework suited the largely unoccupied neighborhood at the time of its construction. The station houses below (one at the east end of station at Lake Park, the other at the west end at Ellis) were inside the embankment. Never lavish by any standards, their exterior's were plain concrete with three doors (the main double-doors in the center flanked by two smaller doors) decorated only by a simple pediment over each entrance. Inside, amenities were minimal or nonexistent. The walls were concrete or (usually badly-water damaged) plaster with some wood moldings. Lighting was incandescent and the interior was broken up by naked steel I-beams. Only a simple wooden fare booth usually broke up the floor space.

Developers responded to the new line by building elegant new apartments and converting single family dwellings into multifamily boarding houses. During this early development, the neighborhood was quite white collar, including many German Jews, Irish and English workers. By the 1930s, an increasing number of transients and single persons populated the neighborhood, followed by large numbers of African Americans in the 1940s. Stock Yards workers were common here too.

The CTA's abandonment of the Kenwood line has an interesting twist. Most stations and lines were abandoned outright due to low usage or low profitability. As it turned out, the embankment and right-of-way that line was one actually belonged to the Chicago Junction Railway, a single track railroad that ran along side it that connected the Illinois Central and a number of other lines to the Stock Yards. In early 1956, they demanded the CTA start paying them $100,000 yearly rent; rental payments had been discontinued in 1937 by the CRT. Operating loses on the line were $200,000. No agreement could be reached, so Mayor Daley stepped in and a deal was worked out in which the CTA would pay a token rent of $1,000 a month until a deal was worked out.

In addition to these issues, by the mid-1950s it was becoming apparent that falling ridership and increasing deterioration of the Kenwood Line would require some sort of immediate action. Three plans were formulated for how to continue service - purchasing the route from the Chicago Junction Railway (from whom CTA rented the property), leasing it from the CJRwy, and purchase by an outside agency for CTA use - but all of these included modernization of the Kenwood stations. As part of a $3,100 modernization plan covering both the Kenwood and Stock Yards Lines, drawings dated July 13, 1956 show that the CTA planned to minimize and streamline the stations to achieve maximize usage with as little operations costs as possible. The two side doors of the Lake Park entrance were to be sealed with transite and the doors of the center passage were to be removed. Floor-to-ceiling cornerless transit walls were to be used to partition off the interior of the station house, creating only a passageway from the door up to the stairs to the platform. Lamps were to be upgraded to a higher wattage for better security and new fare controls were to be installed. Only half the platform and canopy were to be retained. The Ellis station house and the half of the platform nearest to it were to be sealed off and abandoned.

Despite all of these efforts and plans, ridership was deemed too low and costs too high to continue service on this lightly used line. No deal with the Chicago Junction Railway was worked out and service was discontinued on the Kenwood branch on December 1, 1957.

Left: The interior of the Ellis station in November 1955. Neglect by the CTA had caused serious dilapidation to set in. In the window of the agents' booth is a placard for the Mum flower show, accessible by CTA lines, of course. (Photo by George Macak, from the Collection of George Krambles)


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Although the bridge decking is done, the Lake Park entrance to Ellis-Lake Park is still largely extant in this view looks northwest on May 11, 2002. Of the three doorways into the station house in the embankment (also still extant), two are bricked over but one only has a metal gate, allowing a view inside. (Photo by Andrew Stiffler)

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Looking east along 41st Street at the Lake Park entrance to Ellis-Lake Park on May 11, 2002. The two bricked over doorways led into the station house; the lush foliage on the embankment is the former "L"TM and Chicago Junction rights-of-way. (Photo by Andrew Stiffler)

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Although the bridge decking is gone, the Lake Park entrance to Ellis-Lake Park is still largely extant in this view looking west in 2000. Of the three doorways into the station house in the embankment (also still extant), two are bricked over but one only has a metal gate, allowing a view inside. (Photo by William Davidson)

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Looking southeast from the corner of 41st Street (parallel to the embankment) and Ellis Avenue at the Ellis entrance to the now-derelict Ellis-Lake Park station of the Kenwood branch in 2000. (Photo by William Davidson)

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Looking east at the abandoned Ellis entrance to the former Ellis-Lake Park station in 2000. The entrance to the station, embedded in the embankment, is intact, but all three doorways have been bricked over. Small elements of decoration are evident in the casting of the concrete. (Photo by William Davidson)