Fifth & Lake
Fifth Avenue and Lake Street, Loop
Established: September 22, 1895
Original Lines: Lake Street Elevated/Union Elevated Railroad
Previous Names: none
Skip-Stop Type: n/a
Fifth & Lake, like Clark & Lake and 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. Fifth & Lake had ornate station houses as well as the decorative railings and platform canopy pillars on its side platforms.
Work on the Loop Elevated was performed one leg at a time. As noted above, the north leg along Lake Street was constructed first. The next portion to the built and opened was the east leg on Wabash. Because the west leg of the Loop was to be over Fifth Avenue [later called Wells Street] and would thus connect to the north leg (as well as the Lake Street and Northwestern lines) at this point on Lake Street, the Fifth & Lake station would need to be closed. This had the effect of causing one of the first closures of a permanent station in the history of the "L". It would seem, on its face, that the decision to build a station at Fifth Avenue on the Lake Street extension was quite a folly if the west leg of the Loop were to be located there, but the decision to locate the Loop over Fifth Avenue was not made until 1895. When the Fifth & Lake station was built in early 1895, there was still considerable chance that the west leg would be on Market or Franklin.
The Fifth & Lake station was removed piecemeal, with the south (inbound) platform closed in 1896, its removal necessitated by the construction of the connection between the west and north legs of the Loop. Because the Northwestern Elevated (which would connect from the north over Fifth) would not reach this point for another three years, the outbound station house and platform were left in place and open for business until December 17, 1899, during which time the north platform sat at the head of a T-intersection. This short period of use makes the Fifth & Lake station the third shortest-lived "L" station, in service for only 1,547 days (4 years, 2 months, 25 days); only theSouth Side's Jackson Park station used for the Columbian Exposition and the Met's Franklin Street Terminal had shorter lives.
Tower 18 is now located on the former location of the Fifth & Lake station. To compensate for the loss of Fifth & Lake, the Randolph & Wells station was not, in fact, located at Randolph but between Randolph and Lake over an alley called Couch Place, a half block south of Fifth & Lake's former location.
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