Left: Looking west in the 1940s, a Lake Street Express train passes Hamlin on its way to the Loop. The trolley poles, currently lowered, were needed for the street-level operation west of Laramie until its elevation in 1962. A CSL street car can be seen under the trestle; Garfield Park is on the left. (Photo from the Chicago Transit Authority Collection.)
Hamlin Street and Lake Street, West Garfield Park
Lake Street Line
Address: 3800 W. Lake Street
Established: January 1894
Original Line: Lake Street Elevated Railroad
Previous Names: none
Hamlin Avenue station was typical of those built in 1892-93 for the Lake Street Elevated Railroad -- similar to stations at Ashland, Homan and Sacramento, among many others -- designed by its engineering staff and built by the Lloyd and Pennington Company.
The station had twin station houses and side platforms for boarding inbound and outbound trains. The station houses are designed in a Queen Anne style with a Victorian Gothic influence. The station houses had gabled roofs with two windowless gabled dormers each. Each roof was topped with a unique square cupola with a diamond pattern and a steeply hipped roof with a small gabled dormer in each of the four sides. These structures represent a unique attempt to apply the Queen Anne architectural style.
The station had side platforms, covered by tin-covered peaked-roof canopies supported by a row of steel center posts. The posts had decorative elements cast into them, most notably in the top angle bracket that supported the canopy braces. The Lake Street Elevated stations also originally had elaborate railings on the platforms with decorative scroll metalwork.
Hamlin survived the CTA's Lake Street service revision in April, 1948, becoming an "A" station under the new A/B skip-stop system. It was short lived, though: the station was closed March 18, 1956, though the 1955 CTA route map did not list the station. The north and south platforms of Pulaski were extended 200 feet east, providing secondary entrances at Harding Avenue (one and a half blocks west of Hamlin). Though having to walk a little farther, former-Hamlin patrons now had the advantage of the choice of both "A" and "B" trains at Pulaski and faster Lake Street service through the elimination of a station. Operationally, closure of Hamlin also streamlined service as its short platforms had not allowed the front and rear doors to be opened on longer trains; now all doors could be used at all stations.
A mishap occurred while the station was being demolished after closure -- on June 25, 1956, a fire at the station caused $400 damage to a wooden structure and one railcar. Believed to have been caused by sparks from acetylene torches, the fire started while workmen were dismantling the station. One of the station canopies fell on the third rail, cutting power and delaying rush hour service for 25 minutes.1
Closure of Hamlin created an odd spacing between stations on the Lake Line, which the CTA rectified after four decades with its deconstruction and reassembly of Homan's outer shell two blocks west at Central Park Avenue, making it spaced evenly between Pulaski (the station two blocks west of where Hamlin was) and Kedzie (two blocks west of Homan). With the opening of Conservatory-Central Park in June 2001, there is now equal spacing again between Pulaski and Kedzie.
1. "$400 Blaze at Hamlin 'L' Station Stalls Traffic." Chicago Tribune, June 26, 1956, pg. 11.