A view of the Madison/Wells station at night, looking northeast in November, 1988. The station house's design was identical to Madison/Wabash on the opposite side of the Loop and very similar to Quincy, one stop south. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the Collection of Michael Roegner)

Madison/Wells (1N-S/200W)
Madison Street and Wells Street, Loop

Service Notes:


Quick Facts:

Address: 1 N. Wells Street
Established: October 3, 1897
Original Line: Union Elevated Railroad
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:


Rebuilt: n/a
Status: Demolished


The interior of the Madison/Wells Outer Loop station house, looking south in 1993. Except for the paint scheme, fare controls, and some signage, the interior has changed very little since it was built a century before. To see an enlarged view, click here. (Photo by John Smatlak)

Frontage signatures (required from business owners on the street to allow construction) for the Wells leg of the Loop were obtained in the name of the Northwestern Elevated Railroad from Michigan [Hubbard] Street to Harrison Street, a distance of one mile. Many businesses along Fifth [Wells] at this time were factories who were eager for the "L" to be built, offsetting the retailers who resisted the structure's presence. On June 24, 1895, the City Counsel granted the Northwestern a 50-year franchise to build on Fifth Street. Rights south of Lake Street were immediately reassigned to the Union Elevated and construction began on August 31.

Madison/Wells station was completed in 1897 and opened for business October 3rd. Very similar to Quincy/Wells, Madison was basically of Palladian design with ornate, almost Baroque window surrounds, Corinthian pilasters and cartouches along the roof line and was constructed of sheet metal. The interiors of both the Inner and Outer Loop station houses featured wooden floors, pressed tin walls and tongue-in-groove wooden paneling. Stairs from the mezzanine led into the station houses, where customers paid the ticket agents. It was likely designed by architect A.M. Hedley in 1896.

In the late-1920s, the CRT embarked on a project to lengthen all Loop station platforms and by 1930, it had been lengthened to the point that it and Randolph/Wells had one continuous platform. An overhead transfer bridge had also been installed. It seems that by the mid-1950s, the CTA had returned the Loop stations to individual, noncontiguous facilities.

The Inner Loop (east) station house caught fire on Friday, May 11, 1984 from causes unknown.

The stop was closed Sunday, January 30, 1994 and demolished so that work on the Washington/Wells station could begin. On Friday, February 4th, the Outer Loop (west) station house was damaged by fire as well. Washington replaced it, opening in July, 1995.

The Madison/Wells station, looking north from the Quincy/Wells platform in November, 1988. The station houses, never receiving a promised renovation, are showing their age. To see an enlarged view, click here. (Photo from the Collection of Michael Roegner)

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The Madison/Wells Outer Loop station house in 1993, seen from the same vantage point as at the top of the page, five years later. The building's wear and subpar maintenance are evident. Within a year, the station would be closed. Soon after, a tall multi-use building was erected on the site of the parking lot this photo was shot from. (Photo by John Smatlak)

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Already targeted for closure, the minimal upkeep on the interior of Madison/Wells is clear in this 1993 view. The wall decor, with pressed tin and wood paneling, and wooden balustrades along the stairs were common features of the Wells Street Loop station houses. (Photo by John Smatlak)

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The agents' booths in the Madison/Wells Outer Loop station house are seen here in 1993. They have been little changed in the last century, with their original wooden moldings and decorative metal grilles, plus historic fare registers above the windows. The wooden and fiber glass barriers are newer installations, to both divide the paid and unpaid areas and guide customers without tokens or exact change to the agents' windows. (Photo by John Smatlak)

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The Madison/Wells station, looking east on Madison Street at the Outer Loop station house in 1993, less than a year before closing. Today, the far western end of the Washington/Wells station platforms are visible here, with an auxiliary exit on the south side of Madison. (Photo by John Smatlak)

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Car 1708, built for the Northwestern Elevated in 1903 by the St. Louis Car Company, is operating on the Lake "A" run stopping at Madison/Wells within a few years of the CTA® taking over operations. (Photo from the Jeff Obarek Collection)

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Car 4256 leads a long train of 4000s at Madison/Wells in March of 1975. Although the front cars bears a Ravenswood "A" sign, this is in fact a fan trip excursion. (Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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Cincinnati-built car 4400 is part of a two-car Lake "B" train at Madison & Wells station on the Inner Loop in May, 1964. (Photo by Jerry Appleman)

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This location is the site of the former Madison/Wells station, demolished to allow the construction of Washington/Wells. The Washington/Wells station is actually positioned mid-block between Washington and Madison streets, as seen in this view looking east on Madison toward Wells on August 11, 2004. As a result of its positioning, the platforms span Madison and have auxiliary exits on the south side of the street. The station also allows for intermodal transfers with several bus lines, such as the #56 Milwaukee bus seen here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)