A gauntlet of tracks and crossing gates confronts the public looking north at Oak Park station on September 6, 1935. The tracks in the foreground belong to the Baltimore and Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad, a terminal railroad formerly giving various other companies access to Grand Central Station. The "L"'s Garfield Park branch tracks are beyond that, with the Oak Park station house for inbound rapid transit passengers visible on the right. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the Graham Garfield Collection)

Oak Park (800W/900S)
Oak Park Avenue and Harrison Street, Village of Oak Park

Service Notes:

Garfield Line

Quick Facts:

Address: TDB
Established: March 11, 1905
Original Line: Metropolitan West Side Elevated, Garfield Park branch
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:


Rebuilt: n/a
Status: Demolished


The Aurora Elgin & Chicago interurban began service from Aurora and Wheaton to a connection with the "L" at 52nd Avenue (Laramie) on August 25, 1902. Included on the AE&C's main line was a station at Oak Park Avenue. The AE&C's (later reorganized as the Chicago Aurora & Elgin) service to stations on this segment of their main line was short-lived, as the Metropolitan "L" assumed local service between 52nd Avenue and Desplaines Avenue on March 11, 1905, relieving the AE&C of this unwanted chore. The extension of Garfield Park service to Desplaines and the Met's servicing of the local stations between was part of the reciprocal trackage agreement that allowed the AE&C to extend to downtown Chicago and the Fifth Avenue Terminal over the Metropolitan Elevated.

The Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, which used the Garfield Park branch to reach downtown Chicago, continued to serve Oak Park station until September 20, 1953, discharging passengers eastbound and picking up westbound.

The Oak Park station was a simple facility located at ground level, as the Garfield Park line ran at-grade west of Cicero station. One interesting aspect of Oak Park station's arrangement was that the platforms were on different sides of Oak Park Avenue. There were actually three different platforms: the "L" had two high-level wooden platforms, with the inbound platform was on the east side of the street and the outbound platform was on the west side of the street. The CA&E discharged passengers eastbound at a low-level cinder platform on the west side of Oak Park Avenue, separate from the "L". Both companies used the same platform westbound where there was less worry about CA&E riders transferring for free to the "L".

Oak Park station still had a station house on the inbound "L" platform on the east side of Oak Park Avenue. The design was typical of other small wood frame ground-level Met station houses. The headhouse was positioned between the street and the boarding platform, requiring passage through the station house before reaching the platform. The exterior used clapboard siding and a peaked roof with eaves that extended out about a foot. The front features one set of double doors, while the sides are broken up by four double-hung sash windows. The rear opened out onto the inbound platform. The interior was most likely floor-to-ceiling tongue-in-groove paneling, wood floors and paneled ceilings with a small ticket booth near the entrance, benches along the walls, a boiler stove for heat and incandescent lights for illumination.

During the 1950s, the City of Chicago and Cook County undertook construction of the Congress Superhighway [Eisenhower Expressway] along the general alignment of the Garfield Park "L" line. Part of the project also included the new new Congress "L" Line to replace the Garfield Park. The Congress Expressway opened in stages between 1955 and 1960; on June 22, 1958, the first section of the new Congress Line opened between Halsted and Laramie, replacing the Garfield Park elevated.

Work on the Congress Expressway and "L" line west of Laramie Avenue resulted in some complicated staging and several temporary facilities along the at-grade portion of the Garfield Line. On September 6, 1957, westbound Garfield Line trains shifted to a set of temporary tracks from Austin to west of Oak Park, north than the previous alignment. Concurrent with the move to the temporary alignment west of Austin, a temporary island platform was opened on east side of Oak Park Avenue for westbound trains and the old westbound side platform on the west side of Oak Park Avenue was closed. Eastbound trains followed onto the temporary alignment and began using the temporary island platform on September 17, closing the old eastbound side platform and station house on the east side of Oak Park Avenue.

Just under three years later, the permanent right-of-way was ready, although the permanent replacement Congress Line station was not. On March 19, 1960, the permanent eastbound Congress Line track was placed in service between Waller and Desplaines in open cut alongside site of future expressway. The new permanent Oak Park station's island platform, with temporary fare controls, was placed in service on the west side of Oak Park Avenue. The next day, on March 20, the permanent westbound track was also placed in service, closing the previous temporary platform.

A westbound Garfield Park train -- a mixed consist of Baldie and Plushie 4000-series cars -- pulls into Oak Park station circa 1954. The platforms at Oak Park are staggered; the station house and inbound platform can be seen across the street in the background. The white sign on the train's front chains reads, "MEETS 4:36 CA&E". After the interurban cut back its trains from the Loop to Forest Park in 1953, many commuters rode the "L" to connect to interurban trains to the western suburbs. The CTA assisted customers by having trains carry signs that noted what CA&E trains they connected with. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by B.L. Stone, courtesy of the Krambles-Peterson Archive)