South Boulevard station, looking west on October 20, 2002. The beaux-arts elements typical of many of Arthur Gerber's rapid transit stations are evident -- as well as the use of Doric elements in the twin fluted columns -- but unfortunately the original lights have been replaced. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

South Boulevard (525N/500W)
South Boulevard and Chicago Avenue, City of Evanston

Service Notes:

Purple Line: Evanston

Quick Facts:

Address: 602 South Boulevard
Established: July 1, 1931
Original Line: North Side Division, Evanston branch
Previous Names: none
Skip-Stop Type: All-Stop
Rebuilt: n/a
Status: In Use


The station at South Boulevard was built in 1930-31, replacing the Calvary Cemetery station one block south. Opened on July 1, 1931, this site was far better suited to serve the increasing population in the new apartments north of the cemetery. As a result of the move, ridership doubled Calvary's boardings during the period 1932-1946.

Designed by Arthur U. Gerber, who also designed the very similar Sheridan station on the Howard line, this depot combines elements of Doric and Beaux Arts designs, executed in Terra Cotta. Trademark Gerber details include the laurel-framed cartouches, pair of Greek Revival Doric columns, globed lights and the words "Rapid Transit" above the door in Terra Cotta. The interior is executed in smooth stone with a spacious fare control area, large enough for retail space, but not partitioned off for use in that capacity. It remains historically intact, with its original terrazzo floors, wood moldings, and decorative agent's booth.

The platform is of the island variety between the middle two tracks. The platform had wood decking and a canopy with metal columns down the center line which split into gently-curving gull wing-shaped roof supports, supporting a wooden canopy roof. The stairs are sheltered by wooden enclosures with swinging doors at the front of each enclosure. The platform, which was later replaced with a concrete deck, is unusually narrow.

South Boulevard remains largely intact, but unfortunately lost its original light fixtures in early 1998. Back when the Evanston Line used overhead trolley wire (in effect until 1973), trains raised and lowered their poles at this station. A spur track -- sometimes called the "team track" -- diverges from the northbound track in the middle of the station and continues a short distance to the north. This track was used for freight interchange with trucks and is still occasionally used to load materials onto work cars.

During early April 2004, South Boulevard received new platform signage. The older KDR-type station name signs were replaced with new Green Line Graphic Standard versions. The thinner strap brackets that held up the previous signs were replaced with more substantial steel frames. Also replaced were the directional wayfinding signs, the long signs directing passengers to which direction of service operates on which side of the platform, at the top of each stair to the platform. Column-mounted "symbol signs" were installed in May. Interestingly, this represented the first time that Green Line Graphic Standard signage was applied to a Purple Line station (discounting shared facilities at Chicago and in the Loop). In June 2005, new station entrance signs were added at street level, hung over the sidewalk from the concrete viaduct.


Red-Purple Lines Modernization (RPM) Project

Due to the deteriorating condition of the infrastructure on the Red Line north of Belmont and on the Purple Line, the CTA initiated the Red-Purple Modernization Project (RPM) to bring the existing transit stations, track systems, and structures into a state of good repair. The project, which stretches along the existing Red and Purple lines from north of Belmont station to Linden terminal, would help bring the existing transit line into a state of good repair, reduce travel times, improve access to job markets and destinations, and provide improved access to people with disabilities.

The project began in 2009 with a vision study to assess the scope of needs and develop a set of alternatives for study. In 2010, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), CTA and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) initiated the environmental review process for the project and undertook work to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The process included numerous public meetings and input opportunities, and study of various alternatives for achieving a good state of repair for the infrastructure in the project area.

A number of alternatives are under consideration for the RPM project, including the comprehensive reconstruction of track, stations, and structures along the line. The four options currently under consideration and study, not including an FTA-required "no action" baseline scenario, include:

The Modernization with Station Consolidation option includes the consolidation of South Blvd. and Main stations by closing the existing South Blvd. station and adding a new entrance to Main at Madison Avenue, approximately two blocks north of South Blvd. station.

Other alternatives considered earlier in the study but subsequently eliminated due to public comment and further study included basic rehabilitation without adding a transfer station at Loyola, a modernization option with only three tracks between Lawrence and Howard, and a modernization option with a 2-track subway under Broadway.

The full-scale modernization envisioned on the Red-Purple Modernization Project could cost anywhere from $2.5 to $5 billion. On February 8, 2012, the CTA board retained Goldman Sachs & Co. to lead the search for public-private partnerships to help finance the reconstruction, which has no firm date. Goldman Sachs will work with Chicago-based Loop Capital Markets LLC and Estrada Hinojosa & Co., but will accept no fee for the first year as it determines the ability to raise private capital.

See CTA's Red & Purple Modernization page for more information about the scoping and planning process, and the various alternatives being considered.

The island platform at South Boulevard, looking south from the north end on May 8, 2004. The canopy edge has been painted purple to denote its location on the line of the same name. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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This view looking north from the South Blvd. platform on September 10, 1963 shows the South Boulevard team track branching off from the main line. The team track was a rail siding for general usage by freight shippers where freight cars could be spotted and loaded or unloaded by an industry or shipper. The small sign to the right of the switch reads, "RAISE TROLLEY POLES HERE". About two months earlier, on July 6, 1963, trolley wire was replaced with third rail on the Evanston Line between Howard and South Blvd. However, the line north of South Blvd. to Isabella and the team track still used overhead trolley wire to power trains, requiring trolley poles on the cars to the raised and lowered here. (CTA Photo, Graham Garfield Collection)

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South Boulevard station, looking east in 1985. The beaux-arts elements typical of many of Arthur Gerber's rapid transit stations are evident. The original light fixtures are still intact in this view. (Photo by Olga Stefanos)

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The interior of South Boulevard station, seen here looking north in the unpaid area on October 20, 2002, is quite spacious. There is more than enough room for either a waiting room space or a concessionaire, but it has never regularly been used as the former and the latter has never been anything more substantial than a newsstand or shoeshine. Still, it is very well-intact historically, with its original agent's booth, terrazzo floors, and wall moldings. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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This view looking east on South Boulevard on October 20, 2002 shows a good side profile of the station, including the molded concrete viaduct in front, the brick and glass paneled sides of the headhouse, and the platform above. The Illinois Dept. of Public Health's antismoking ad wrap cars are above on a charter for the 2002 Historic "L" Station Tour. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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New station name signs and directional signs were installed at South Blvd. station in April 2004, as seen looking north on May 8, 2004 just north of the north stairs from the station house. New symbol signs followed in May. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The tour group is assembled in front of South Blvd. station to view the ornate facade as the guides share information about the facility during the 4th Annual Historic "L" Station Tour on October 20, 2002. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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The fluted Doric pillar of Beaux-Arts South Blvd. station provides the backdrop of Guide John Craib-Cox's discussion of the station's architectural design and building materials as tour members attentively listen during the 4th Annual Historic "L" Station Tour on October 20, 2002. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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A four-car Purple Line Shuttle led by car 2860 pulls into South Blvd. on it's way to Howard on September 26, 1999. (Photo by Mike Farrell)

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Pulling south out of South Boulevard. heading to Howard to complete its run, car 2858 is at the rear of a Purple Line Shuttle train on September 26, 1999. (Photo by Mike Farrell)