Looking west across Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive -- a wide, park-median boulevard that was named South Parkway when the Kenwood branch was operating -- at the abandoned entrance to the former South Parkway station in 2000. The entrance to the station, embedded in the embankment, is intact, but all three doorways have been bricked over. Like several other parts of the embankment at street crossings, a mural has been painted on the concrete to make it more attractive. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by William Davidson)

South Parkway (800E/4100S)
South Parkway and 40th Street, Kenwood (Oakland)

Service Notes:

Kenwood Line

Quick Facts:

Address: TBD
Established: September 20, 1907
Original Line: South Side Elevated, Kenwood branch
Previous Names: none
Skip-Stop Type: n/a
Rebuilt: n/a
Status: Demolished


Interior view of the South Parkway station, showing how dilapidated they stations got by the time of their closure in the 1950s. (Photo from the Chicago Transit Authority Collection)

This simple concrete-and-steel station was typical of those found on the Kenwood branch. Its concrete island floor and simple canopy latticework suited the largely unoccupied neighborhood at the time of its construction. The station houses, one at the east end of the station at Drexel and one at the west end at Cottage Grove, were molded into the concrete embankment. Never lavish by any standards, their exterior's were plain concrete with three doors (the main double-doors in the center flanked by two smaller doors) decorated only by a simple pediment over each entrance. Inside, amenities were minimal or nonexistent. The walls were concrete or (usually badly-water damaged) plaster with some wood moldings. Lighting was incandescent and the interior was broken up by naked steel I-beams. Only a simple wooden fare booth usually broke up the floor space.

Developers responded to the new line by building elegant new apartments (especially along scenic Drexel Boulevard) and converting single family dwellings into multifamily boarding houses. During this early development, the neighborhood was quite white collar, including many German Jews, Irish and English workers. By the 1930s, an increasing number of transients and single persons populated the neighborhood, followed by large numbers of African Americans in the 1940s. Stock Yards workers were common here too.

By the mid-1950s, it was becoming apparent that falling ridership and increasing deterioration of the Kenwood Line would require some sort of immediate action. Three plans were formulated for how to continue service - purchasing the route from the Chicago Junction Railway (from whom CTA rented the property), leasing it from the CJRwy, and purchase by an outside agency for CTA use - but all of these included modernization of the Kenwood stations. As part of a $3,100 modernization plan covering both the Kenwood and Stock Yards Lines, drawings dated July 13, 1956 show that the CTA planned to minimize and streamline the stations to achieve maximize usage with as little operations costs as possible. The two side doors of the Cottage Grove entrance were to be sealed with transite and the doors of the center passage were to be removed. Floor-to-ceiling cornerless transit walls were to be used to partition off the interior of the station house, creating only a passageway from the door up to the stairs to the platform. Lamps were to be upgraded to a higher wattage for better security and new fare controls were to be installed. Only half the platform and canopy were to be retained. The Drexel station house and the half of the platform nearest to it were to be sealed off and abandoned.

Despite all of these efforts and plans, ridership was deemed too low and costs too high to continue service on this lightly used line. Service was discontinued on the Kenwood branch on December 1, 1957.


southpark02.jpg (112k)
This view looks northeast in December 2002 at the abandoned entrance to the South Parkway station within the embankment of the former Kenwood elevated and Chicago Junction freight line. The boarded up building on the left opened in 1917 as the Peerless Theater -- located at 3955 S. Grand Blvd. -- one of the city's countless neighborhood movie theaters. It was later called the "Park Theater" before being closed. (Photo by John Smatlak)