The State/Lake Inner Loop elevated station, looking north on State Street on May 25, 2017. Other than the steel structure, the peaked roof in the middle is the only part of the original station house left (of course, the covering has been replaced, probably several times), and suggests how small the original building was. The current exterior curtain wall was installed in 2008; the lower panels under the windows can light up in different colors, and in different patterns, and are often programmed for various seasons and holidays. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

State/Lake (0E-W/200N)
State Street and Lake Street, Loop

Service Notes:

Green Line: Lake-Ashland-East 63rd

Brown Line: Ravenswood

Orange Line: Midway

Purple Line: Evanston Express

Pink Line: 54/Cermak-Loop

Transfer Station (Transfer to Red Line subway by farecard only)


Quick Facts:

Address: 200 N. State Street
Established: September 22, 1895
Original Line: Lake Street Elevated/Union Elevated Railroad
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:


Rebuilt: n/a
Status: In Use


State/Lake outer (north, westbound) platform. The wall that the man is leaning on and the outer wall with the windows were once two walls of an enclosed waiting area, removed by 1913. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Bruce G. Moffat)

Though the exact alignment of the Loop was debated and changed several times, the use of Lake Street as the north leg was never seriously questioned. This suited the Lake Street Elevated just fine, making their connection to the Loop all the more simple. On December 28, 1894, LeGrand W, Pierce, president of the Yerkes-backed Union Elevated Railroad, and Lake Street Elevated president Delancey H. Louderback reached an agreement. The Union Elevated funded the cost of five of the seven block north leg from Market to Wabash, but ownership would stay with the Lake Street to pacify some property owners who still feared the presence of a Union Loop.

By late summer, 1895, the Lake Street extension was constructed to Wabash Avenue with stations at Fifth Avenue (later called Wells Street), Clark Street, and State Street. No station was built at the end of the line at Wabash because it was known that the east leg of the Loop would need to be able to connect there. The Lake Street Elevated began service over this extension September 22, 1895. The full quadrangle of the Loop, and thus its usage by the other "L" companies, did not materialize until 1897. This represents a unique place in history for the State/Lake station and the rest of the north leg, a s it predates the rest of the Loop by several years.

All four legs of the Loop employed a different, unique style for its station houses and the Lake Street leg was no exception. They were originally quite small and incorporated elements from many styles, including some Classical Revival elements and features reminiscent of a Chinese pagoda. By 1913, many of the Loop stations underwent a number of renovations and unfortunately, State/Lake was one of them. (This general rehab of the "L" also resulted in the construction of a new Randolph/Wells station.) The original trackside waiting rooms were removed and new open booths were installed. Left intact, however, were much of the roofs, all platform canopies, posts, railings and many other features.

A 4000-series train, probably on the Lake Street route, is stopped at State & Lake on its way to Forest Park, looking west in the mid-1950s. Excerpt for newer advertisements, signs, and lights, this scene looks nearly identical today. For a larger view, click here. (Photo from the CTA Collection)

In 1958, with the opening of the new Congress Line and the inauguration of West-Northwest service, "L"-to-subway transfers were revised. Free transfers between Randolph/Wells and Lake Transfer and between State/Lake and Washington/State were discontinued. The "up" (subway-to-"L") transfer between Lake Transfer and Clark/Lake was maintained, but a new "down" only between State/Van Buren and Jackson-Van Buren/Dearborn was initiated, as well as an "up" and "down" transfer between State/Van Buren and Jackson-Van Buren/State. The free transfers between State/Van Buren, Jackson-Van Buren/Dearborn and Jackson-Van Buren/State were discontinued in 1969 when the Dan Ryan Line opened and West-South service was inaugurated. At this time, free transfers between State/Lake and Washington/State were reinstated. Because there is no physical connection between the paid areas of these stations, riders had to exit the elevated station after having their transfer stamped by a machine and enter the Washington/State subway at the Lake-Randolph mezzanine, presenting their stamped transfer.

In 1966, State/Lake became the first Loop "L" station to receive an escalator for passenger convenience as part of a series of station improvements and renovations the CTA performed in the mid- and late-1960s. An escalator on the southwest corner of State and Lake was placed in service on December 23. Mayor Richard J. Daley and CTA Board Chairman George L. DeMent both attended the opening ceremonies. The escalator, which operated in the "up" direction, was protected by an enclosure of plexiglas and aluminum construction and lit by fluorescent lighting. Infrared heaters were installed at the base of the escalator. Upon reaching platform level, the escalator arrived at a landing, which led into the Inner Loop station house. A second escalator was completed a few weeks later at State/Van Buren. The cost of installing the two escalators -- one each at State/Lake and State/Van Buren -- was $205,355. State/Lake's escalator remained in service until November 1990 when it was replaced with a set of stairs.

The facade of State/Lake was "modernized" with the installation of a curtain wall in 1968.

Christmas shoppers try out a covered escalator at State and Lake Station. The moving stairs opened Dec. 23, 1966.

State/Lake is the last of the Lake Street Loop stations to survive, albeit in a somewhat altered form. The Wells/Lake station was demolished only a few years after its construction. Since it was later decided to use Wells Street as the west leg of the Loop, the south station house and platform had to be removed in 1896 for the connection and those on the north side of the tracks were removed in 1899 to make way for the Northwestern Elevated's connection to the Loop from the north. The Clark/Lake station was demolished and rebuilt by the CTA in 1990. This leaves only State/Lake remaining. Today, the outer shell of the State/Lake station houses remain, but they have fallen into a state of disrepair and, in fact, have been gutted with even the trackside exterior walls removed, which is unfortunate considering the new State Street renovation and its proximity to the Chicago Theater and the new theater district. The station does, however, still have its old ornate railings and canopy in fair condition, as well as the exterior of the outer station.

In 1993, the CTA installed special turnstiles at State/Lake and at the Lake-Randolph mezzanine of Washington/State that dispensed transfers. Passengers transferring between the stations received a transfer upon leaving through the special turnstile and presented it to the station agent at the other station. In 1997, a new machine was installed in the paid area at State/Lake that issued free "L"-to-subway transfers, removing from service the special transfer-issuing turnstiles. On June 22, 1997, electronic transit card vending machines were activated at all Loop stations. Later that summer, the transit card AVMs were activated at all Red Line stations and shortly thereafter, transfers were granted between the Loop and the Red Line subway by using transit cards only, which did not deduct the 30 cent transfer when used.

The facades of both the Inner and Outer Loop stations over State Street were refurbished in 2008 by the City. Both the aluminum-frame and plexiglas panel facade from the 1960s on the Inner Loop (south) side, and the older (and far more piecemeal) facade on the Outer Loop (north) side that still included some wood exterior cladding and double-hung windows that dated from an earlier incarnation of the station house (perhaps from the 1910s or earlier) were removed, and replaced with new exterior curtain walls on both sides. The upper portion consists largely of windows, while the lower panels were semi-translucent and made to light up in different colors, and in different patterns -- these are often programmed to light up in different ways for various seasons and holidays. Only the peaked roof in the middle section on each side provides any remnant of where the original station houses were, and how small they were.


Inner Loop Platform Expansion, Rearrangement

The structure for the widened platform and expanded canopy has been installed in this June 24, 2016 view, including new pillars along the back edge of the new platform and crossbeams to take the load off the pillars along the old back railing, which will be removed. For a larger view, click here.(Photo by Graham Garfield)

Due to high ridership, narrow platforms relative to modern standards, and several piecemeal modifications over the years, by the early 21st century State/Lake commonly experienced problems with bottlenecks and crowding, particularly on the platforms. Both Customer Assistant booths were built as Ticket Agent booths -- Outer Loop booth dates from mid-20th century at least, and has a pentagon-shaped footprint with the angled faces on the unpaid side and the long, flat side along the platform edge; the Inner Loop booth is more recent, and was narrow but long (so two agents could sit next to one another), set perpendicular to the tracks. Both created an especially narrow space between the booth wall and the platform edge, with conditions compounded by passengers' tendency to pass through the turnstiles next to the booth and then stop and stand rather than spreading out down the platform, as well as by growing ridership -- average daily entries were 1.2 million annually by 2016, up nearly 40 percent since 2010.1

While State/Lake is planned to be completed reconstructed long-term (see next section), the CTA desired to make some short-term upgrades to alleviate some of the bottleneck and circulation issues to improve crowding and safety. The problems were somewhat worse Inner Loop platform, no doubt due to more services using the Inner Loop track including trains to Midway Airport, drawing customers with cumbersome, bulky luggage or who were less experienced riders, so the CTA prioritized this platform first for improvement.

The widened portion of the State/Lake Inner Loop platform, just east of the fare controls, looking south from the Outer Loop platform on May 24, 2017, as the Chicago Theater marque peaks above the canopy. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

The CTA undertook the construction work entirely in-house, with about a half-dozen CTA departments collaborating on a much-needed station platform capacity expansion project in 2016. The goals of the project were to increase platform space, improve passenger flow and address workplace safety hazards on the Inner Loop platform.

The project took advantage of some structural steel that had already been installed several years prior, during the Loop Track Renewal Project, for an earlier planned platform expansion project. This structural steel, located to the east of the fare control area near the southeast corner of State and Lake streets, was utilized for the improvement program, and allowed this section of platform, where customers most commonly congregated, to be widened.

Between April and October 2016, crews performed improvements to the Inner Loop platform with minimal impact to riders by completing work at night and piggy-backing on other track closures for the Washington/Wabash station project, including a 54-hour weekend closure of the station. Improvements undertaken included replacement of worn and rotted platform decking; the aforementioned widening of the east end of the Inner platform; removal of several obstructions on the platform (i.e. a false wall, large janitor box, some original 1895 canopy posts); installation of a new, smaller CA booth; relocation of turnstiles and rotogates; the addition of new wide turnstile gate (commonly used for wheelchair/ADA access, but here intended for use by passengers with luggage and other large item) and exit-only turnstiles; lighting upgrades; and repositioning digital displays. In total, platform capacity was increased by 400 square feet and passenger flow improved enough to result in a reduction in train dwell times by up to 20 seconds.2

Similar work was planned occur soon after on the station's Outer platform.3


Plans for Renovation and Consolidation

On September 11, 1998, the CTA announced that they plan to permanently close the State/Lake and Madison/Wabash elevated stations and replace the Randolph/Wabash facility with a "super station." Supposedly combining function, aesthetics and the need to replace "L" structures that date to the 1890s, the $29 million project would result in more streamlined CTA operations, according to officials.

The proposed new station, sporting main entrances and turnstiles on Randolph, Wabash and Washington and a full-length covering to protect commuters from the elements, would have become the third-busiest station in the CTA's then-142-station system and would have included a pedway connection to the Red Line subway one block away, according to officials. The design of the station, which at the end of the 1990s was undergoing final review by officials from the city, the CTA and the Greater State Street Council, was described as a traditional, but modernized version of the Madison/Wabash station. As part of the construction work, the entire elevated structure was to be rebuilt from Lake to Washington Streets and the supports down the middle of Wabash were to be replaced by columns anchored along the curbs.

By the early 2000s, the City had revised these plans and decided not to consolidate all three stations -- State/Lake, Randolph/Wabash, and Madison/Wabash -- into one. Rather, Randolph and Madison would be consolidated into a new Washington/Wabash station, while a new independent State/Lake station would be built, located slightly to the east between State and Wabash so that large station structures would not block the vista up and down State Street. By the mid-2000s, the City's plans for this station were under development. Construction was not expected until some time later in the decade.

On October 12, 2017, the City announced that the reconstruction of State/Lake would be the next transit station project the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) would take on, having just completed the Washington/Wabash project. The City stated that the new State/Lake station would be a modern, fully accessible station with wider platforms, built to 21st Century design standards, consistent with the new Washington/Wabash station.4 In October 2019, it was stated that the new station might include an elevator connection to the Red Line subway.5

In October 2017, a $56.9 million federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) allowed CDOT to accelerate work in collaboration with the CTA to launch the design process for a new station. The $56.9 million grant was in addition to existing design funding of $5.5 million. However, these grants do not cover the full cost of construction, and the City plans to seek additional federal funding for construction.6 In October 2019, the project was approved to get another $59 million.7

The full cost of the new station will not be determined until the design process progresses, but it is expected that it will exceed the construction cost of the new station at Washington/Wabash of $75 million. CDOT, which will manage the project for the CTA, expects to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) before the end of 2017 for design services for Phases 1 and 2 of the new station, moving the City towards setting a timetable for construction.8

State/Lake is the last remaining example of 1895 Loop architecture from the State Street Leg, despite its altered condition. The station still sports its original decorative railings and canopies, among other remnants.


The State/Lake elevated station, looking west on the Outer Loop platform on August 22, 2004. The station's original 1895 canopies, as well as the original decorative railing (beneath the canopies) are still in place, allowing this station keep much of its character. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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A Lake "A" train of 4000s stops at State & Lake while heading westbound on the Inner Loop circa the 1950s. At this time, the Loop was operated uni-directionally (counterclockwise) with Evanston Express and (usually) Ravenswood trains on the Outer Loop and Lake, Garfield, and Douglas trains on the Inner Loop. (Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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State/Lake station is seen looking north on State Street in during the Christmas season of 1967, with the holiday decorations on the street lights and stations. The escalator to the station behind the State-Lake Theater marque was installed earlier that year and Marina City, towering in the background, had been completed three years previous. The bus in the left foreground is on one of two Joliet-Chicago routes of the West Suburban Transit Lines, a descendent of an interurban railway. (Photo by Miles Beitler)

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A midday 2-car Lake-Dan Ryan All-Stop is led by car 2237, pulling into State & Lake on July 4, 1971. (Photo by Joe Testagrose)

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Car 2249 leads a Lake-Dan Ryan All-Stop at State & Lake on July 4, 1971. Note the rather plain white metal sign below the agent's window that simply reads "State & Lake": these signs, which predated the CTA's symbol signs, were common on Loop station platforms. (Photo by Joe Testagrose)

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Car 2029, in the Spirit of Chicago paint scheme, leads a Lake-Dan Ryan "A" train at State/Lake on August 30, 1982. (Photo by Doug Grotjahn, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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By 1982, the vast majority of 2400-series cars were assigned to the Lake-Dan Ryan Line. This practice is once again the case today with the Green Line. Car 2485 leads a Lake-Dan Ryan "A" train, looking east at State/Lake on August 30, 1982. (Photo by Doug Grotjahn, Collection of Joe Testagrose)

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State/Lake station's platforms, looking west on the Inner Loop in 1999. The canopies covered the original station platform, which could berth only 2-3 car trains. The photo shows just how much the platforms have been extended, far enough that 8-car trains can now fully berth. (Photo from the CTA Collection)

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The platforms at State/Lake, looking west on the Inner Loop in 1999. The station serves as a indirect transfer to the Red Line subway, with riders having to leave the paid area to enter the subway station at Lake. The sign on the far right was erected to let riders know they could transfer, but was eventually taken down as it was nonstandard. (Photo from the CTA Collection)

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The Inner Loop station house at State/Lake, looking southeast in 1999. The track-level station house is fully integrated into the platform, blurring the line between the two. The Chicago Theater is in the background. (Photo from the CTA Collection)

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An Orange Line train, trailed by car 3304, stops at State/Lake in this view looking east on September 10, 2000. (Photo by Ernie Baudler)

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State/Lake at Christmas time!! The Inner Loop station house is all dressed up for the holidays, looking north in 2000. This was the station used for the exterior shots in the film While You Were Sleeping. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The intersection under the State/Lake station was filled with emergency vehicles during the aftermath of a June 19, 2003 incident in which a women fell of the Outer Loop platform in front of a berthing Brown Line train. Service on the Lake leg of the Loop was suspended for four hours in the height of rush hour. This view looks northeast just after officers removed the barricade around the site, life in the Loop was just getting back to normal. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The decorations of the holiday season are seen at State/Lake on December 18, 2003, with reindeer, ribbon, and Christmas lights on the station, as well as colored globes on the stairway kiosk of the Lake-Randolph subway station. The State Street Council sponsors most of the decorations on State Street during the holidays. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The State/Lake Outer Loop elevated station, looking south on State Street on April 8, 2004. The center section with the peaked roof is the old section of the station; the other Plexiglas and wood curtain walls were added later. Note the Chicago Theater in the background.  (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The State/Lake platforms are seen looking east from the Inner Loop platform on August 12, 2006. The pink stripe on the column was added less than two months before when the Pink Line service was inaugurated. (Photo by Jamaal Thomas)

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A KDR-type symbol sign from the State/Lake Inner Loop station, with its blue background denoting its status as an AB or All-Stop station. The KDR symbol signs on the Loop were different in that they simply spelled out the entire station name at the top rather than using a large first letter of the station name (the "symbol", so to speak) with the name below that. They also denoted whether the station was on the Inner or Outer Loop. (Sign from the Andrew Stiffler Collection)

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Assigned to the Pink Line, car 5009 leads a rush period 54th/Cermak train entering State/Lake station, seen looking west from the Outer Loop platform on January 4, 2011. (Photo by Graham Garfield)
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An 8-car train of 2400-series cars stops at State/Lake on November 7, 2012, trailed by car 2433. The destination sign on the rear car is not an error -- the train is operating on the Orange Line. 2400-series cars began to be assigned to the Orange Line at the end of October 2012. Rather than replacing 3200s assigned to the line, the 2400s supplemented the fleet and increased the line's car count. The intent was to use them on additional Brown Line runs scheduled to originate from Midway Yard beginning December 16, 2012, and as such the 2400s were chosen because it would limit the use of the 36-year old cars to rush periods. However, the cars occasionally found their way onto Orange Line trips as well. The 2400s are the first type to be permanently assigned to the line other than the 3200-series type the line opened with in 1993. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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Looking west on the State/Lake Inner Loop platform on June 24, 2016, new columns and beams have been installed to modify the vintage canopy to accommodate the soon-to-be-widened platform. A new set of columns down the middle of the platform replaced the original ones, and mimic their look. The new overhead beam transfers the load of the canopy from the columns along the old back of the platform -- which have already been cut off at the top and will be removed, along with the original back railing -- to new columns along the new, deeper back of the platform. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The CTA Ironworkers performing the structural work for the widened Inner platform at State/Lake made the new railings for the expanded platform to match the design of the original 1895 ornate railings. This June 27, 2016 compares the two, with the originals in the foreground. The design was replicated very closely; one of the few differences eagle-eyed observers might notice is that the straps of curved metal on the original are connected by small rivets, whereas the modern replicas are welded. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The State/Lake Inner Loop fare control area is seen looking east on the unpaid side on September 21, 2016, shortly before its reconfiguration and refurbishment. The mural-decorated booth is long enough to fit two ticket agents -- the other window is on the other side of the booth -- a requirement long since obsolete since ticket agents had been transitioned to customer assistants two decades earlier. The long booth created a narrow passage past it on the unpaid side; an equally narrow walkway also resulted on the paid side, between the booth and the edge of the platform. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The Inner Loop platform at State/Lake is seen looking west at the turnstiles on May 24, 2017, after the project to improve circulation. The new, smaller CA booth can just be seen behind the turnstiles in the background. While still not a wide platform by modern standards, the relocation and downsizing the booth did help remove a pinch-point here -- previously, the circulation space between the platform edge and nearest obstruction (the old booth) was about half of what it is now, seen here. Note the original 1895 brackets with ornamental scrollwork. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The widened State/Lake Inner platform area, where the largest number of passenger congregate and wait, is seen looking east on May 24, 2017. The decorative railings seen behind the aluminum windbreak and in the background are reproductions and mimic the originals. Roofing still needs to be installed on the canopy over the new, widened portion of the platform, as does final painting. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The reconfigured fare controls a State/Lake Inner are seen looking northwest from the unpaid side on May 24, 2017. The new, smaller CA booth is in the background. In the refurbishment project, the position of the booth and the turnstiles were flipped (the turnstiles were previously on the other side of the old booth), two additional exit-only turnstiles were added (nearest to the camera) to help serve the larger number of customers were use the middle and east portions of the platform and help get them off the platform quicker, and a swing gate turnstile was added (closest to the booth, not clearly visible), which are usually primarily used for wheelchairs but, as State/Lake is not accessible, was added here to assist customers with luggage (this being the side for Orange Line trains to Midway), carts, strollers, and other large parcels. (Photo by Graham Garfield)



1. "Safety @ Work: State/Lake Elevated inner platform capacity project," CTA Up to Speed newsletter, Volume 19, Winter 2017, pg. 3.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. "Mayor Emanuel, CDOT and CTA Announce Critical Federal Funding is Secured for New State and Lake Train Station." City of Chicago press release, October 12, 2017.
5. McCoppin, Robert. "CTA and Metra stations, Barrington, Naperville and other transportation projects get federal funding." Chicago Tribune, October 11, 2019.
6. City of Chicago press release, October 12, 2017.
7. McCoppin, ibid.
8. Ibid.