The remodeled, Art Deco-influenced mezzanine at Randolph-Washington, looking west from the doorway to the Pedway and Marshall Fields on June 8, 2001. The turnstiles on the right (under the sign reading 'Trains to 95/Dan Ryan') lead down to the Lake station, while the turnstiles on the left (obstructed by the columns) lead to the Washington station. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)


(128N/1E-1W) Randolph-Washington

(20N/1E-1W) Washington-Madison

Washington Street and State Street, Loop

Service Notes:

Red Line: State Street Subway

Quick Facts:


128 N. State Street (Randolph-Washington mezzanine)

20 N. State Street (Washington-Madison mezzanine)

Established: October 17, 1943
Original Line: State Street Subway
Previous Names: none

Skip-Stop Type:


Rebuilt: 1982, 1996
Status: Closed


The Washington-Madison mezzanine, looking southwest on June 8, 2001. Except for the modern AVMs, the mezzanine is still largely untouched from when it opened in 1943. The booth on the left is, however, disused now and passengers cannot access the platform from the south stairs. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Washington was typical of all the State Street subway stations. Described at the time as of a "modern design" (really somewhere between art deco and art moderne), the mezzanine stations have smooth concrete floors and ceilings and white glazed tile walls (sometimes referred to as "structural glass"). The fare control booth is of stone walls with a small ventilation grate near the bottom and glass windows on all four sides. Turnstiles were steel. The Washington station actually consisted of three mezzanines -- from north to south: Lake-Randolph, Randolph-Washington, and Washington-Madison -- with a staggered stopping pattern between the three. The island platform, 3,500 feet long, in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest subway platform in the world, has red no-slip concrete floors, curved concrete ceilings and I-beam steel columns. Fluorescent lights and illuminated station signs hanging from the ceilings originally finished the decoration.

Unfortunately, neither the State Street nor Milwaukee-Dearborn subways have direct connections to the Loop elevated stations. Free transfers were provided, however, between Washington/State and State/Lake on the Loop. (Transfers were also initially allowed between Jackson/State and State/Van Buren, but apparently discontinued when CTA took over in 1947.) In 1958, with the opening of the new Congress Line and the inauguration of West-Northwester 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 subway station after having their transfer stamped by a machine and enter the elevated station, presenting their stamped transfer to the agent. In December 1971, the transfer-issuing booth at Washington was moved from the platform to the Lake-Randolph mezzanine, which was the closest to the State/Lake elevated station.

Amid a series of station closures and service reductions in the 1970s, the Washington-Madison mezzanine entrance to the station was closed from 2200 to 0600 hours Monday-Saturday and all day Sundays effective September 12, 1976.


Washington Gets a Facelift

Mayor Byrne announced the Subway Renovation Program on Friday, May 7, 1982, beginning a program that also included her inaugural ride on CTA's new 2600-series rapid transit cars, and a rededication of the 47th Street station.

The Subway Renovation Program, encompassing both the State and Dearborn Street Subways, included the continuous platforms on State between Lake and Congress and on Dearborn between Randolph and Van Buren; the 14 mezzanines along these platforms (Lake-Randolph, Randolph-Washington, Washington-Madison, Madison-Monroe, Monroe-Adams, Adams-Jackson, Jackson-Van Buren, and Van Buren-Congress on State and Randolph-Washington through Jackson-Van Buren on Dearborn); and the four pedestrian passageways connecting the State and Dearborn Subways here and at Jackson at both the mezzanines and platforms. In addition, mezzanines and platforms would have been renovated at Chicago, Grand, Harrison, and Roosevelt on State and the Lake Transfer and LaSalle/Congress stations on Dearborn.

Above: The continuous platform at Washington station, looking north at the stairs to the Randolph-Washington mezzanine in 1965 as a Jackson Park "B" train of 6000s approaches. (Photo from the Graham Garfield Collection)

Below: Nearly the same view, looking north toward the stairs to Randolph-Washington on June 8, 2001. The stair enclosure has been remodeled in an Art Deco-influenced style, but the platform remains largely the same. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

At all mezzanines, the existing facilities were to be stripped back to their basic structural shell and completely renovated with gray granite panels with stainless steel accents. New fare collection facilities, lighting, flooring, and column coverings were also to be installed. A uniform system of signage and maps would be provided and facilities for the enhancement of passenger security would be incorporated. Amenities such as telephones and concession areas would also have been provided as appropriate. At the platform level, new lighting, flooring, wall, ceiling, and column treatments would have been provided. Stairways and escalators from the platforms to the mezzanines would be replaced or renovated in kind. Signage, maps, benches, and concession facilities will be compatible with those developed for the mezzanine.

The Randolph-Washington mezzanine closed on May 7th and renovation began Tuesday, May 25, 1982 and simultaneously at the Randolph-Washington mezzanine on the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway. At the same time, the Washington-Madison mezzanine temporarily returned to 24 hour service for the duration of the renovation work. Work was completed swiftly, with the Randolph-Washington mezzanines on both the State and Dearborn Subways reopening on November 26, 1982. On the same date, the Washington-Madison mezzanine returned to part-time hours.

Work at the other stations proceeded at a delayed rate or, in some cases, not at all. None of the other State Street mezzanines were remodeled at this time, with the Washington-Madison mezzanine in the Dearborn Subway the only other station remodeled during Byrne's administration. The only other stations remodeled under this program were Adams-Jackson mezzanines at Jackson/State and Jackson/Dearborn in the early years of the Richard M. Daley administration, some eight years later. None of the platform-level remodeling was ever completed under this program.

In 1993, the CTA installed special turnstiles at State/Lake and at the Lake-Randolph mezzanine at Washington 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 Renovation Gets Renovated (Again)

The Randolph-Washington mezzanine became the only mezzanine to be renovated twice, this time in the colorful Art Deco-influenced style pioneered at Roosevelt/State in the mid-1990s. On June 2, 1996, Randolph-Washington was closed at 0600 hours for renovation. The project included the installation of new elevators, new flooring, new CA booths, new janitor, electrical, and auxiliary control rooms, and new colored tile wall finishes in an Art Deco motif, with the tones (in this case, red) denoting the line and pictures on the tiles (in this case, silhouettes of skyscrapers) denoting the station's location (downtown, here). The station's name is also molded into the tile work and lighting has been improved markedly. The lighter colors and airier design give the station a more spacious feel, from the tile mosaic walls to the sunburst deco column capitals. The stair/escalator bank was redecorated as well, as was the elevator bank. The Washington section of the continuous platform was not, however, part of the initial project.

The Washington-Madison entrance, formally a part-time mezzanine, became open 24 hours for the duration of the project. At this time, the Washington station began an interesting history of expanding and contracting in length. With the closure of the Randolph-Washington mezzanine (which had hereunto served as the middle of three mezzanines of the four-block long Washington station) on June 2, 1996, two separate station stops were established for customer convenience, since the two remaining entrances at either end of the two-block-long former Washington station were so far away from each other. The north half of the former Washington stop, served by the Lake-Randolph mezzanine, was referred to as "Washington-Lake", and was intended to serve Loop "L"-subway transfers. The south half of the former Washington stop, served by the Washington-Madison mezzanine, was referred to as "Washington-Madison", and was intended to serve transfers to/from the Blue Line. (Some leftover signage at the south end of the platform calling the stop "Madison" remained for some time.) On July 21, the continuous platform was divided into two parts due to construction around the Randolph-Washington mezzanine, physically separating the two Washington stops.

New Cubic Automatic Revenue Collection fare gates have been installed at the Washington-Madison mezzanine on July 2, 1996. The temporary signs above the gates alert passengers that coins, tokens and transfer cars are accepted; eventually, they'd be converted to TransitCards. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Art Peterson)

On November 22, 1996, the north agent's booths in the Randolph-Washington mezzanine were reopened at 1000 hours, serving the Washington-Lake stop on a 24 hours a day/7 days a week basis. This reopening was short-lived, however, as it was re-closed at 1930 hours on February 7, 1997 to allow further work to progress. Three days later, however, the south portion of Randolph-Washington reopened temporarily at 0600 hours as a part-time entrance between 0600 and 1930 hours, with renovation work continuing during the off-hours.

On September 15, 1997, with most of the renovation work completed, the dual stops at Washington were eliminated and the station became unified again. In a reversal of the previous pattern, southbound trains (to 95/Dan Ryan) stopped between Lake-Randolph and Randolph-Washington and northbound trains (to Howard) stopped between Randolph-Washington and Washington-Madison. But soon, the wisdom of having two stops was realized and this stopping pattern was re-instituted effective November 18, 1997 at 1000 hours. The north end is again considered a separate station, alternately referred to as "Lake-Washington" and "Lake", but finally simply as Lake. Both northbound and southbound trains now stop between each set of mezzanines, with Randolph-Washington being in the unique position of actually feeding two different stations: Washington to the south and Lake to the north. The Randolph-Washington mezzanine, however, still bears the signage directing people to different ends for north- and southbound trains.

The free transfer to the elevated at State/Lake is now provided at the new Lake station from Lake-Randolph, with Washington only providing a free transfer to the Washington/Dearborn subway station through a mezzanine walkway and a platform-level tunnel, as it always did.

For additional information and photos of the Lake station and Lake-Randolph mezzanine, click here.

Later Developments

At a press conference on Monday, June 5, 2000, CTA President Frank Kruesi announced that beginning Saturday, June 10th and Sunday, June 11th, six downtown area 'L' and subway stations and seven station entrances that were currently closed late at night or on weekends would be open at all hours that trains are in service. One of the seven secondary station entrances was was a Part-Time Entrance -- closed nights and weekends -- was the Washington-Madison entrance to Washington station. Starting at 0600 hours Saturday, June 10th, Washington-Madison entrance returned to 24-hour operation. Opening these stations and entrances is just one of the components of a $539,000 service improvement package that was passed by the Chicago Transit Board in May 2000.

The glass panels in the illuminated signs over their stair/escalator bank to the Washington-Madison mezzanine were still the originals as of December 2001, and while this is might have been great for aesthetics and historic preservation, it did create somewhat of a logistical problem: because the sign plates were glass, they were easily shattered by vandals. So, the CTA desired to replace these glass panels with Plexiglas or plastic ones that would not be as easily broken and that would not pose a safety hazard if they were. But, in their infinite wisdom and creativity, the signage designers decided to mimic the lettering and style of the original signs as much as possible. They found a font that was almost exactly the same as the original typeface, and created street exit signs for the stair/escalator banks to the Washington-Madison mezzanine, as well as for Madison-Monroe and Monroe-Adams (which also had their originals), using the original layouts and wordings. (The original "Escalator" signs remained, as they are high enough that it is unlikely they will be broken.) The only concession they made was to make the background black, rather than blue, red, green, or brown like the originals, to match the current signage scheme. These were installed in early January 2002.

As mentioned previously, neither the Lake-Randolph nor Washington-Madison mezzanines were included in the 1996 renovation program (with the former no longer even part of Washington station), nor was the Washington section of the continuous platform. The platform was scheduled to be remodeled, however, with an April, 1999 completion date and a price tag of $15 million. This did not come to pass on-schedule, but it still planned by the Chicago Department of Transportation (who actually owns the subways and leases their operation to the CTA ). According to the City's 2002-05 capital budget, a station platform renovation between Randolph and Madison is planned to be initiated in November 2001, with a completion date exactly two years later at as cost of $21 million. A revised version of the City's budget plan still has completion scheduled for November 2003, but extending all the way north to Lake at a cost of $29,200,000. Plans have been drawn up by CDOT, and include new flooring, dramatically revamped lighting and signage schemes, new platform furniture and fixtures, and new outer wall coverings. This work was planned to begin in 2004, but then the CTA announced its plan for a new station under the adjacent Block 37 property and a new subway tunnel connecting the Red and Blue lines. This new subway tunnel would connect to the State Street Subway right in the middle of Washington station's platform, effectively cutting the continuous platform in two and requiring the station to be re-sited. As such, CDOT reprogrammed the money and renovation project one stop north to Lake, where renovation work began in Summer 2004.

On June 6, 2005, the CTA launched a pilot program at eight rail stations (as well as on 10 of its wide-door Nova buses) to help speed boarding for customers by dedicating one turnstile as an express fare payment lane (called a "Go Lane") for those paying with either Chicago Card (regular or Plus) smartcard fare media. The dedicated lanes are identified by signs over the turnstile and on the floor in front of it. The eight selected rail stations in addition to the Randolph-Washington mezzanine of Washington/State were Howard, Chicago, 79th and 95th/Dan Ryan on the Red Line; Jefferson Park on the Blue Line; and both the Thompson Center and 203 N. LaSalle entrances to Clark/Lake, and the Randolph-Washington mezzanine of Washington/Dearborn downtown. CTA chose these stations because they are geographically balanced and serve a high volume of customers who transfer between bus and rail.

The pilot was conducted to determine if providing a dedicated turnstile at stations would help to speed boarding and, therefore, speed service. The pilot also provided an additional incentive for customers to switch to Chicago Card fare options. The faster and easier the boarding process, the more the transit experience is improved for existing customers. Faster boarding also helps to attract new customers.

CTA monitored the Go Lane boarding times during morning and evening rush periods to measure time saved during boarding, as well as the ratio of customers using electronic fare media compared to cash or transit cards. Customer reaction and ease of use were also evaluated as part of the pilot to determine whether use of Go Lanes should expand.


Changes, Closure for Block 37 Construction

The upper-level transfer tunnel -- now part of the downtown Pedway system -- dates to the opening of the State Street Subway in 1943. The wall tile in this November 14, 2005 view is original, but the flooring and stainless steel light trays are from a later remodeling. The tunnel closed temporarily two days after this photo for reconstruction as part of Block 37. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

On Wednesday, November 16, 2005, the upper-level transfer tunnel between the Randolph-Washington mezzanines on the State Street Subway (Red Line) and Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway (Blue Line) closed for the construction of the Block 37 development on the land above it. The tunnel, which was a short but heavily-used section of downtown Chicago's underground pedestrian tunnel (aka 'the Pedway'), needed to be closed because excavation for the Block 37 development's foundation and lower levels required its demolition.

The Block 37 development was planned to feature a mix of uses including shops, restaurants, offices, a hotel and a residential tower. In addition, the project was to include a new subway tunnel running diagonally across the site on a northwest-southeast angle, connecting the Red and Blue line subways, and a basement-level station that was planned to ultimately serve a CTA airport express train service to O'Hare and Midway airports. When the Block 37 development was completed, the Pedway tunnel was to be integrated into the lower level of the building. The old straight, narrow, low-ceiling tunnel would be replaced by a wider, more open walkway with retail stores and an entrance to the Block 37 CTA station. However, in 2008, the CTA Airport Express "superstation" was mothballed due to cost overruns, lack of capital funds to make the other infrastructure improvements needed to make an airport express service feasible, and limited interest from private operators to run the express service, as was desired by the CTA.

The construction of the Block 37 development, and specifically the subway tunnel beneath it, affected Washington station again when, in Fall 2006, construction had progressed to the point where preparations had to be made to make the connections to the existing subway tunnel. The Block 37 tunnel construction required the temporary closure of Washington/State station. At midnight on Monday, October 23, 2006, CTA discontinued making station stops at the Washington portion of the continuous platform, leaving only the Lake, Monroe, and Jackson stops. The Washington-Madison mezzanine closed and the portion of the continuous platform between Randolph-Washington and Washington-Madison was barricaded. The Randolph-Washington mezzanine remained open, however, continuing to feed the south end of the Lake station. The lower-level transfer tunnel connecting the Washington Red and Blue line subway stations was also closed effective the same date, leaving the transfer tunnel at Jackson for free connection between the Red and Blue lines.

The new Pedway under Block 37 opened after rush hour on Friday evening, November 20, 2009. At the time, the developer was still putting finishing touches on the mall and none of the Pedway-level stores were open. However, some of the stores opened shortly after, along with the connection to the street-level arcade of stores. The new Pedway, rather than being its own tunnel, was fully integrated into the lower level of the Block 37 mall, with the middle of the Pedway being an atrium open to the floors above and allowing natural light into the walkway.

The northwest stairway to the closed Washington-Madison mezzanine is seen on June 15, 2010 after being converted into a planter to beautify the unused entrance. A decorated escalator kiosk is visible in the background. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

While the Block 37 station was under construction, the continuous platform in the middle of the former Washington station stop was excavated, with a trench cut through the platform between the transfer tunnel stairs for a future track connection from the southbound subway track (Track A) into the Block 37 station. The ceiling vault over the platform was also removed and the transfer tunnel stairs reconfigured to move the south stair further south on the platform (closer to the Washington-Madison mezzanine) so that it would clear the future turnout into the Block 37 station. The transfer tunnel stairs were also widened to nearly fill the width between the rows of columns along edges of the platforms.

After the Block 37 'superstation' was mothballed, work at the Washington station was halted. In late 2009 and early 2010, work was performed to restore the gap in the continuous platform and improve the platform area sufficiently so that passengers could traverse it should it be necessary, such as during a train evacuation. It was not, however, restored sufficiently for trains to resume stopping there, nor was the Washington-Madison mezzanine improved to allow it to reopen for revenue service. The missing section of platform was rebuilt and a plain concrete floor laid. The ceiling was put back and painted white, and lighting installed. The new stairways to the lower transfer tunnel were surrounded in plywood enclosures to prevent passenger access. At 10:45am, Wednesday, February 10, 2010, the continuous platform at Washington, between the Madison-Monroe and Randolph-Washington mezzanines, was reopened, with the plywood barricades that had blocked access since 2006 removed. Trains continued bypassing the former station stop and the Washington-Madison mezzanine and the lower-level transfer tunnel to the Blue Line remained closed.

During late spring 2010, the street-level entrances on State Street to the Washington-Madison mezzanine were decorated and covered to improve their appearance. Litter was blowing down the stairs and piling up at the blocked entrance kiosks, so the CTA worked with the Chicago Loop Alliance on a beautification plan to improve the entrances' appearance. The escalator enclosures were covered with graphics to hide the view of the disused escalators within. The stairways were covered with planters, essentially making the stair enclosure a planter enclosure.

The CTA does not consider the Washington/State station officially permanently closed, but the agency says there are currently no plans to reopen it1.

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A 6000 stops at Washington/State in 1974. (Photo by Leon Kay)

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On a fantrip, 2241 leads a chartered train (note the "Not in Service" roll sign and the white-white marker reading) at Washington/State on July 4, 1971. Note the sign on the tunnel wall indicating the location of the train stop; berthing locations used to be a bit more staggered down the platform than they are today. (Photo by Joe Testagrose)

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Until the 1990s, the Washington platform has stopping berths staggered for the different directions of travel. The berth for southbound Jackson Park-Englewood trains, seen here looking north in July 1992, was between the Randolph-Washington and Washington-Madison mezzanines. The CTA Information monitor overhead was a shirt-lived amenity that provided info such as the time, date, weather, and travel updates, but they proved to be maintenance-prone. Note the blue stripes on the columns: they do not represent the Blue Line, as such stripes would in the late-1990s and early-2000s, but rather Washington's signature accent color, a feature dating back to the original design of the 1940s subway stations. (Photo by Tony Nowikowski)

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As part of the Skidmore Owings & Merrill-designed State Street pedestrian mall, built in 1979, the subway entrances all received simple, modern kiosk enclosures, with rounded black corners, glass walls, and colored caps with the CTA's simple rapid transit train icon. This Washington entrance, already well weathered by this July 1992 view, indicates access not only to the North-South Route of the State Street Subway but also to the Dearborn Subway by way of the transfer tunnel. (Photo by Tony Nowikowski)

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In 1996, the renovation of State Street was complete, dismantling the pedestrian mall that had been created in 1979. The street was reopened to traffic and the streetscape was remodeled with reproductions of the original streetlights and other hardware designed to match the early period. This included attractive new subway entrances like these along the street. Of course, the State Street Subway never actually had old-fashioned entrances like these, being that it wasn't built until the 1940s. (Photo from the Proposed 1999 CTA Annual Budget)

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Washington station sign, from before the Howard was repaired with the Dan Ryan Line. (Sign from the collection of Graham Garfield)

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A new backlit sign for the Washington-Madison mezzanine uses old-style Futura-like lettering to harken back to the original 1940s subway graphics. However, its presence below an original sign plate belays the differences between the new facsimile and the real article. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The State and Dearborn subways, begun at the same time and only a block apart downtown, were designed to have free transfers between them at two stations via low-level tunnels. Here, passengers are using the transfer tunnel at Washington to go from one subway to the other. It is not uncommon to see customers with suitcases (as the Blue Line services O'Hare Airport), especially at Washington (the first of the two transfer stations after O'Hare). (Photo by Paul McAleer)

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On the east side of the Randolph-Washington mezzanine is the entrance is Marshall Field's and the Pedway. Originally, this was a direct entrance to Field's only, similar to other department stores' direct entrances from the subway. Later, the Pedway was extended through here and connected in east of Field's, which already had basement-level corridors. The entrance is seen here on December 18, 2003. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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On the west side of the Randolph-Washington mezzanine is the entrance to the upper-level transfer tunnel between the Randolph-Washington mezzanines on the Red and Blue line subways, also part of the downtown Pedway system. This November 14, 2005 view looking west shows where the 1996-97 mezzanine remodeling ended and where the original 1943 tiling in the tunnel began. (Photo by Graham Garfield)



1. "Planters cause, solve transportation woes." Getting Around, Chicago Tribune, 5 September 2010.