Monday, April 6, 2009

CTA- Our Wilson Station Needs Some Of That $22.5 Million

(click the photo above to see what a difference new lighting would make)

From the Tribune:

"The CTA is set to receive $495.9 million, with $173 million earmarked for new hybrid buses and $87 million for a mid-life overhaul of existing buses. Another $113 million is going for Red Line track replacement, $48 million for Red Line substations, $25.5 million for Brown Line substations; $22.5 million on rail station renovations and $27.5 million on bus garage renovations, officials said."

Dear CTA,
Here are 5 simple ideas that would not cost a fortune, but would make our Wilson L station more welcoming and a lot less scary. We hope you will consider giving the Wilson station a decent portion of the $22.5 million. A lot could be done with the money. Read on for some friendly suggestions. Yours Truly, Uptown Update

1) Paint the long vacant storefront exteriors on Broadway a uniform color. As of now, we have blue, red, and brown here. Cost for paint would be less than $50. Businesses might consider moving into these storefronts (Hello, Jones Lang LaSalle) if they didn't look so shabby from the outside, actually had FOR RENT signs in the windows, and were being actively marketed.

2) Give the station a total scrubdown from top to bottom. Years of rust and gunk have built up and are destroying much of the architectural detail (see below). We know you can do it! We've seen the Howard Street station that has the exact same detail (also designed by Wilson L architect Arthur Gerber) return to its original glory!

3) Force your tenants in the "Wilson Broadway Mall" to remove their blighted signage from the northernmost point of the station. It's an eyesore (below). Their painted plywood signage on Wilson is also in bad shape. A simple awning could be installed to match other businesses on Wilson and the exterior that was painted neon blue (gasp) could be stripped back to its original color.

4) Add the same globe lighting you used at the Howard Street station to the exterior of the Wilson station. The old lighting sockets are still in place around the outside of the building (left). How much would it cost to rewire them and add lights? Lord knows more lighting is needed here and it would GREATLY enhance the exterior's appearance. See main photo above

5) Finally, move the turnstiles from the second floor down to the first floor (like every other Red Line station on the northside). This would cut down on loitering and crime in the lobby of the station and put an extra set of eyes on the street, namely the CTA attendant's.

If our readers like our suggestions for the CTA's use of the $22.5 Million earmarked for station improvements, please let the CTA know. We trust that our Uptown Chamber is contacting the CTA and actively encouraging them to make these changes to our Wilson station. We also hope that Uptown organizations like UCC and UNC will step up and put pressure on the CTA to make these long overdue changes. All Uptown block clubs should voice concern as well.

Contact CTA Customer Service at 1-888-YOUR-CTA or 1-888-968-7282 weekdays from 7:00am to 8:00pm or E-mail them at


  1. While bringing the station into the 20th century (forget about the 21st), let's see what the CTA can do about making it handicapped accessible, too! I'm disabled and have to go from Uptown, by bus, all the way to the Addison Red Line station to get a train, because I can't make it up the stairs at Lawrence or Wilson. Addison has an elevator AND escalators, whereas Wilson and Lawrence have neither. It's incredibly bad planning to have a large population of seniors and disabled folks in Uptown and make the el stations impossible for them to use.

    By the way, UU, I clicked on the top photo of this post and saw the larger version of what the Wilson station would look like with lights. Good for you!

  2. Put a requirement that all tenants are not allowed to have scissor gates on their windows and doors.

    Require that store windows of occupied spaces are to have an unobstructed view so that people can see in and out the windows. This makes the store more inviting and provides another element of safety because those causing problems will know that there are eyes on them.

    There's a protective film that can be placed on the glass that prevents damage from etching and spray paint won't stick to it.

    Install some lighting on the outside of the building to give more light and it will also highlight the beautiful architecture already there.

    Place cameras on the outside of buildings that have high rates of 911 calls.

  3. We need to have "somebody who somebody sent" to advocate for improvements in Uptown's el stations, I guess. If we don't get some advocacy here, other parts of the CTA system will take the money. Afterall, the high tourist areas are "neighborhoods" too. One would think that having the former CTA president living here or having an alderman who is an advocate for the poor would have helped things along. Boo hoo is right. It is deplorable that we have such a high % of disabled and seniors in this area and awful el stations.
    I'm still waiting for that "big announcement" Ron Huberman promised us would be coming last summer.

    Can't there be just one issue on which all of Uptown can agree? It would be great if we could work together to get what we need rather than being passed over once again because "there isn't enough money." Isn't everyone in Uptown sick of hearing that sentence and being forced to wait their turn that never comes?

  4. Very good suggestions, especially about removing some of the garish signage. While I like my city "funkyness", those signs are butt ugly. Why does Popeye's need to shout that they are there. It's right on the corner. A simple awning or one-color sign would help.

  5. Perhaps it's not a coincidence that all the surrounding wards have gotten major L renovations. Ditto with sidewalk repair and sidewalk lighting.

    Has anyone used FOIA to see how Helen uses the ward's menu money? I heard rumors that some of it is paying $ to the WY housing.

  6. Besides Lawrence and Wilson, Argyle's train stop is DISGUSTING.... it smells of urine in the best of times and you can the steel bars that hold it because the concrete is literally falling off of it. I hate walking underneath it because shady characters appreciate that there are very few lights underneath it and there are about 15 empty newspaper boxes (being use for god knows what purposes possible drug shuffling?) underneath it as well.

  7. I'm so afraid to use this el stop because of overall security and cleanliness. Plus I have a baby so carrying a stroller up those stairs by myself is a big task. The station is a shame and probably one of the worst in the city. I really hope we can see some improvements with that $22.5million!! Pretty PLEASE CTA!!!!

  8. Great ideas, but they're too late. This money is probably already spent.

    I know the Belmont, Fullerton, and Howard stations were all partially funded with Federal money in order to bring these stations into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Addison was already compliant as was 35th, but they both have well known ballparks with huge numbers of potential complaints.

    I guess the formula is strength in numbers. You need a lot of riders to complain about the lack of compliance in order to obtain it.

    Here is how WLS-TV described the opening of the Howard stop.

    The overall renovation project included rehabbing the stationhouse and platform areas, plus installing elevators and escalators to meet the standards of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

    I suppose if some concerned local resident with an interest in leadership today with plans to apply for potential leadership opportunities that may open up, oh some time around February 2011, is staring at a golden opportunity.

    Beware of Machine pot holes. They're all around the Wilson stop.

  9. Besides the road money, Chicago area mass transit is slated to receive $900 million from the state.

    From where did this money come?

    Isn't the State running a budget deficit?

  10. Why would they want to fix up the L Station? That would create..whats the word I am looking for...oh, PRIDE. Why would the city want the locals to feel any pride what so ever for the community? Do you think Helen amassed all her voting base here for community pride?

    If we had a nice L Stop then some of Helen and Richards Nanny Staters might feel guilty about trashing it. They might actually think twice or even feel bad about Littering, Pissing, Loitering, Harassing, Drug Using, Drug Dealing, Drinking, Cussing, & Painting Graffiti.

  11. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that the Wilson stop is obligated to accommodate people with disabilities. How has this stop been able to get away without an elevator or escalator for so long?

    Maybe we can help this effort along? Here's the web site for Americans with Disabilities Act:

  12. Oh come on, just be happy you have an el stop. There is nothing wrong with it. Starving people in Africa don't even have an el. No big deal, the money can be spent on more SRO's in Uptown. That is what we really need!

  13. What would a petition look like and how many signatures do you think we'd need to make it stand out?

  14. It doesn't matter how many signatures you have, you have clout! Give it up!!! ;-)

  15. Let's remove the signs for Wilson Mall. Better yet, let's remove the Wilson Mall, that place is horrific.

  16. Now why would Hellen or the Mayor want to see the Uptown El Stations improved? They want Uptown to be the haven for the drug sellers, gang members, homeless, etc. If they all come here then the other wards wont have to deal with them. How is it that our alderman has not been put under investigation for corruption? She is one of the biggest reasons Uptown went from being the premier upscale community in Chicago to being a crime, gang, homeless, drug selling blight in Chicago. She fights positive change in our community at every turn. I don't think we will see the Wilson, Lawrence, or Argyle stops rehabbed until she is ousted from office!

  17. She is one of the biggest reasons Uptown went from being the premier upscale community in Chicago to being a crime, gang, homeless, drug selling blight in Chicago.

    I understand your frustration, hopeless, but things didn't happen here quite like that. Helen arrived long after Uptown had slid into decline. She met "Slim" Coleman when she was up in Racine, Wisconsin trying to organize poor whites. He encouraged her to come on down to Chicago and organize in Uptown after Students for a Democratic Society had splintered/flamed out.

    While it is true that she fought against "urban renewal" (especially the building of Truman College), she also worked to build a health center and fight for higher quality affordable housing for the very poor people who lived in Uptown. It was a different time. All the dynamics were so different. I think even what people thought was possible was different.

    People can judge her as they may, but Uptown's economic decline happened long before Helen Shiller arrived and even longer still before she became Alderman.

    I'll post it later but I heard a fantastic discussion about gentrification on "The Story" on WBEZ. It brought to light a lot of the issues and contradictions that are involved when neighborhoods change from being very, very poor. I was in the car at the time when I was listening and ended up being a few minutes late for a meeting because I didn't want to get out of the car and miss the end! I'll try to post a link later today.

  18. Have to agree with Sassy. Uptown was much worse when I was re-introduced to it in the early-mid 80s when I was a reporter and came up to cover a community meeting led by Slim Coleman. It was pretty dismal here. My first introduction was when one of my friend's father drove us up here to show us "skid row" as a sort of "scared straight" thing. Not saying there isn't definite room for improvement or who's responsible for it, but yeah, it was much worse.

  19. I also agree, but I do blame her for contributing to the mess around here that continues to chase good retail away.

  20. Ald. Shiller may not have created the blight, but she sure as hell hasn't done much to get rid of it.

    When I first moved back to Chicago 25 years ago, Wrigleyville was dicey. Southport was dark and deserted. Andersonville was a little Swedish enclave. Lincoln Square had been a nice neighborhood, but was getting a decidedly shady reputation.

    All those communities are now thriving with major retail, nice homes, mom-n-pops, festivals, and foot traffic. The hole in the donut remains Uptown. You can't tell me it's just coincidence that the communities surrounding Uptown are all destination spots, and Uptown remains the red-haired stepchild of the North Side.

  21. I think there is little doubt Helen has overseen a relatively ineffective "revitalization" of Uptown when one investigates the progress the neighborhoods that surround Uptown have made in the last 20 years.

  22. Helen can see it daily as she almost looks right at it from her office. Maybe she hopes it stays that way to make it look like what the units in Wilson Yard will look soon after they open...........

  23. I would like to see updates at Sheridan. the station is so small and getting janky as well. during the morning/PM rush its tight quarters. i dont know if they could widen it or not but they need more in and out turnstyles. maybe an alternate entrance/exit somehow i donno but it could stand an update.