Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stop the Presses! Wilson L Station Get Federal Funding for Rehab!

We have heard promises before, but this sounds like the real deal. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Wilson L station is receiving $6 million for rehabilitation and modernization. The story says the Senator Dick Durbin announced that:

A $6 million grant will be used to modernize the Wilson Red Line station in the Uptown neighborhood.

The station, which opened in 1900 and has not received major upgrades in many years, provides rail service and bus connections to more than 55,000 residents. The Wilson station project includes a new elevator and exterior rehabilitation, officials said.

Senator Durbin's press release provides additional detail on the plans for the Wilson station:

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Chicago: $6,000,000 in funding to make accessibility improvements at the Wilson Red Line Station which is served by four bus routes that together they provide direct service to 55,275 people. The project includes a new elevator control room and rail maintenance room, a new elevator inside the main station house at street level, as well as street modifications and exterior rehabilitation. This project was selected on a competitive basis through the 2011 Bus Livability Program.

This is wonderful news for all Uptown residents, but especially those who use the Wilson station on a daily basis, and our disabled neighbors who will be thrilled to hear about the first handicapped-accessible station in Uptown.


  1. 38 million in total federal dolares to the CTA.

    30 million for new buses.

    2 million for a study.

    6 million for Wilson Station.

    Anyone getting the impression Mayor Rahmbo really wants to improve Uptown?

    I imagine that within a matter of months the long awaited announcement of the renovation of the Uptown Theater will be made.

    Do not get in the way of our 9.5 fingered "mare".

    President Obama at the Aragon.

    Stories appearing about the Uptown Theater.

    The Wilson stop getting the only directly train related renovation moola.

    A promise of a Presidential Pardon for me if I play nice and don't scare off any visitors.

    Things are looking Up in Uptown.

  2. Somehow, I'm not thrilled. I mean, it's better than nothing. But it's practically nothing. I'm bummed that the Red Line, which runs 24/7 and hauls more passengers than any other line, is so slighted, while the Blue and it's former Cermak Rd branch now know as the Pink Line, have gotten TWO makeovers and complete accessibility in the past 25 years; the Brown Line has been improved to permit 8 car trains, and the Green was totally rebuilt about 15 years ago.

    Compare the $38M that CTA gets for moving something like 800,000 people a day against the $14 Billion thrown at the legacy air carriers with their massive executive salaries, seems pathetic.

    Hate to tell you, but $6M is a drop in the bucket against what is really needed to make this bizarrely configured station truly accessible and up-to-date. Bringing it up to the standard of the (sorely overdue) new Belmont and Fullerton stations would take much more money than even those two, because it is so weirdly configured that you'd have to completely gut the interior, staircases and all, to accommodate an elevator and escalator.

    I have always liked to visualize this grand old place as it must have looked when it opened. It was surely dazzling. Yes, that's a real brass handrail on the staircase, and the whole station was clad in pale marble. If you look to the right as you enter on Broadway, you see a door, that leads to the CTA employee's restroom. If you enter it, you see a gated doorway, leading to an arcade that was lined with shops. It was closed up in the 60s as the neighborhood, and city, deteriorated and ridership dropped, and the arcade began to be the site of crimes and drug dealing.

    I sincerely hope that $6M can be made to cover both the really serious improvements and rebuild this station needs to be safe and functional, and the cosmetic repairs to restore the appearance of the station, but, having seen what these projects cost, I'm not optimistic.

  3. Wilson L photograph from 1919 - Southwest view of Wilson Avenue and Broadway Avenue. Stohr Arcade at the Wilson "L" stop built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Built in 1909 and razed in 1922. Chicago, IL - photographer unknown.

  4. UU - Please tell me how I can send you the actual photo of the 1919 Wilson L stop Frank Lloyd Wright built... Dawn

  5. Our email address is

  6. WOW! Double wammy of Uptown THeatre and Wilson L good news.

    My question, what about the money that the CTA already allocated a couple years back? Clearly that didn't go for anything, so can we hope for a combined $9 million or so in funding for Wilson?

    Go Uptown!!

  7. Next stop, Sheridan? Such a sad station

  8. 6 million dollars is not "practically nothing". Could more money be used on the project, sure. But come on, do you think Uptown would have gotten a 6 million dollar grant prior to the last election? No way in hell. First, a pretty serious rehab can be done with this money which will certainly put some focus on getting the retail spots ready for tenets. Also I bet you will be kept in the loop of exactly what is going to happen and when by the 46th ward office. That did not used to happen. Where is the money from the Wilson Yard TIF for the Wilson Stop Rehab? Enough said. But two, as others have mentioned this really signals a change in how outsiders are viewing Uptown. Maybe just maybe they find it slightly easier to work with the Alderman and city government running the area. So they are willing to do what they can to push for long term fixes that have been needed since 1979. Just my thoughts but this is nothing but positive news!

  9. This is great news. Perhaps BOTH Sheridan and Lawrence can get some attention as well. Lawrence, with its lack of station house and chain link fence entrance, is a disgrace to the "Entertainment District."

  10. Can we get Target to contribute to the rehab as well in return for naming rights?

  11. This is great news but an elevator gives me pause. I hope it will be enclosed totally in glass. If not this is going to quickly become a urined soaked elevator.

  12. whoo hoo! this is only a good sign...OH, I just want the day to come where I don't have to go to Andersonville - no offense, but you know what I mean....

    @IP - love your profile pic LOL

  13. It would be altogether better to just close the Lawrence el stop permanently, and allocate the money towards a really fine rehab of the Wilson.

    Figure- at Lawrence, you are not quite 2 blocks from the Wilson, and 2 blocks from the Argyle. The Wilson potentially has the capacity to handle immense loads, with its massive center platform, as this station once upon a time handled not only the Evanston and North-South (former name of Red Line) trains, but the North Shore interurban that ran clear to Milwaukee. The station was designed for 4 trains to stop there at once, as you can see from the barricaded passages that lead to now-disused platforms.

    There are so many stops within a couple of blocks of each other on the Red that it scarcely qualifies as rapid transit. While deciding what other stops should be "triaged" to make the line faster and smoother, the Lawrence stop is an easy call, and would discommode almost no one. WE could then rebuild the Wilson, which is the most important stop until you get to Granville or Loyola, and the Argyle, which sits on a retail strip that generates over $50M a year in sales tax revenue.

  14. That's Great! But will it stop the gang bangers from hanging out there and chasing my children home?

  15. On Tuesday October 4th, I saw the lights on in the shuttered CTA building just west of Rokito's (which used to be a Purple Line station if I'm not mistaken). Does anyone know why there would be something going on in there?

    Wouldn't it be fun to find that clock tower that used to be at the main entrance of the Uptown Station somewhere stashed away in some CTA basement? I can dream.