Eyes on the Street: Checking Out the New Wilson Station House

The new stationhouse is an airy glass box. Photo: John Greenfield
The new stationhouse is an airy glass box. Photo: John Greenfield

Another CTA station became wheelchair-friendly today as the main stationhouse of the new Wilson stop opened, complete with an elevator and escalator. This was the latest milestone of the $203 million station reconstruction project, which is converting the stop into a double-platform facility that will serve as a transfer between the Red and Purple lines.

The airy "front hall" of the stationhouse. Photo: John Greenfield
The “front hall” of the stationhouse. Photo: John Greenfield

The new stationhouse, located on the south side of Wilson, is a light-filled glass box, with plenty of room outside of the turnstiles. The fact that the structure is relatively airy, despite being located under the tracks, is partly thanks to a reduction in the number of track columns at street and sidewalk level, which is also beneficial for traffic safety. The city says the stationhouse opened ahead of schedule.

The new elevator makes bike-and-ride commutes more convenient. Photo: John Greenfield
The new elevator makes bike-and-ride commutes more convenient. Photo: John Greenfield

“Mayor Emanuel and I are pleased to provide ahead of schedule this bright, spacious new entrance to Wilson, which will provide our customers with a more pleasant commuting experience and increased accessibility to the CTA system,” said CTA President Dorval Carter in a statement.

The new up escalator. Customers exiting the station still have to walk down a long flight of stairs. Photo: John Greenfield
The new up escalator. Customers exiting the station still have to walk down a long flight of stairs. Photo: John Greenfield

Currently all trains are using the west platform, and the station accommodates inbound and outbound Red Line service, and inbound Purple Line runs also stop there. The east platform is still under construction, but curving translucent blue canopies have been completed on both platforms.

The canopies are completed, and the future northbound platform is almost finished. Photo: John Greenfield
The canopies are completed, and the future northbound platform is almost finished. Photo: John Greenfield

The new main stationhouse offers elevator and escalator access for the first time, wider station platforms with large, translucent canopies to provide better weather protection and additional turnstiles. Additional station features include real-time Train Tracker arrival time displays, new signage (including Braille) and brighter lighting.

The historic Gerber building is currently being restored. Photo: John Greenfield
The historic Gerber building is currently being restored. Photo: John Greenfield

The rest of the Wilson reconstruction project is slated for completion by the end of the year, including:

  • Completing remaining the new stationhouse and opening the east platform.
  • Opening new station entrances on Sunnyside Avenue and on the north side of Wilson Avenue.
  • Unveiling new station artwork created by Sri Lankan-British artist, designer, and engineer Cecil Balmond.
  • Completing restoration of the historic 94-year-old Gerber building on the north side of Wilson at Broadway, which housed the old stationhouse, including restoring a previously demolished clock tower, and announcing a new tenant for the building.

wide banner copy

  • Chicago60609

    This makes any Orange line station look like it was desinged and built in the old Soviet Union.

  • Carter O’Brien

    Looks great. What a difference from when I last was riding to this stop over the summer of 1990 for Census training!

  • Robert Kania

    I personally don’t like having Purple Line trains stopping there. I like going nonstop between Belmont and Evanston.

  • neroden

    At some point they’ll have to close Belmont for work. This makes that possible without chaos.

  • Chicagoan

    The consistent Purple Line service should be a boon for Uptown.

  • Carter O’Brien

    I can appreciate that from a user perspective for sure. But doesn’t that kind of express service undermine the bigger picture concept of the CTA reducing urban sprawl and promoting denser development close to the city center? Should it really be more convenient to get downtown on the CTA from Skokie and Evanston than it is from Rogers Park, Edgewater, and Uptown?

  • Robert Kania

    That is a very good point. I guess one stop in the middle won’t slow it down that much.

  • Chicagoan

    It’s similar to how Oak Parkers don’t like it each time a stop is added to their branch of the Green Line. Rapid transit service should benefit people who reside by it. I think so, anyway.

  • rwy

    I don’t think I’ve heard that as part of the CTA mission statement. Sure the dense development wouldn’t be possible without the CTA.

    Currently the Edens/Kennedy is faster for North Shore residents, except for the times when congestion is at it’s worst. If the CTA slows things down too much they’ll lose customers to cars.

  • Carter O’Brien

    It’s key messaging in the new urbanism/climate change antidote platform.

    I will say I disagree with folks in that camp regarding the importance of park and ride L stop facilities for suburbanites and really even Chicagoans. People do it anyway, you might as well plan for it.

  • rwy

    All of the lines built by the CTA space stations at least a mile apart and many have multimodal stations. The focus on density must be a recent thing.

    Also Evanston is planning TODs along the purple line. Also many university students don’t own a car.

  • Carter O’Brien

    The city maxed at 3,600,000, density isn’t new here. And lots of stops are much closer than a mile apart- Fullerton, Diversey, Wellington, Belmont, the Loop stops, etc.

    I’m happy with improving transit access for people, period, but we should be focusing on the L deserts on the NW and SW sides before worrying about express service to the burbs. IMHO.

  • rwy

    ” And lots of stops are much closer than a mile apart- Fullerton, Diversey, Wellington, Belmont, the Loop stops, etc.”

    Built by predecessors to the CTA.

    With Uber continually slashing fares, longer CTA rides would drive away suburbanites riders. The express tracks are already there, no need for new investments either.

  • Carter O’Brien

    They didn’t add track for the purple line, they cannibalized the red and brown line tracks. And Uber is not competition for commuters, what’s the price difference of Uber to the Loop from the burbs vs CTA? And what if (or when) Chicago cracks down on it similar to how London is?

    Back to the story, opening up the Purple Line to inner city users in Uptown is completely appropriate and I would argue, long overdue. When Metra starts adding stops every mile in Chicago then we can talk about equity and fairness.

  • rwy

    I was shown an Uber Pool fare of $5:30 to Union Station from Evanston. I think that’s a promotion. There would be cases where 2 people traveling from Evanston to the Northwest side would have a fare similar to the CTA fare, while getting you there much faster.

    The Northwestern built a 4 track mainline so they could have express service. They seem to be used as intended.

    Given the fact that the red line is near capacity, this will likely help. But maybe the North side is too dense?

  • Carter O’Brien

    It is getting denser in some areas and not others, Lincoln Park’s deconversions/McMansion trend is just killing that neighborhood IMO. I was there earlier, it feels like a ghost town compared to when I was a kid. We’ll see what TOD ends up doing there.

  • Allan Marshall

    I noticed the McMansion trend occurring years and years ago(heck, all the way back starting in the 1990s and 2000s), when whenever I visited a school I used to attend(Newberry Academy), I noticed the sad demolition of so many of the homes that used to exist south of Armitage on Burling and Orchard(north to south streets that surround the school on its west and east side).

    Not long ago I revisited that area and biked north on Orchard, and only saw like 1 or 2 of those old homes still standing. Back when I first attended Newberry, those old homes gave those 2 streets a lot of character. I sure worry that NIMBYism will make it hard for TOD developments to take hold near the Brown Line stops within Lincoln Park(i.e. Armitage, Sedgwick), but who knows? Maybe my fear that it doesn’t occur, will be proven wrong.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Eyes on the Street: The New Wilson ‘L’ Station Platform

|
With Monday’s opening of a new, modernized southbound platform, the $203 million Wilson station reconstruction project is now one-third finished. The overhaul, which began in late 2014, is slated for completion by late 2017. There are currently four entrances to the station. The old main, attended entrance on Broadway, as well as the old auxiliary […]