New station at Wilson confirmed; here's what it might include

New station at Wilson confirmed; here's what it might include
Aug. 26: New station at Wilson confirmed; here's what it might include.The 1920s Gerber building will be restored as part of the Wilson station job. (CTA Tattler photo by Patrick Barry)

The CTA last week confirmed the basic details of a new express-transfer station at Wilson on the Red Line. It’s in the design stage now, with construction to begin in 2013.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel tipped the project at an August 14 press conference celebrating recent ridership gains, promising that the station would be “spectacular.” CTA spokesperson Catherine Hosinski filled in a few details, confirming the two-platform design – to allow transfers between Red and Purple Express trains – and the planned rehab of the historic Gerber building with its elaborate terra cotta exterior.

Hosinski couldn’t offer more details, “since designs have not been finalized,” but a close look at the station site and at previously published materials allows some educated guesses, including:

  • First-phase construction in between the two current southbound tracks, where the CTA carpenters shop and vacant Wilson Broadway Mall are now.
  • Wide platforms like those at Fullerton and Belmont.
  • A south entrance/exit at Sunnyside, to serve the Target and Aldi stores and adjacent Truman College.
  • The estimated budget is $200 million.

It’s all possible – without acquisition of adjacent properties – because of the site’s unique layout, a legacy of the site’s former two-level train yard.  See the custom Google map and get more details in the full story at CTA Station Watch. See more photos at the Facebook page.

View Wilson CTA station site in a larger map


Leave a comment
  • I also assume/hope that they will clean up the strange track pattern there, including the dead end tracks into the nonexistent shops, and apparent forced crossover south of the station.

    For that matter, the views from both the L and Broadway looked a heck of a lot better after that fire.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, it's a good bet that all that old trackwork will be removed as part of the job. CTA President Forrest Claypool said August 14 that the project will include “a significant portion of new signal and track on either side of the station,” which suggests all new structure roughly from Montrose on the south to the curve over Broadway towards the Lawrence station.

  • Tear that ugly, terra cotta mess down & replace it with a nice modern station that won't cost a fortune, unlike rehabbing that architectural atrocity!
    A totally new station will cost lots less & function far better.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I have to disagree with you. The terra cotta is beautiful if they take the effort to clean it up. But that's architecture for ya...

    The original building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but I understand that through numerous rehabs, there is not much left of his design anymore.

    They do need to get rid of those terrible "shops" within the station building though. They have enough real estate there to actually put in a decent size store if anyone wanted it. Time will tell.

  • In reply to chris:

    I'm a fan of the terra cotta as well. And Chris is right that the original building on that site was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but it only lasted 13 years; it was torn down to make way for the current building designed by Arthur Gerber, who worked for electric railway magnate Samuel Insull. The full history and a few photos at

  • In reply to Patrick Barry:

    I guess that's why they call it the Gerber building.

    I tend to agree that cleaned up terra cotta fits better in that neighborhood than a stainless steel frame with etched windows. Clicking sufficiently through Patrick's site indicates a proposal for a "French Market" as a possible use.

  • In reply to Patrick Barry:

    Im with Scooter on this one. If there were more of the original Wright-designed Terra Cotta structure in place, then I could see preserving it, but that structure is a turd now. Sell the terra cotta to someone and put up a modern structure thats functional. The replacement of that old tired facade would do wonders for that area, which is badly in need of something modern to exorcize the mess thats there now.

  • In reply to boofoochoochoo:

    It's a mess because it's dirty and the criminal element near the station, not because of the terra cotta. It would look even nicer if they put the clock back.

  • The new stations all across the Red Line are great. It's too bad the new trains suck. Anyone who has taken the CTA more than a few times knows that the side seating seats are horrible and you do everything you can to avoid them. So what does the CTA do? Well of course. They retrofit most of their lines with cars that have... side seating seats.,0,7845795.column

    Obviously the company that makes these doesn't have employees who actually USE public transportation, otherwise they would never have designed these ridiculous cars. Of course that doesn't mean we have to follow this company off a cliff and actually BUY these cars!

    You know, Charles Yerkes, one of the biggest crooks this city has ever harbored, was asked over a hundred years ago why he doesn't make his cars more comfortable and his response was that the "strap-hangers" make my profits. Guess Emanuel and Claypool are devotees of Charles Yerkes... :-(

  • In reply to Don Gordon:

    Bombardier is willing to put whatever seats are ordered. If you go back a couple of years into Huberman's board presentations, there were proposals to at least put in 21st century furnishings,although still longitudinal seating, at no or little extra cost. Somehow, once Huberman left, that was killed, and CTA stuck with 1970s style bus seats, which they won't even put into a bus.

    CTA will CYA and say that they will retrofit the outside destination signs on the basis that "ones showing purple were not then around." That probably is false, but the high definition ones they are now installing (supposedly at no extra cost) probably weren't, so I went along with that. On the other hand, no one at 569 W. Lake is going to admit that they made a mistake with regard to the seating layout. Heaven knows, Kevin tried to make an argument (a solution with which I did not agree), and if Hilkevitch and he can't get anywhere, no one else is going to.

    Of course, as Insull found out after Yerkes, there is no profit in running the L. Couldn't even pay the power bill to his Comm. Ed. The real issue is that Emanuel has figured out that there are no votes lost teeing off CTA riders with this, the Red Line shutdown, or cancelling certain bus routes.

  • In reply to jack:

    If Hilkevitch got his column put on the front page of the Trib, then you know that the Trib will soon take an editorial stand against these awful seats. It means that some high ranking Trib execs went slumming on the L!
    But the worst part of this insane seating setup is that there will actually be less capacity per car than in older cars.
    That's because with so many two per sections taken up by one person, there will be way more standees than the area will allow. In addition, no one is going to put their packages/backpacks under the seats. This isn't an airplane where everyone is going to the same place, all that will happen is your package/backpack will either slide to somewhere else or get stolen. So the packages/backpacks will be placed on the floor in front.

    Unfortunately, this wretched seating mess won't change until Forrest Gump is gone & the 5000s are put into service on the Red Line where the huge crowds will end up stuck on the platforms, unable to got on a train.
    Unless of course Gump decides to import & hire pushers from the Tokyo subway system!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Was it on the front page of the paper one or the Transportation section? His column is always on the front page of the web site under the members restricted area, although it is not restricted. Every Monday.

    The bigger bombshell that had some effect, was the proposed sweetheart deal with Bombardier to rebuild the 3200s. No proof that he has convinced CTA brass yet that the Red Line shuttle plan won't work.

    And can you really tell me any Tribune editorial that has any effect? If they worked, Claypool would now be county assessor, not the figurehead at the top of the CTA. Mikey and Tom would be out of office.

    At least I give Hilkevitch credit for showing independence in the Claypool era.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jack:

    Yes, Jack. It's on the front page of the printed Tribs, at least in the ones in the news stands downtown. I can't access the online version without joining Tribune Digital, which I will not do.

    I will give the CTA credit for one thing. Last Friday when I rode the detoured 84 to catch the 147 at Bryn Mawr and Sheridan, there was no sign at the 84 stop there to announce that the stop was not being served. I walked over and told the several people waiting there to go to Broadway to catch the westboud 84, then called the CTA and told them put a sign there. When I came home there was a sign.

  • In reply to Robert Eltzholtz:

    As far as the online one, as I noted before, you don't have to register to be able to click. Try it. While I was registered to use their comment boards, I have not entered my registration information since they went to Facebook comments.

    I guess it must have otherwise been a slow news day. The S-T got the Blago love letter.

  • In reply to Robert Eltzholtz:

    I have to add that it seems only to work in Firefox, not Chrome.Maybe I have a lingering cookie there, but it still recognizes me without putting up the username I used on the comment board.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    It appears from Tuesday's Tribune that someone gave Claypool an answer real quick to give Hilkevitch to print. Someone on characterized it (properly) as "CTA, Claypool to riders complaining about 5000s seating: Drop Dead."

    So, I guess that ends that.

  • In reply to jack:

    That answer from Gump that it's a structural impossibility is total bullshit.
    The seats in the 5000s are attached to the outer floor & wall of the cars.
    There are already buses that the CTA owns that have seats attached only at the wall.
    Now the L cars have to have floors that can hold a certain number of pounds per square foot or even per square inch.
    1. There are going to be really heavy people standing all over the cars. If a 350 pound person is standing with their feet together, they are putting a weight of 350 lbs. per sq. foot. If it's a woman with even a small stacked heel, that weight is even more concentrated.
    2. Even a normal weight woman <150lbs if wearing spike heels will concentrate even more weight per sq. inch.
    3. Powered wheelchairs weigh hundreds of pounds! Often their users also weigh almost as much. In some cases, the combined weight of the chair with the person will be half a ton!
    That means that a 4 wheel chair will be putting somewhere around 200 lbs per sq. inch.

    All that's necessary is to have the main attachment point at the outer structural member of the car, with a secondary support at the aisle. That support can be several inches square to spread out the weight & made of aluminum to keep the weight down. There's no need to bolt it to the car floor, if as Gump claims, there's no attachment point, it can be glued.
    There are many airplanes flying today with glued structural members & they're perfectly safe. Airplanes even get temporary repairs with special tapes that look a bit like duct tape, but are far more adhesive & far, far stronger.

    It would have been nice if Hilkevitch told them he wants to see the underside of the car bodies!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    You will note that I started my comment with, in effect, "someone told Claypool to tell Hilkevitch ...." Nobody has demonstrated that Claypool has the engineering background to say any of it. However, he has enough of a PR and political background to say "give me something to put out the fire on the front page of the Tribune."

    So, regardless of any engineering merit, this story is OVUH (as Hawk says), notwithstanding your opinion that the next step was going to be the editorial page.

    Also, Hilkevitch posted a video of his tour of the Bombardier plant a couple of months ago, so if he wanted to see it, it could have then.

  • In reply to Don Gordon:

    "Anyone who has taken the CTA more than a few times knows that the side seating seats are horrible and you do everything you can to avoid them."

    I have ridden the L thousands of times and I couldn't disagree with you more. I avoid the front/back facing seats like the plague... the only time I ever sit on my rides is if the side facing seats are open. Easier to get in/out, can put my bag between my legs or on my lap without feeling cramp, more legroom when the train is empty and I never have to be crushed against the window or hang out into the aisle because some fatass plopped down next to me.

    HUGE fan of the new seating arrangement, its about time.

  • Like terra cotta. Should preserve pieces of yesteryear in the Uptown neighborhood, though not if excessively impractical.

    Have always been intrigued by remnants of old tracks.

    Do my eyes deceive me or is there a structure in that area with a green roof, plants in a pattern? It seems hardy and self-maintaining.

    Have some comments about the seating issue, but will save them for when the subject gets its own thread.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Yes, CCWriter, there's a green roof on the CTA substation just north of Montrose and west of the tracks. It's been there five years at least and does indeed have a pattern of red and green plants. It took a beating in the drought this year but maybe the recent rain will bring it back. I've added a marker for it on the Google map. Thanks for the prompt.,-87.656586&spn=0.005489,0.006164

  • In reply to Patrick Barry:

    That Aldi also has a green roof.

  • I'm in the save the terra cotta camp, unless it's too expensive/too far gone.

    Frank Lloyd Wright is a vastly over-rated architect.

  • Well, this will be cool. I remember suggesting a revamped corridor that included a Wilson exp station while I was an intern there. This will 1) make the purple line more useful north of Belmont (I've rarely seen full SRO loads heading north) and 2)alleviate red line crowding for customers who will now change at Wilson to ride the appropriate train to their destination. The question is if they're going to add service to the Purple to encourage use at Wilson. I don't know of many people who will let two Red line trains go by to wait for a Purple.

  • In reply to ibright05:

    I have at Howard, and have transferred at Belmont to a Purple to Howard but certainly Wilson puts that to the test. The real question will be whether the slow zones will be fixed sufficiently that the Purple will be faster than the Red stopping every three blocks.

    It also depends on red signals at the switches. For instance, I have been on a Purple that passed three Reds, but then the Purple was stopped at the approach south of Howard, and the Reds caught up.

    I agree that if one gets on a Purple in the Loop, it pretty well clears out at Belmont (or at least you can get a seat there).

  • In reply to jack:

    I don't understand why the Purple trains are still stopping at Wellington, Diversey, Armitage & Sedgwick.
    Those stops were added due to a lack of capacity on Ravenswood trains before the Brown Line project extended all the platforms to 8 cars.
    They don't need them to stop there anymore!
    Why not add Sheridan to the stops, it already has two island platforms that handle all four tracks?

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I suppose someone will have to do a passenger count to see if adding 8 car trans but decreasing frequency on the Brown Line affected passengers boarding the Purple Line, especially those getting on on Wells.

    But, in any event, so long as the Purple stays on the Brown tracks south of Belmont, it can't fly over the stopped Brown trains, so you are going to sit, regardless of whether there is a scheduled stop, unless someone at CTA is competent enough to figure out how to use all the switches added before the 3 Track Project to switch the Purple onto and off the Red Line tracks both north of Belmont and south of Fullerton.

    Now, if they did what some propose, and switch the Purple over to Red north of Belmont, and run it into the State subway, that would be a different matter.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I should add after the "competent" sentence: without fouling the Red Line schedule.

  • In reply to jack:

    What is the purpose of the purple line going forward? Is it a utility player to relive crowding on the bigger lines or is it a "high speed" express line getting far out residents into town? The answer will determine how the purple line will continue to operate. Having the Purple routed into the subway will reduce the number of red lines needed (and act as a equalizer between north and south red) if it is turned at Roosevelt. Adding an additional train or two an hour to the brown line would be easily paid for if you can save a red or two with the purple line routing.

  • In reply to ibright05:

    Going forward is the operative term. If they are going to put in all the transfer stations (at least Wilson), and not consolidate the stations they are rebuilding now, it should be used to take some of the pressure off the Red Line. I harken back to the article cited in the Tattler in March that currently the North Red has twice the ridership of the Dan Ryan, and thus someone should be thinking about short turning trains at Roosevelt.

    At one time, the expresses stopped at Loyola, and I guess the present stewing is whether they have to build a double platform there, as indicated by some RPM plans, or could switch the trains as before. My "fouling the schedule" remark indicates that a double platform is the probable course.

    Of course, there is also the task of getting people into the city from the Evanston branch, and it is hard for me to conceive dumping all those passengers on the Howard platform, and also hard to conceive how they would tolerate more stops on the north end while having to trail stopping Brown Line trains south of Belmont. Of course, if CTA wanted to expand train length, it would have to expand the platforms in Evanston from 6 to 8 cars.

    The other thing I'll throw out there is that the repeated statements that CTA will put 5000s on the Purple Line make no sense if they are going to sit in the yards except during rush hour, while obsolete equipment runs 24/7 on the Blue Line. Whether CTA has thought enough ahead that this justifies expanding Purple Line service is purely a guess, though.

    Finally, one can bet that they aren't going to implement any service change until they prove that the rebuilt Dan Ryan segment actually operates properly.

  • In reply to jack:

    Okay, I've heard that the 5000s can only operate in 4 or 8 car consists so they can't run on the purple line during peak because the platforms aren't long enough. However, they can run off peak and on the yellow line. But why even run these cars on lines that rarely, if ever approach crush loads? And as a blue line rider, I'm especially annoyed because we're stuck with the 2200s til who knows when. We're probably the last ones to get them (surprise, surprise) because its the only line that doesn't share tracks with the rest of the system and getting them to the blue line is going to be a mess and a half (via Angel's Flight to the Pink Line).

    In regards to Evanston residents, they won't notice much of a difference of making an extra stop or two because service is so slow now. Even with a Wilson and possibly Loyola (if it happens), it will be faster if the tracks are brought up to par.

    I doubt any of this will happen before Red South is done.

  • In reply to ibright05:

    According to the lookouts on, what the 5000s couldn't do is run in 4 car trains, because of whatever the problem was at Tower 18 with regard to losing the connection with the third rail. They were running in 6 car trains from when the 5000s were reinstated, although those folks say that the Pink Line is now down to 4. Someone who used to work at CTA was getting on our backs that we didn't know what the problem was, but he wouldn't say.

    So, basically you had that story backwards.

    We agree on the "no sense on the Purple and Yellow" and "not until the Dan Ryan" points.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Sheridan might work on a temporary basis, but once Wilson is rebuilt it would be pointless to have express trains stopping at adjacent stops. That would defeat the purpose of "express"

    Personally, I wish CTA had retained the 4-track layout south of Armitage station/Willow portal, and rebuilt Sedgwick and Chicago (the latter if possible from an engineering perspective) as island platforms between the inner two tracks, to solely serve the Brown Line and allow Purple Line trains to bypass on the outer tracks.

  • In reply to jack:

    Personally, I have let one red go by at Belmont if I saw a purple coming within the next three minutes. It was always a mixed bag because sometimes the follower red would catch up at the Howard switches.

    I believe I read in another article that the North Main slow zone repairs will start this winter?

  • In reply to ibright05:

    I suppose Train Tracker screens will help the decision process going forward.

Leave a comment