Watch CBS News

Wilson CTA Station's Reconstruction Plans "Bring It Back To Life"

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago's Uptown neighborhood is being reborn, and a vivid example is the $203 million reconstruction of the Wilson 'L' station, with a nod to the area's history.

The work is better than 75 percent, complete. A CTA spokesman said the project is on schedule and on budget. Portions of the old 'L' structure and repair shop leads are being torched away to allow installation of the new northbound express track. WBBM's Bob Roberts reports.

In the midst of the work on the 'L' structures, new and old, scaffolding holds in place the bare walls of the 1923 Beaux Arts-design Uptown Station building, originally designed with a waiting room for riders bound for destinations as far away as Milwaukee at a time when CTA historic architect Marlise Fratinardo said, "Uptown was it."

CTA Uptown Vintage
This vintage photograph shows the CTA's Uptown/Wilson station in the early 1900s. (courtesy: CTA)

As late as 1949, trains originated and terminated at Wilson, but reroutings made Wilson just another 'L' stop. The North Shore Line's trains to Milwaukee, Mundelein and Waukegan stopped running in 1963 and CTA began to subdivide the space for stores over and again as the building fell into disrepair. The CTA's Jeff Tolman said heat, electrical and water serve became unreliable.

Now, Fratinardo is charged with bringing the 94-year-old station building into the 21st century.

"A large part of what we're doing under this project is upgrading the systems so it can be adapted for reuse and really bring it back to life to serve the community," she said.

The new structure is slightly to the west of the old routing. Fratinardo said it will allow the rebuild terra cotta facade to "peek out" and be seen much more readily. The rebuilt station house will have an auxiliary entrance to the 'L' in its southwest corner, but otherwise will be rented out as commercial space.

Right now it is the largest available commercial space CTA has at an 'L' station, and it is looking for tenants. Reconstruction is expected to be completed by December.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.