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Home<Chicago CTA<Red Line<Wilson

Wilson is an extremely complicated Chicago 'L' Station stemming from the fact that it was once the northern terminus of the elevated when it opened in 1900. It was the location of a train yard, including the southernmost point freight trains operated over the North Side Main Line with (an exchange point to the St. Paul Railway) at this station once the line was extended north. In the 1910s the station began being served by both the 'L' and the North Shore Intermodal Line to Milwaukee (that ran on the 'L' tracks) and became overcrowded. In 1923 the large Uptown Station was open that the 'L' still uses today. There are green letters outside that still call the station by this name. The main issue than was that line north of the station became briefly just two tracks before going back to four before the Lawrence Station. This was a major bottleneck and in the 1950s the station area was rebuilt to rectify it. There wasn't enough room on the elevated along the main line at the station to accommodate all four tracks so the Loop-bound express track was rerouted via the former freight train connection through the former rail yard and today Loop-bound purple line trains leave the main line ROW and run on their own concrete ROW about fifteen feet west of the other 3 tracks through the Wilson Station area also at a slightly slower level (Chicago-L.org has a great full history including track maps).

The current configuration of the station opened in the Spring of 1961. The station was not an 'L' Express stop but was a station stop on the Milwaukee Interurban trains until they were discontinued in 1963 so the express tracks were provided their own platforms (with separate fare control areas since the North Shore Line had its own fare system).

The open portion of the station has a single wooden island platform with blue tactile warning strips but old lampposts and wooden signs along the exposed portions. The platform is covered by a canopy except for one car at its southern end and two at its northern end. A single staircase towards its southern end leads down to a mezzanine area with fare control in the large station, before stairs lead down another flight to street level and a single entrance along Broadway slightly north of the the intersection of Wilson Avenue. There is a secondary exit along the southside of Wilson Avenue with two high entrance/exit farecard only turnstiles up to a single staircase. The stop has two other platforms, one is abandoned with the remains of lampposts and wood that looks quite splintered. It is between the Linden-bound tracks (express and local). The Loop-bound track (on its own ROW) also has its own side platform that is less abandoned (and open for charters and on other special occasions) and surrounded by an aluminum canopy and a windscreen over most of its length. A clearly visible covered and walled entrance walkway leads into the middle mezzanine level of the station budling. It is at a lower-level than the main platform.
Photos 1-24 taken on 1 August, 2011, 25-29 on 25 October, 2011

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The abandoned northbound platform
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Looking over to the Loop-bound Express platform on their own ROW
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The concrete overpass of the Loop-bound Express track, the other three tracks are on the usual wooden elevated structure, this shows its legacy as a former freight line
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A Linden-bound Purple Line Express train bypasses the station
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#2857 keeps passing the station
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#2837 is the last car of a Linden-bound Purple Line express train bypassing the station on its abandoned platform
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Looking down a wooden staircase to leave the station
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The three turnstiles inside the mezzanine station area and older cashiers booth
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Down the staircase to street level in the large old station
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The wide staircase up to trains
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The facade outside the large historic Uptown Station
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The station entrance, there is a modern 'L' Wilson sign, and lettering in the glass above the doors
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One of the original entrances at the corner Green Letters say Uptown Station
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Beneath the elevated structure, looking across to the high entrance/exit turnstiles secondary entrance
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Last Updated: 2 October, 2012
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