Will the Old Garfield El Station Become a Library?

The oldest El station in Chicago has been decommissioned for a decade, lying under the tracks on a busy strip near Washington Park. But a community group wants it to become a cultural center.

Tracy Swartz of RedEye has news on a promising development around Washington Park: a push to get the old Garfield stationhouse, possibly the oldest in the country, turned into a library. I’m hopeful for it because I used to wait for the bus there every day when I was living in Hyde Park and working in the Medical Center area. If you’ve ever taken the 55 to Hyde Park, it’s the little building tucked under the tracks across the street from the new, elevated station:

 

It’s a run-down corner, but busy, so it could use a development like the one proposed, and one that so happens to be in the 47th and State TIF district. And it’s a link not just to the Columbian Expo, as Swartz points out, but to the earliest days of public transportation in Chicago, when it was a patchwork of private companies. The operators of the South Side Elevated went belly-up shortly after the Exposition.

I had trouble finding good pics of the station when it was operating, but here’s an okay black-and-white:

 

You can get a better sense of the brick detail, only dimly seen in the above picture, in this pic of the old 43rd Street station, also designed by Myron Church. Church designed several stations on the South Side line, who also designed the mansion now housing the North Lakeside Cultural Center.

Speaking of Swartz’s work, you should also check out her piece yesterday on Englewood.

 

Photographs: Google Maps, City of Chicago

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