Thanks to the wonderful Chicago-L.org, I learned of six still-existing abandoned CTA stations, and since I decided to visit every existing CTA station, I decided these are "existing" enough for the project. Plus, these are the intersection of my CTA obsession and abandoned building obsession--although I didn't expect to "explore" the stations (and didn't).
I set out one sunny March afternoon, taking the North bus to Western and stopping to snap a few photos of the threatened (and not especially attractive, but I like having a record so I won't forget what used to be there) buildings near the southeast corner, including this one that had been an Easter Seals building until quite recently. Then I got the Western bus to the Blue Line, Forest Park branch.
I started off with regular station photos of Western, Kedzie, and Pulaski, some of which I had to revisit in future trips to get anything remotely interesting. You have to work a bit harder on this branch of the L to find good shots, but there's some charming signage, and I kind of like the pastel brick station houses. I left the Pulaski station to walk the half-mile to the abandoned Kostner station, passing an area of block club signs, attractive greystones, and syringes underfoot across the street from an elementary school.
The Kostner station has steps and a walkway that allowed me to stand over the expressway and get shots of the not--too--exciting station house, stairs, and platform.
From there, I walked another half-mile to the next open station at Cicero. I somehow got onto Harrison and I believe I saw a stretch of that street I'd never seen before. I definitely want to thoroughly bike the West Side this year--I've done a lot of the South Side in the past couple years (and hope to see all that again, too). Miscellaneous industrial buildings, bars, churches--here's a cross protected by Brinks.
It was quite desolate there, which at least meant no one asked what I was taking pictures of. Signs I like, of course, and cute cats next to empty bottles of motor oil...
I'll have to go back to Cicero to reshoot Belmonte Liquors (which was nowhere near Belmont, needless to say). I got on the train again and got my shots of the Cicero and Austin stations.
From Austin, it was a confusing trek to find the abandoned Central station. I think the best way to approach it in the future would be heading south on Central, past the oft-overlooked Columbus Park, but on this trip I was walking east from Austin, trespassing an industrial area that was already deserted after 4, making my way over train tracks, some of which I was certain weren't in use, others that were (but not until I was out of the area).
There's no real station house left at the Central station, just a lot of platform area, overgrown by plants, surrounded by graffiti. I got very close. So close, in fact, that I could have gone into the station easily if not for the pesky issue of the electrified rail. I do have my limits. I looked around the tracks for a bit, then took the same path back to the Austin station, well-covered in prickly burrs.
I took the train to Kedzie and just barely grabbed a Harrison bus to the last abandoned station of the day, California. The sun was setting by now. The California station is at the top of this post. I noticed another bar walking north, though I'm certain it's long-closed. I got shots of the signs and as I walked away, a man jumped out from behind the building shouting "HEY! HEY! HEY!" at me. I don't know what that was about, because I pretended not to hear and walked north.
In this rather run-down stretch of California, I noticed a fancy mid-century modern furniture store, one of several things I want to come back and photograph. But when I saw the S. California bus coming, I wasn't going to pass it up.
I finally posted this because I'm just about to embark on a walking-and-photography trip that will make this one look tiny and insignificant...