Built in 1893, the original Damen Avenue el stop on what is now the Chicago Transit Authority Green Line enjoyed reliable ridership in the heavily populated Near West Side until a decline in usage caused the City to remove it in 1948.
Steady residential and commercial growth in the area over the last few decades, however, has seen residents and business owners demand the City revisit this long-ago decision. As a result, the City and CTA will build a new Damen stop to fill the 1.5-mile gap between the Green Line’s Ashland and California stations.
The City chose architecture and design company Perkins & Will to design the station. “We create places with meaning,” Perkins & Will said in a statement. “There’s so much more to architecture than what meets the eye. Every place has a story, and as we design we help tell it. Our work enlivens neighborhoods, builds communities, energizes the citizenry, and respects and protects our planet.” Other local Perkins & Will projects include the William Jones College Preparatory High School on State Street and the butterfly-shaped Rush Medical Center building on Ashland Avenue near the Eisenhower Expressway.
Perkins & Will stated it approached the Damen el station project with safety in mind, envisioning a station where patrons could see clearly within the building and to and from the street and that is easily accessible to bike and bus lanes. Project leaders hope to include a vibrant mural by a community artist as well.
Slated for opening in 2023, the station finally will provide el access to many nearby public housing residents as well as United Center attendees and workers in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor.
According to the CTA, the Damen Station will comply with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. Besides being accessible, it will include two elevators, one on each side of the station; one point of entry; various points of exit; a grand staircase and escalator visible through the station’s glass façade, which will guide arriving passengers up to the platform level; and a crossover glass-enclosed bridge that will give passengers an easier connection between the inbound and outbound train platforms.
The station’s design elements will enhance and simplify the traveling experience for CTA passengers while providing improved transit access to the Near West Side, which the CTA acknowledged has seen significant new residential and commercial development in recent years.
Hannah Jones, director of economic development at the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago, expressed enthusiasm about the project. “We believe the creation of the Damen Green Line station fills a community need for the Near West Side residents and modern urban industrial businesses alike and will continue to promote equitable transit-oriented development once the station is completed,” Jones said.
The CTA hoped to begin construction in 2019, but bid delays and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic held up the project until now. Officials expect the project to cost approximately $50 to $60 million; funding sources include tax increment financing and State funds.
“This new station will give residents more transportation options and will open up more employment opportunities, making it easier for them to get to schools and improve their overall quality of life,” said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward). “I am very pleased with the new design that will create a station our residents can be proud of and allow for future growth in our community.”
Call Burnett at (312) 432-1995. For the CTA, log on to www.transitchicago.com. Log on to www.industrialcouncil.com for the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago or call (312) 421-3941. For Perkins & Will, call (312) 755-0770 or log on to perkinswill.com.