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Theaster Gates unveils public art and DJ booth for new 95th Street Red Line terminal

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The upcoming train and bus depot is on track to open later next year

Chicago Transit Authority

Chicago-based artist and community activist Theaster Gates joined city officials yesterday to provide an early look at a pair of public art concepts for the South Side’s upcoming 95th Street train and bus complex. Announced at the Stony Island Arts Bank—another Gates creation—the initiative calls for a pair of wall-mounted tapestries as well as a live radio DJ booth. Designed to look back at history as well as forward into the future, both installations are tied to the cultural identity of the South Side and its communities.

Dubbed “america america” the hanging tapestries will be comprised of stitched-together, decommissioned fire hoses. Slated to hang above the escalators of the southern terminal of the two-building transit complex, the pieces serve as a reminder of the hoses police often turned on protesters during the tumultuous Civil Rights Movement as well as the historical role played by the CTA in the fight for equality.

Meanwhile, the north building has been tapped as the future home of a radio DJ booth. Known as AESOP (An Extended Song of Our People), the booth will feature live artists mixing music and oral histories from local residents over the station’s public address system. It is hoped that AESOP’s programming could be eventually expanded to include online streaming.

City of Chicago

The centerpiece of the Emanuel administration’s “Red Ahead” CTA revitalization program, the upcoming 95th Street complex comes from architectural firm EXP. Previously based in Toronto, the company announced earlier this year that it would bring its headquarters and 150 additional jobs to the Windy City.

The new South Side terminals will straddle the median of the Dan Ryan Expressway, flanked on all sides by dedicated bus bays. The overhaul will bring year-round, all-weather functionality to the busy station with canopies over the loading zones as well as an enclosed walkway over 95th Street connecting the north and south buildings.

The $280 million project is being funded by local, state, and federal dollars. According to the city, the project will be fully completed by the end of 2018 with the south building slated to come online before the northern structure.