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Green Line gets a boost with $50 million overhaul of historic Washington Park station

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The plan will transform the 1892 Garfield Green Line stop into a new “community focal point”

An artist’s rendering of the Garfield Gateway project.
Chicago Transit Authority

An extensive overhaul of one of the nation’s oldest transit stations in the Washington Park neighborhood broke ground Friday on Chicago’s South Side.

City officials including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Transit Authority President Dorval R. Carter Jr. celebrated the construction of the new community focal point, known as the Garfield Gateway.

Partly financed by a $25 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the $50 million project aims to improve commutes with extended platform canopies, new public art, and an upgraded elevator and escalators.

Although no longer in use by transit riders, the original Garfield station house will also receive a much-needed aesthetic refresh. Built in 1892 to bring visitors to the World’s Columbian Exposition, the Chicago landmark is a relic of the city’s very first L station and one of the oldest intact mass transit buildings in the country.

A rendering of the restored Garfield station house.
Chicago Transit Authority

Additional upgrades will extend beyond the CTA station to the surrounding streetscape in the form of new landscaping, sidewalk pavers, pedestrian crosswalks, a bus drop off area, and bike lane on Garfield Boulevard. The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The upcoming Garfield Gateway will compliment the adjacent Arts Block development from Chicago’s Arts + Public Life Initiative led by renowned local artist Theaster Gates. The multiphase project includes the 2013 Arts Incubator as well as the renovation of nearby storefronts into a new black box theater and community exhibition space.

The mayor also took the opportunity on Friday to tout the recently passed Illinois state budget and the $174 million it sets aside for infrastructure improvements related to Chicago’s upcoming Obama Presidential Center, located roughly two miles to the east in Jackson Park. Those funds will go towards road realignment, traffic mitigation, and pedestrian safety enhancements.

If all goes to plan, the the transformative community center and library aims to break ground later this year and open in 2021.