Monday, April 30, 2007

Green Line Renewal

In order to get to the White Sox people commonly take the Red Line, which follows 94 south towards US Cellular Field. The Red Line is mostly underground and they have spruced up a lot of the stations on the way to 35th street.

This weekend, due to chaos and construction on the El, the Red Line was running on the Brown Line tracks which are overhead in the loop, and then switching to a bus, and then back to the Red Line to complete the trip to the Sox stadium. Needless to say this would have been an epic journey even if the CTA were a well run organization, which it isn't, especially on Sunday, when the trains run intermittently during the best of times.

Luckily, for Sox fans, you can also take the Green Line down to 35th. The Green Line runs on overhead tracks, which should make it slower than the Red Line, but really it seemed faster, probably due to a lot of slow spots on the Red Line. Being on overhead tracks, the Green Line is a lot more scenic and you can see all the construction in the south loop and down towards IIT. On Sunday we took the Green Line and we were some of the very few fans to do so... most went the doomed, herd like faux Red Line route.

For people who haven't taken the Green Line in years, I'd recommend trying it from the loop to Sox park. The area near 35th has been totally spruced up; the aging projects are being torn down and few are left; you can see them demolishing the projects in the upper left of the photo, with all the new condos on the rise nearby. There aren't shops or bars yet, but there is street traffic, and you can sense a new vibrancy in the neighborhood. I don't know if I'd press my luck and hang out there at night, but I can see it happening some day in the future, between the improvements on IIT and the surrounding neighborhood and the closeness to the loop.

One unfortunate part of the Green Line stop at 35th is that the CTA, in an attempt to outsmart the taggers, actually hired some local "artists" to put graffiti on the side of the station. Generally the taggers don't paint over someone elses' work, so it has been like this for years. In lots of neighborhoods this is probably a best case for the CTA, but I sense that the Green Line will be moving up and someday they'll paint over this sad cave-in.

My tip - take the Green Line to the Sox Park if it is light out, and maybe even in early evening if there are a bunch of you. Kids will like to see the city from there, and it is less crowded.

I always wondered why the CTA rail system neglected huge parts of the city but then put 2 rail lines parallel to one another... in this case, it works to our advantage.


CZ said...

In my youth grandad would take me to Sox games from Indiana in the late 50's early 60's. We took The South Shore railroad to 63rd st. Then go down to street level, walk over to the EL which at that time was called the Howard-Jackson Park line. We walked up and rode what is now the green like to 35th st and walked west across the Dan Ryan as it was first being constructed.

The area at 35th and State looked like the Blues Brothers scene where they buy instruments from Ray Charles and dance in the street. The Jackson Park extension was torn out long ago. But I remember it as if it were yesterday.

Here' s the old elevated map.

The CTA never was and never will be run efficiently. That's Chicago buracracy and patronage at it's finest. At least Daley ll is cleaning it up and making it pretty.

Frank from Delavan said...

My memories are a bit different, since I went to IIT 1962-1966.

The biggest "L" memory was walking out of the student union, seeing a HUGE cloud of smoke to the south, and seeing the 35'th st station go up in flames.

Before it got bad, the fire dept gave some volunteer students a couple of axes and told them to break car windows to get in and push the cars by hand away from under the track. (Better replacing a door window than a whole car.)

They put the line down the middle of the Dan Ryan because that's the only place they could build it. The flak they got when they tore down the swath of housing to build the Ryan was huge. They didn't need it again to build another fast rail line.

Alderman Jon said...

Personally I think you'd be safe using the Green Line after a night game with the amount of police presence in the area. I once left a game in 2000 (another White Sox division winning year) about 1 a.m. when the projects were still around, and walked to my car that I had parked on State St. I was not foolish as I walked on the IIT side and not the project side of the street.

Also, your first picture shows the police station that Daley put on 35th street a few years back that started this whole change.