Friday, July 18, 2008

The end of the Jackson Park L east of Cottage Grove

I found this video that showed the demolition of this L line we would today call the East 63rd Green Line. That part of town could have had that L line as a sort of asset but it was determined to be a part of the blight on that part of town and there was success in tearing it down.

Imagine this, once upon a time this line went into Jackson Park right past Stony Island. Don't believe me? Check out this page from

This decision seems to have been controversial and I would like to point you in the direction of this article...
In a controversial decision that brought an angry reaction from community activists in the audience, the Chicago Transit Authority Board voted Wednesday to back a plan to tear down a three-quarter-mile section of the Green Line.

The board followed the lead of the city, which contends that demolition of the CTA's elevated structure between Cottage Grove and Dorchester Avenues is critical for residential redevelopment along 63rd Street in the economically depressed Woodlawn neighborhood.

The long-running battle over the rail segment now shifts to Washington, where federal officials have been asked by the city to provide funds for demolition and forgo repayment of grants used to make improvements on the line.

The debate over whether to retain or tear down the Cottage-to-Dorchester segment has stretched over the last two decades, said Joseph Boyle Jr., the city's commissioner of planning and development.

Disagreement on what to do has "prolonged the discussion and delayed the decision," and there has been little development along 63rd as a result, Boyle told the board. Taking down the elevated structure "will allow 63rd Street to become a focal point for community activity rather than a barrier," he asserted.

Demolition opponents charged that the tear-down plan is designed to permit continued purchase of city-owned parcels along 63rd by the Apostolic Church of God and its pastor, Bishop Arthur Brazier, a veteran Woodlawn community leader. But Boyle said the city's only interest is in neighborhood regeneration.

Citing the results of a March 12 hearing and other public comment, city officials have told the Federal Transit Administration that 56 percent of area residents favor demolition.

Activists who oppose razing the structure charged Wednesday that the numbers were "ginned," and they slammed the CTA's decision to support the city's position.

"I think it was an act of cannibalism," declared Jackie Leavy, project coordinator of the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group, a community-redevelopment umbrella group. "They are eating up their own rapid-transit infrastructure.

"In 10 years, when the Woodlawn community repopulates, those householders are going to be asking why they don't have clean, quiet rapid-transit service," Leavy said. "Clearly the facts show that redevelopment has been going at an increasing pace for several years."
The deed was done and if you go over to Hyde Park Progress and look at this post, people are still talking about this if you look in the comments. Here's an example:
This facility, however, was never opened and was actually torn down due to political pressure brought to bear on the CTA® by certain residents of Woodlawn and Reverend Arthur Brazier, who believed the structure over East 63rd Street would further blight Woodlawn and prevent redevelopment.

That is one of the more bizarre chapters of CTA history, right there. And, I must say, one of the more prominent cases of human folly in recent history.

Brought to you by the same guy who developed the 47th Street Co-Op location.

A mindset straight out of the early 60s -- Urban Renewal written all over it. Old timers with old ideas -- a problem in every neighborhood.
In a time where we want to get cars off the road for the sake of the environment and to ease congestion I hope that we never buy into this idea that we don't need an L or some form of rapid transit. Or indeed that an L contributes to blight when it could have just as easily been spruced up and been in regular service.

If Woodlawn is ever going to become the next hot neighborhood, especially if the University of Chicago is moving further south, I wonder if CTA could just simply do a re-extension? Perhaps there can be L service to the Museum of Science and Industry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I beleive the el could have been a vital part in the redevelopment of Woodlawn. Tearing it down was a big mistake.

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