Lake Street Transfer (early 1940s)
From our historical photo collection: This is an early 1940s photo of a bi-level 'L' transfer station, on Chicago's West Side, at about Lake/Paulina.
What's its story?
Before we opened the Dearborn Subway (used by Blue Line service today) in 1951, 'L' trains coming from the northwest stayed elevated the entire way into downtown. After coming southeast on the elevated tracks along Milwaukee, trains would turn south on tracks that went along Paulina, and then east to the Loop via approximately Van Buren. This line was built for Metropolitan West Side 'L' service between downtown and Logan Square, with a short branch off to Humboldt Park.
This photo looks west along Lake St from about Paulina.
While the Met's upper tracks always had a station at Lake St from when it opened, the competing Lake Street 'L' had its own, other stations close by, including the one still in service today at Ashland/Lake (just a block east). In its earliest days, you couldn't transfer between 'L' lines for free, even on the Loop.
Once the companies began to consolidate management and operations in the 1910s and offer free transfers between lines, platforms were built for Lake Street 'L' trains to stop here and make connections with the Met station above. As a result, a bi-level elevated transfer station was created. It opened in 1913.
Once the Dearborn Subway was opened in 1951, trains from the northwest had a faster, more direct way to downtown (and avoided the then-congested Loop 'L') and all service from the northwest was routed into the subway. The disused tracks between Lake and Milwaukee were demolished in the 1960s, as was the transfer station, but its functional descendant lives on in the subway-elevated transfer at Clark/Lake. The Lake Street 'L', continues to serve the area in this photo with Green & Pink Line service via the historic station at Ashland.