Transit Pawn

If you ride CTA trains for any length of time, chances are you have a favorite stop. The Addison Red LIne station (940 West Addison Street) is always a big winner in any El popularity contest, as is Sox/35th (142 West 35th Street).  History buffs tend to gravitate toward the Quincy stop on the Loop.

The station had its most recent renovation in 1988, but when that was done, care was taken to preserve the historic character of the A.M. Hedley-designed stop.  The platform first opened to riders in 1897, and standing on that platform today earns you a whiff of what the city was like more than a hundred years ago.

You might not realize it at first glance, but this is the only station in the CTA network where advertising is prohibited.  It doesn’t take long to notice that ads you see on the walls are actually the sort of of advertising that might have appeared on this train platform back when it was a stop along Fifth Avenue on the Union Elevated Railroad.

Quincy is one of the last of the original El stations.  It has been preserved thanks to an agreement between the federal government and the State of Illinois.  Much of wood and tin that you see is original, though there are inconsistencies necessary to accommodate modern fare equipment and safety standards.

While you’re there soaking up the atmosphere, keep your eye out for chess pieces in the architecture.  Most evident are the pawns that adorn the top of the stairway entrance canopies.  This is because the street, and its station, were named after President John Quincy Adams, who was a well-known chess enthusiast, and collected chess sets.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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