Thursday, June 23, 2011
Not that 5th Avenue! This is a vintage station sign from the Chicago Rapid Transit Company's elevated train system, also known as the L. This one happens to be for 5th Avenue on the now-defunct Westchester branch, which ran from the old Metropolitan Elevated's Garfield Park line at Desplaines Avenue all the way out to Mannheim Road. It was meant to be a bypass for the Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin interurban, serving what was hoped to be the newly booming town of Westchester. Development never happened, and the line remained a footnote in CA&E and CTA history until it's abandonment in the fifties. Today, parts of it make up the Illinois Prairie Path.
The sign itself is pretty interesting too. This style of station sign was current in the CRT from 1892 until 1977, when an entirely new, unified sign package was introduced in the CTA's system. Quite a few of the classic blue and white signs remained in use, though, the most famous one being at Sheridan on the Red Line, which remained in place until 2002! These signs are quite sought after today, along with the old yellow street signs, as a piece of Chicago history.