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Although unusual for an “L” station, the arrangement of the platforms at 11th Avenue was common on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin. The westbound platform (seen here being passed by a two car train on the opposite track) was located on the east side of the street while the eastbound platform (behind the photographer) was on the west side.

Photo by Robert Heinlein

11th Ave

11th Avenue and South Maywood Drive, Village of Maywood

History:

Seminary Ave. opened as a small, local stop in suburban Maywood at some point between 1904 and 1911. The stop consisted of two low-level platforms, most likely constructed out of wood. As with many stations built by the Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railway, the station’s platforms were on opposite sides of the street: the eastbound platform was located on the west side of 11th Avenue while the westbound platform was on the east side of the street.

Due to rapidly increasing traffic east of the Bellwood station, the existing low-level platforms were replaced circa 1911 with high-level platforms (platforms the same height as the train floor) and were lengthened to accommodate four-car trains. This was done to speed boarding and alighting, thereby reducing dwell times during rush hour. Once the reconstruction was complete, it was planned to staff the station with a ticket agent who would sell one-day round trip tickets that would be valid only on the date of purchase.1

The new high-level platforms at Seminary Avenue presented a clearance problem for car-load freight trains which hauled standard width freight cars. These freight cars were wider than the passenger cars on the line. In order to alleviate the situation and accommodate trains of both widths, the platforms were fitted with hinged edges that were flipped up and out of the way by passing freight trains and then flipped back down for the passenger cars by a man riding in the caboose.

At some point prior to World War I, the station received a brick passenger shelter2 of the same design used at Berkeley, York St., Spring Road, Villa Park, and High Lake. The condition of the Seminary Avenue station was apparently not met with much approval as on February 14, 1914, a group of 100 Maywood citizens filed complaint with the public utilities commission that the station was “dilapidated, without heat and largely without whole window glasses.” It went on to say that 200 commuters froze at the station each day during cold part of the year. A copy was also sent to Edwin C. Faber, vice president of the railroad.3

The station continued to be listed as Seminary Avenue on public timetables as late as 1923; by 1926 the station’s name had been changed to 11th Avenue.

In 1925, the CA&E began construction on a new bypass route leaving the main line heading south immediately east of Bellwood Avenue. The line was intended to turn west, pass through what is now Oakbrook, and join the Aurora branch near Weisbrook Road.4 Local service to and from the city of Westchester would be operated over the eastern portion of this route which would be provided by the rapid transit lines. The intermediate stations between Forest Park and Bellwood would fall under this new service and become rapid transit stations.

Although the route had only been constructed to Roosevelt Road, the new rapid transit service to Westchester began October 1, 1926.5 With the inauguration of “L” service to Westchester, CA&E trains ceased stopping at 11th Avenue and the “L” began providing all service to the station.

In October 1947, the newly formed Chicago Transit Authority took over operation of the surface and rapid transit systems in Chicago and began cutting back poor performing services in order to economize. The Westchester branch, which had little population density to support it, was viewed as one of these and on December 9, 1951, CTA discontinued rapid transit service west of Desplaines Avenue, replacing the line with the #17 Westchester bus.6 Concurrent with CTA’s withdrawal of service, the CA&E resumed service to the station.7

Unlike at 5th, 17th, and 25th (where tickets were sold at nearby commercial establishments) after CTA withdrew service to Westchester, no tickets were sold at this location.8 A passenger had to pay his or her fare onboard the train.

On July 3, 1957, passenger service on the CA&E abruptly ended at 12:13 p.m. The station was eventually demolished.

Station Timetables

t_bellwood-maywood_1952-02-25.pdf

Feb. 25, 1952

Sources:

  1. Development of the Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railroad.” Electric Railway Journal 5 Aug. 1911: 224. Print. <via Archive.org>
  2. Johnson, Aurora ‘N’ Elgin 31
  3. Complaint on Depot Filed.” Chicago Daily Tribune 15 Feb. 1914: 2. Print. <via Newspapers.com>
  4. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 297
  5. “Westchester ‘L’ Line Is Opened; 180 Trains Daily.” Chicago Daily Tribune 1 Oct. 1926: 8.
  6. “Revise Douglas and Garfield ‘L’ Service Dec. 9.” Chicago Daily Tribune 1 Dec. 1951: 4.
  7. Abbott, Tom. “Ask Court Writ as CTA Plans to Change Service.” Chicago Daily Tribune 6 Dec. 1951: W2.
  8. Moffat, Cooperation 76