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17thb1.jpg

A two car train trailed by car 425 pulls into the 17th Avenue station on its way to Forest Park. The brick head house and high level platforms were added to the station in the 1920s. Following the discontinuance of Westchester service, 17th Avenue once again became a flag stop and had the shortened semaphores seen here installed.

Photo by Robert Heinlein

17th Ave

17th Avenue and South Maywood Drive, Village of Maywood

History:

17th Avenue opened as a small, local station in 1902. It had two low-level platforms situated on the east side of 17th Avenue.

Due to rapidly increasing traffic east of the Bellwood station, the existing low-level platforms were replaced circa 1911 with high-level 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 17th 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.

When Dr. Thomas Conway, Jr. acquired the Third Rail Division of the Aurora Elgin & Chicago Railroad in 1922, he reorganized it as the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railroad and began a massive rehabilitation to make the railroad faster, bring it up to date, and make it more visually attractive to current and potential passengers. A new brick station was added to 17th Avenue as part of this rehabilitation.2

During this period of reconstruction, the Chicago Aurora & Elgin also began the construction of a new bypass route that left the main line heading south immediately east of Bellwood Avenue. This line was intended to turn west, pass through what is now Oakbrook, and join the Aurora branch near Weisbrook Road.3 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, 1926.4 With the inauguration of “L” service to Westchester, CA&E trains ceased stopping at 17th 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.5 Concurrent with CTA’s withdrawal of service, the CA&E resumed service to the station.6

Tickets were sold at the “Shack” Restaurant, located at 1142 S. 17th Ave., and were available for purchase from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m Monday through Saturday, except on holidays. On Sundays and holidays, tickets were available from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon.7 At all other times, a passenger paid his or her fair 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

Additional Photos

410c.jpg

The 17th Avenue station was rebuilt in the 1920s and recieved the high level platforms seen here. These enabled “L” trains to serve the station as part of the Westchester service. The hinged sections of the platforms (seen clearly on the eastbound platform, at right) folded up and down to permit passage of trains of varying width. Freight trains were of standard railroad width and required the platform edges to be folded up and out of the way. Passenger trains like 410 and its follower, seen heading west, were significantly narrower and berthed with the platform edges down.

Photo by Robert Heinlein

Sources:

  1. Development of the Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railroad.” Electric Railway Journal 5 Aug. 1911: 224. Print. <via Archive.org>
  2. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 298
  3. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 297
  4. "Westchester 'L' Line Is Opened; 180 Trains Daily." Chicago Daily Tribune 1 Oct. 1926: 8. Print.
  5. "Revise Douglas and Garfield 'L' Service Dec. 9." Chicago Daily Tribune 1 Dec. 1951: 4. Print.
  6. Abbott, Tom. "Ask Court Writ as CTA Plans to Change Service." Chicago Daily Tribune 6 Dec. 1951: W2. Print.
  7. Moffat, Cooperation 76