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While containing architectural elements common on the rapid transit system—such as the wooden shelter on the westbound platform—the 25th Avenue station is painted in the CA&E’s red and blue-gray scheme that matches the two-car train berthed at the easbound platform. The station’s gooseneck lamps—seen at the far left and in front of the entrance to the headhouse—are a holdover from when this was an “L” stop on the Westchester service.

Photo by Robert Heinlein

25th Ave

25th Avenue and Maywood Drive, Village of Bellwood

History:

Madison Street opened in 1902 as a small, local station serving what-was-then rural Bellwood. The station consisted of two low-level platforms located on the northeast corner of Madison Street and 25th Avenue.

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 Madison Street 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.

The station continued to be listed as Madison Street on public timetables as late as 1923; eventually the name was changed to 25th Avenue to reflect the north-south thoroughfare onto which the station fronted instead of Madison Street which ran parallel to the tracks.

In 1925, the Chicago Aurora & Elgin 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.2 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, 1926.3 With the inauguration of “L” service to Westchester, CA&E trains ceased stopping at 25th Avenue and the “L” began providing all service to the station.

Between February 1941 and November 1942, the CA&E once again began stopping at 25th Avenue. As with other “L” stations at which the interurban stopped, the CA&E only picked up passengers here that were headed west and only discharged those that had traveling east.

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.4 Concurrent with CTA’s withdrawal of service, the CA&E resumed full service to the station.5 Tickets were sold at the Tower Inn Restaurant, located at 2501 Madison St., and were available for purchase from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.6 At all other times, a passenger paid 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. Plachno, Sunset Lines - History 297
  3. “Westchester ‘L’ Line Is Opened; 180 Trains Daily.” Chicago Daily Tribune 1 Oct. 1926: 8. Print.
  4. “Revise Douglas and Garfield ‘L’ Service Dec. 9.” Chicago Daily Tribune 1 Dec. 1951: 4. Print.
  5. Abbott, Tom. “Ask Court Writ as CTA Plans to Change Service.” Chicago Daily Tribune 6 Dec. 1951: W2. Print.
  6. Moffat, Cooperation 76