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Illinois Medical District ‘L’ Station Opens After 2-Year, $23 Million Overhaul

The renovation project was the largest update to the busy rail station since it opened more than 50 years ago.

Alds. Walter Burnett, left, Jason Ervin help Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut the ribbon.
Walter Mitchell/ City of Chicago

MEDICAL DISTRICT — The Illinois Medical District Blue Line station opened Tuesday after a $23 million overhaul — including new murals. 

The station and concourse were upgraded as part of the two-year project, and other improvements included a new elevator, flooring and finishes and improved lighting and tracker displays, said CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr.

The station serves the busy Medical District, Malcolm X College and the United Center on the Near West Side.

The updated station includes five hand-built and hand-carved porcelain ceramic tile murals from Chicago artist Jason Messinger titled “Vacation.” 

Messinger was commissioned to provide artwork for the the station station after the city issued a call for artists in 2015 and reviewed applications from nearly 350 artists. Each of three stationhouses — Damen, Ogden and Paulina — feature Messinger’s artwork.

Credit: Chicago Transit Authority
The new murals are featured in each of the IMD stationhouses.

As part of the upgrades, the number of security cameras at the station also doubled from 27 to 50 high-definition cameras when the station reopened Tuesday, Carter said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the new station will deliver “a modern and accessible” CTA experience to the thousands of hospital patients, medical workers and students who travel to the Medical District every day.

“By investing in a 21st Century, world-class transit system we are building a stronger future for all of Chicago, its neighborhoods and its residents,” he said.

At a ribbon cutting Tuesday, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said part of the project was paid for with tax-increment financing dollars.

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The station renovation project was the largest update to the busy rail station since it opened more than 50 years ago, CTA officials said. With the exception of the Damen entrance, which was renovated in 1998, the station has received only minor patchwork repairs since it first opened in 1958.

Crews began work on the station renovation in February 2017.

The medical district station is the third-busiest station on the Blue Line Forest Park branch with more than 1 million entries recorded in 2016.  The station provides connections to four major hospital systems — the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, Cook County’s John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, Rush University Medical Center and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. The station also serves Malcolm X College and the United Center.

Since 2011, more than 40 CTA stations have received major upgrades and rehabs, city officials said.

The renovated IMD Blue Line “L” station opened Tuesday.