Changes to transit around Cleveland

My interest in photography as a way to document the world matured during my time in Cleveland, and as my time there comes to a close, I have begun to think about the change that occurred in my relatively short time here.

Railcar Renovations

My first experience with transit in Cleveland was in February 2015 as part of a campus visit to Case Western Reserve University. Some photos from that trip are available in my previous post explaining the evolution of my photography. One photo I didn’t include in there was the interior of the train:

Interior of the Red Line as of February 2015

That trip was the only time I ever rode where the interior looked like that, since the RTA undertook a refurbishment project on the entire Red Line fleet. Now, the interiors look like this:

Interior of the current Red Line fleet

I first experienced the new fleet when I did a prospective student visit after being admitted. I took the train back to the airport and experienced the renovated interior for the first time. It looks a lot nicer, with better-looking seats, brighter lights, an easier-to-clean floor, better color scheme, etc.

Little Italy Station

In early 2015 when I first visited Cleveland, the two stops near CWRU were Cedar-University and Euclid-East 120th. The latter would cease to exist before I returned, being replaced by the new Little Italy-University Circle station a block away later that year. Not long later, the original Euclid-East 120th Street station would be demolished.

Little Italy-University Circle Platform looking inbound 2
The platform at Little Italy
Little Italy entrance at night
The entrance to the station from Mayfield Road

Tower City Track Replacement

Starting around the time I came to CWRU, the RTA began replacing Track 8 (the main westbound track) at Tower City. The original track looked something like this:

Eastbound platform at Tower City looking west 1
Current eastbound track – the original westbound track also looked like this, with the trackbed paved over

For the time it took to replace the track during the first part of my freshman year, westbound trains were diverted to a non-revenue track separate from the main station. This temporary station had its own fare control and everything:

Entrance to temporary Tower City platform
Entrance to the temporary westbound Tower City station, August 2016
Turnstiles at temporary Tower City platform
Turnstiles at the temporary westbound station
Red/Waterfront temporary platform at Tower City 1
ADA ramp to the temporary Red Line platform
Red/Waterfront temporary platform at Tower City 3
Temporary westbound track from the platform

Eventually, late in 2016, the project was completed and the new westbound track completed, and service was restored to the main station for both directions. The new track used ballastless track, a major improvement over the original. Take a look:

Upgraded Red Line westbound track at Tower City
New westbound track! (December 2016)

Now, in early 2020, they’re performing similar work on the stub tracks on either side. Since both through tracks are still in service, service isn’t affected and trains simply don’t terminate directly at Tower City for the time being.

Track 10 construction work at Tower City
Tower City track 10 reconstruction, March 2020 [added on March 7, 2020 after original publication]


During the second half of 2016, the Warrensville-Shaker station on the Green Line was replaced. I don’t have any pictures of the original station, but I do have some pictures of the new one:

Outbound platform at Warrensville - Shaker
New track and platforms at Warrensville-Shaker, with the mini-high platforms not quite complete yet and landscaping remaining to be done, October 2016
Looking outbound at Warrensville-Shaker
New station, November 2016


In 2017, the RTA replaced the Lee-Shaker station. It was a basic median streetcar station on Shaker Boulevard, but was at a particularly high-traffic location and thus could use both a modernization and ADA accessibility. I actually was (according to Google Images) the first person to post pictures of the new station online.

Westbound shelter and wheelchair lift at Lee-Shaker
New shelter and mini-high platform at Lee-Shaker, September 2017
Eastbound Green Line train passing the westbound platform at Lee-Shaker
Eastbound train waiting to cross Lee Road


The Brookpark Station saw a complete replacement during my Freshman year. The station that existed in 2016 was a “temporary” station that had been in use for about ten years.

Old headhouse at Brookpark
Old headhouse at Brookpark, September 2016

I first came to Cleveland during the reconstruction process, so I saw the platform shortened so it only fit one car plus one door on the other car (before this construction project started, the platform could fit a full train). However, the platform was one of only three wooden platforms on the system (the others being East 79th and East 34th, and only East 79th is still wooden now). The headhouse also was on the opposite side of the westbound track from the island platform with no tunnel or bridge, requiring passengers to cross the track to access the platform.

Grade crossing and station house at Brookpark
Grade crossing at the old station
Looking eastbound from Brookpark
Old wooden platform

Throughout my freshman year, construction activity was going on. I was impatiently waiting for it to be done, constantly looking for press releases. I distinctly remember taking the train out to the airport very early in the morning with an operator who seemed like he had just started his shift and was very enthusiastic, and he said “Next stop: Brookpark! The new station is coming very soon, folks…” The time I was waiting for finally came around in April, when trains began stopping at the new platform. The new station was a much more modern station:

East headhouse at Brookpark after opening
New headhouse on the eastern side, April 2016
Looking away from headhouse at Brookpark
New platform
Brookpark west entrance and plaza
New entrance on the western side, which opened much later than the rest of the new station (photo taken September 2017)
Inside headhouse at Brookpark
Headhouse interior

In all, the new station looked much more modern and was more functional than the one it replaced. I was quite pleased with the new results. Interestingly, this removed the only grade crossing on the Red Line for a time, but another one would open later at East 34th Street (read on…)

East 34th Street

The East 34th Street station as I first remember it was a fairly outdated and run-down station. It was a simple island platform (with a low section for the Blue/Green lines and a high section for the Red Line) accessible by a single set of stairs from East 34th Street.

Red Line platform at East 34th
Red Line platform
East 34th entrance
The lone entrance from East 34th Street
Deterioration of the stairs at E. 34th
Worn-down concrete with exposed rebar on the stairs

My sophomore year, the renovation project began. I did my best to come down to the station when I had the chance so that I could document the change.

E. 34th stairs and construction, September 2017
The old stairs next to some pre-landscaping for the new ones
Future E. 34th stairs, September 2017
The groundwork for the new stairs begins
November 2017 Red Line platform progress at E. 34th
Foundation for the new Red Line platform
New stairs/ramp at East 34th Street, March 2018
The new stairs are on the way up
East 34th station platform, May 2018
Progress on the low platform for the Blue/Green lines and the entrance in May 2018
East 34th future entrance, May 2018
Progress on the new entrance, May 2018

Then, as I went back to North Carolina for the summer, work continued. I came back in the fall to see the work mostly completed:

East 34th Street from ramp turnaround
Overhead view of the new station, September 2018
Unfinished Red Line platform at East 34th Street, September 2018
Not-quite-finished Red Line platform, September 2018
Westbound track crossing at East 34th Street
After the removal of the Brookpark grade crossing the previous year, this one was added
New entrance to East 34th Street Station
The new entrance

The new station also looked much more modern and fresh, giving a nice upgrade to the Campus District. It was also renamed “Tri-C – Campus District” to reflect its proximity to Tri-C.

East 105th-Quincy

For a long time, East 105th-Quincy was known for only opening the front door of the front car of each train due to the platform being too short. Needless to say, this was a cause of a lot of confusion for riders not familiar with the situation and delays for everyone else. Riders in the second car had to go between cars if they wanted to get off, and the single door slowed everyone down.

E. 105th - Quincy platform looking inbound
The short platform (I’m standing at the end of the platform in this photo)
Inbound train at E. 105th - Quincy
A train too short for the platform it is serving

Beginning in late 2017, work began to lengthen the platform. Not only did they lengthen the platform, but they also opened a second entrance, maknig this one of only two stations in the entire system with two entrances, the other being West 65th-Lorain.

Platform extension at E. 105th-Quincy under construction
Concrete supports in place, October 2017
E. 105th-Quincy platform extension progress, May 2018
Metal framing, May 2018
E. 105th-Quincy platform, May 2018
…but the work still isn’t complete yet

As of September 2018, the platform had been lengthened to the point where a two car train could open all of its doors.

Overhead view of extended platform at East 105th - Quincy
The platform is getting longer, September 2018
Red Line train opening ALL DOORS at East 105th - Quincy
A train opening all of its doors, September 2018

However, that was only one part of the project. Next, the new entrance was to open in 2019.

E. 105th-Quincy entrance on E. 105th Street
New entrance on East 105th (the Opportunity Corridor), April 2019
Platform at E. 105th-Quincy, looking east
The new platform, now fully in service, April 2019

East 116th Street

East 116th Street also saw a major renovation, going from being a fairly old station similar to what East 34th originally was (especially the staircases) to another modern station.

Inbound platform at E. 116th
Original station, October 2016
Street entrance to E. 116th
Original entrance to East 116th Street

Then, the renovations began! The temporary station in place during the renovations consisted of two wooden platforms and a fairly basic entrance located further down the block to allow work on the new station to proceed unobstructed:

Train at temporary East 116th station
Temporary wooden platforms, May 2018
East 116th temporary entrance
Temporary entrance
Demolition at E. 116th
Demolition of the old station, May 2018

Then, the new station was built mostly over the summer, so I wasn’t able to document it. So, let’s jump to the big finish:

Inbound entrance to E. 116th Station
New entrance, May 2019
New entrance to East 116th Station
New entrance (including both sides)
Eastbound track at East 116th
New eastbound track, February 2020
Track and westbound platform at East 116th
New platforms

The new station, like the others, was a major improvement. It fit in nicely with the surrounding neighborhood, was ADA accessible, and was generally just much nicer-looking.

Blue Line renovations

I was notified on Wikipedia that the RTA was performing some upgrades for various stations on the Blue Line, so when I got the time and clear skies, I went out there to document the upgrades. The upgrades appeared to be new signage and shelters, with the platform structure itself remaining unchanged. The first station where I saw such upgrades was Avalon:

Shelter at Avalon looking outbound
New shelter at Avalon, November 2019
Shelter and sign at Avalon
New signage at Avalon

Final thoughts

A lot changed in four years, and I was glad to be here to document it. These renovations gave me exciting material for photography and always gave me an excuse to get out of University Circle for a while. They are in keeping with Cleveland’s city motto of “Progress and Prosperity” (even though one of the stations was in Shaker Heights) and helped modernize the city. It looks like I’ve seen the last major project that will be completed before I leave here in May, but I know there’s plenty of work going on in Chicago that I will be able to photograph as well.

Evolution of photography

I first got my feet wet with regards to photography in about eleventh grade. My first time going out by myself with a camera was on the Los Angeles Metro. I was meeting some family at LACMA while coming from Beverly Hills, so I arranged that I would get dropped off at Culver City, take the Expo Line (now alternately known as the E line) to 7th Street/Metro Center, then transfer to the Purple Line (now also known as the D line), take that out to Wilshire/Western, then meet everyone else there, and we’d drive the rest of way to LACMA, at Wilshire/Fairfax (which will be on the line in a few years, but definitely not in 2013).

Along the trip, I just took pictures of basically anything and everything, not really bothering to pay attention to my subject matter or the quality of the photos. I knew nothing about photography other than you point the camera at something and hit the button. I didn’t even have a camera of my own, I borrowed someone else’s. Here is a sampling of a few photos I took:

The interior of my train
The station sign (through the open door of my train)
The platform at Culver City
My train after ending its run at 7th Street/Metro Center
An out-of-service train waiting on the relay tracks at 7th Street/Metro Center (the tracks end at a wall behind that train, though this will change with the Regional Connector project)
My Purple Line train relaying at Wilshire/Western, which I later posted on Wikipedia as the headline photo for the article about that station since no platform photos were there at the time, and as of the time I write this post, it still is
The mezzanine level looking towards the escalator
Me (in the black fleece and shorts) posing in front of the station sign pylon

That was my first foray into photography. Obviously, those weren’t exactly the world’s best photos, but that’s what got me started.

Cleveland and Chicago, Round 1

Later on, in February 2015, I toured colleges in the Midwestern United States, specifically Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve (which I ended up attending), and Northwestern. This was my second opportunity to try a bit of railroad photography. In Cleveland, I wanted to explore a new transit system, so I took the Red Line from Cedar/University to Tower City to grab lunch there. I forgot to ask to borrow a camera for this one, so I got my pictures with a cell phone. I got some pictures along the way there too:

Red Line train relaying on the stub track at Tower City
Eastbound track at Tower City

Later on, after my tour of Northwestern, I ran from there to Millennium Station (about 13 miles) for my long run that week, and then then took the South Shore Line back to South Bend (where I was staying). Once I got to Millennium Station, I took some more pictures while waiting for my train:

Part of the station concourse
Two South Shore Line trains
A waiting Metra train

Travels in 2016

I traveled some along the way (still using borrowed cameras), to places like Boston…

Back Bay NEC platforms 12
Northeast Corridor platforms at Back Bay
Blue Line train at Government Center 2
Newly renovated Government Center station
Looking Inbound from Assembly 2
Then-new Assembly Square station

…and New York City…

Two NJT trains at NY Penn Station
New York Penn Station (two New Jersey Transit trains)
Looking eastbound from the Newark Airport Rail Station
Newark Airport rail station

My own camera

Then, as I graduated high school, I got my own camera, a Canon Powershot G9X, about the size of a deck of cards. I definitely got familiar with that camera over the next few years. Back in Los Angeles in the summer of 2016, I had my first real rodeo with that camera:

Entrance to 7th Street/Metro Center
The entrance to 7th Street/Metro Center
Platform at Westwood/Rancho Park 1
Platform at Westwood/Rancho Park, which had opened since my last trip to Los Angeles
Two trains at Pico
Pico station
Looking towards the bumper block at Downtown Santa Monica
Downtown Santa Monica Station

Cleveland, Round 2: a whole new city

Then, after that summer was over, I started college at CWRU. I immediately set out to get pictures of all the train station around Cleveland. Here are some of my preliminary efforts:

Little Italy-University Circle Platform looking inbound 2
Home sweet home, the Little Italy station
Cedar-University headhouse
The Cedar-University Station
Inbound train at E. 105th - Quincy
A train at East 105th-Quincy, showing how the platform is too short for the full length of the train (this has been fixed in the meantime)

Speaking of Tower City, I revisited that station. They were performing maintenance on one of the tracks, so they opened a station on one of the non-revenue tracks:

Eastbound platform at Tower City looking west 3
A somewhat-better picture of the Red Line platform at Tower City
Red/Waterfront temporary platform at Tower City 1
Temporary platform at Tower City
Turnstiles at temporary Tower City platform
Temporary turnstiles at Tower City

Definitely some progress was made in the meantime. I was able to better choose subject matter and get it in the frame. The quality was also better, with the pictures being clearer and better focused. However, the alignment was still pretty haphazard, with a lot of the pictures not level at all. I also didn’t really appreciate the importance of lighting just yet.

My next big breakthrough was in alignment, when I went out to Lee-Van Aken. I realized I could line up the camera with reference lines in the picture (in this case I used the power poles), and as a result my pictures were actually consistently level.

Both platforms at Lee-Van Aken
Lee-Van Aken: a level picture!
Outbound platform at Drexmore from south end
Drexmore Station
Stokes-Windermere station
Stokes-Windermere Station

I also got to apply these skills elsewhere traveling to Charlotte for a day…

Both platforms at 3rd Street-Convention Center from north end
Platforms at 3rd Street-Convention Center in Charlotte

…and New York City again…

(7)/<7> Platform at 34th Street - Hudson Yards
34th Street-Hudson Yards
Looking up the escalator at 34th Street - Hudson Yards
Escalator at 34th Street-Hudson Yards
Downtown (A) platform at Dyckman Street
Dyckman Street (IND Eighth Avenue Line)

…and Los Angeles again…

Western end of the platform at Expo/Sepulveda
Expo/Sepulveda platform
Train at Hollywood/Highland
Hollywood/Highland platform

Around this time, I also got interested in taking pictures of buildings in addition to transit systems.

Downtown Los Angeles from City Hall observation deck
Downtown Los Angeles skyline
Lower Manhattan Skyline from Staten Island Ferry 2
Lower Manhattan skyline

With that, I felt much more confident in my photography skills. I had definitely seen some improvement, my pictures were clearer and more level. Still, I was missing some things.

The start to 2018: Lighting

The next big improvement in my photography was lighting. Before I didn’t really even think about sunny or cloudy, or where the light sources were indoors. As a result, the colors often didn’t look quite like I wanted or the wrong objects were emphasized. With a renewed emphasis on lighting, I continued my work. In the winter of 2017-2018, I went to San Francisco, with my first vacation that had a really high emphasis on photography:

San Franciso skyline from Mission Dolores Park
San Francisco skyline
Light from above at Glen Park
Glen Park station
Mezzanine at 24th Street Mission from elevator end
24th Street Mission Station Mezzanine
Middle of the platform at Powell Street
Powell Street platform
Inbound platform at Castro
Castro platform
San Bruno platform from north end
San Bruno platform

The improvements definitely showed themselves in San Francisco. Having a photography-oriented trip also was a good opportunity to see for myself what worked and what didn’t. With that, I felt much more confident going forwards. I continued my photography along Cleveland and other places I went. I did my first internship at TransEnterix that following summer as well. Since I didn’t want to take any time off work, my travel opportunities were somewhat limited, just going back to Charlotte for a day (this time trying to aim for a sunnier day) and taking an afternoon trip to Raleigh. However, I had a few days between my last day at the internship and when I had to get back to school, so I took advantage of that to take a quick trip to Washington, DC.

One train waiting at Huntington
Train waiting at Huntington
Back of a Blue Line train at Crystal City
Train at Crystal City
Trains on both levels at Rosslyn
Trains at Rosslyn
Long escalator at Rosslyn 2
Escalator at Rosslyn
United States Capitol Building
Capitol Building (I went to DC, I had to get this one)

After DC, I felt pretty solid in my abilities. I definitely had the alignment thing down, and I was getting a lot better at lighting.

Richmond and Philadelphia

My next big photo adventure was a day trip to Richmond, Virginia in late 2018. I picked a day with perfectly clear skies, and basically spent all day walking around the city with my camera taking pictures of anything and everything that interested me:

Downtown Richmond skyline
Richmond skyline during the day
Downtown Richmond at night
Richmond skyline at night

With those two pictures, I began to feel that the limiting factor in my pictures was my camera and no longer the user. In particular, for the nighttime shot, I was having trouble getting the focus where I needed (my camera didn’t have any options beyond five meters other than “infinite distance”) as well as the lighting settings. I also was starting to use manual mode, which was really cumbersome on that camera. I took a mental note that a new camera was in order. Still, I continued on with what I had, and later on went to Philadelphia:

Philadelphia Skyline from South Street Bridge
Philadelphia skyline
Track 2 at Jefferson Station
Jefferson Station
Ridge Spur platform at Fairmount
Fairmount Ridge Spur platform
Northbound express track at Girard
Express tracks at Girard
Tracks at 13th Street Station
Tracks at 13th Street Station

I really gained an appreciation for lighting after this trip. I only had one sunny day, the first one (and I got there late in the day, so I was only really able to get that one skyline photo). I also learned that SEPTA, in contrast to many other subway systems, is very well lit. This made photography much easier and let me get higher quality pictures.

Chicago, Round 2

Over spring break that year, I traveled to Chicago. I returned to Millennium Station, and my new photos were definitely an improvement:

Waiting area at Millennium Station
Concourse at Millennium Station
Metra track at Millennium Station
Metra track at Millennium Station

I also got many pictures of the L:

Stairs to Red Line at Jackson
Jackson Blue Line platform
Platform at Harold Washington Library at night
Harold Washington Library platform
Elevated train stopped at Roosevelt
Train stopped at Roosevelt

I also got some pictures of buildings and stuff…

Chicago skyline from Adler Planetarium
The Chicago skyline
Tracks into Downtown Chicago from Museum Campus/11th Street Station
Metra Electric District tracks with Downtown Chicago in the background

That ended up being my last major expedition with my Canon. I had a few minor ones later on, including a brief trip back to Charlotte, a quick trip to Downtown Durham, as well as a trip to Greensboro, which turned out to be my last expedition with that camera:

Greensboro skyline from the Amtrak station
Greensboro skyline

Transition to a new camera, Atlanta, and beyond

Then, I got a new, more powerful camera: an Olympus E-M10. To take it out for a test drive, I took some pictures around Durham:

21C and One City Center
The two tallest buildings in Downtown Durham

The camera felt way more powerful than my previous one. It took me a while to get used to all its features and how to use them, but I knew this was a major step forwards. In the middle of the summer, I took a solo trip to Atlanta, and that is still to date my most successful photography expedition:

Downtown Atlanta skyline at night
Downtown Atlanta skyline at night
Midtown Atlanta skyline from I-85 and 17th Street
Midtown Atlanta skyline
Westbound train at Dome-GWCC
Backs of two trains at North Springs
North Springs
Vine City platform
Vine City
Platform at Peachtree Center
Peachtree Center Station
Five Points lower level northbound track
Five Points Red/Gold Line (lower level) platform

I definitely was still getting the hang of the whole exposure/ISO/F-stop thing, as evidenced by the lighting in some of these photos. Still, these photos were clearer than anything I had done before, and I felt much more in control. It was also awesome traveling solo for photography, which gave me a ton of practice.

For my final fall break I decided to travel to Pittsburgh with a friend. It was only for a few days, but I still had plenty of opportunities for photography:

Pittsburgh daytime skyline from Grandview Overlook
Pittsburgh skyline during the day
Nighttime skyline of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh skyline at night
Outbound track at Steel Plaza
Steel Plaza station
Outbound train at North Side
North Side Station
Cathedral of Learning
Cathedral of Learning

I had gotten a better feel for all the settings on my camera this time, so my pictures came out looking more or less how I wanted them.

I also traveled to Los Angeles and San Diego in the winter of 2019-2020, which I have already talked about in another post.

So, since I took up photography, my skills have improved dramatically. It wasn’t a sudden shift, but something that happened over time. I’m moving to Chicago soon, and that will give me a whole new city to explore. I look forward to what I find there, and hope my skills continue to improve. The future holds exciting things, and I can’t wait to see (and photograph) what they are.

A monthlong quest for knowledge

Many Wikipedia articles on mass transit stations are fairly lacking, since often there are many stations in one system and most editors don’t find individual stations except for the major ones all that interesting. In particular, the photos have often been limited to non-existent for many stations. Since I have learned so much about transit systems from Wikipedia, I always feel compelled to offer my own expertise and photography to improve the information for others out there.

One example is the East 105th – Quincy Station, located fairly close to where I am now in Cleveland. For a long time, the platform was very short and only the front door of the front car of each train opened. Starting in late 2017, a project was undertaken to extend the platform to fit the length of a full three car train and open a new entrance. Once the project was completed, nobody had updated the article to reflect this. Since I live less than two miles from there, I waited for a sunny day and took a brief trip out there with my camera to update the article, and now the article accurately reflects the history of the station, complete with pictures of the results.

Over spring break last year (March 2019), I traveled to Chicago for a few days since I had never really gotten to know the city all that well. Chicago has a very interesting transit system, and the Metra Electric District was a particular object of my fascination. One station along the line that seemed interesting but had almost no documentation on Wikipedia was McCormick Place. I was interested in that station because of its underground-ish nature (I knew McCormick Place was built on top of it, but I wanted to see how enclosed it was) as well as its unique design being integrated into McCormick Place.

To see for myself what was going on at McCormick Place, I went there. The final destination was the Museum of Science and Industry, located on the same line near the 55th-56th-57th Street Station. Since the museum didn’t open until 10am and it was before 9am and I otherwise had nothing to do, I headed down to Millennium Station and boarded the next outbound Metra train. I jumped ship at McCormick Place to see for myself what was going on there. Of course, I got some photos, a few of which are here:

Entrance to platform at McCormick Place
Platform entrance
Metra waiting room at McCormick Place
Waiting room
Platform at McCormick Place, looking north
Metra entrance at McCormick Place
Entrance from the convention center

After getting those pictures, I waited around for the next train. Since it was a Saturday, they only ran every 30 minutes, though I took my time taking those pictures. On schedule, the train arrived and I continued down to the Museum of Science and Industry. The museum was super cool, but that’s a topic for another time.

Later on, I improved the Wikipedia article with my knowledge from the photos I took. I specifically added a better photo of the platform to the infobox and described the basic layout of the station.

Over this most recent winter break (December 2019-January 2020), I further improved the article since it was still lacking sufficient information. In particular, I described the rail service patterns in more depth and included some information from Metra press releases about some recent renovations and more planned in the future.

While I covered the current state of the system as well as I could have hoped (there’s always room for more depth, but I think I got the point across), I was unsatisfied by a complete lack of information about the history of the station. The only source I could find was on The information presented there definitely was interesting, but I couldn’t find any authoritative sources to back it up. On and off throughout January, I searched all over the internet for information about the 1996 opening of the station or the previously-existing 23rd Street station and found nothing other than that same page.

Finally, this most recent week, I had a breakthrough. All of my previous searches were searching for Metra’s 23rd Street station, while the line was originally owned by the Illinois Central Railroad (IC). Once I changed my search to include the IC instead of Metra, I found something authoritative: a JSTOR archive of an article by an IC employee about the history of the IC. In that article, I learned a lot. The station was originally at 22nd Street and served both long-distance trains as well as commuter trains. Also, after the Great Chicago Fire inflicted major damage on the main station downtown, 22nd Street was the closest station with full service (such as buying tickets and checking bags). Then, in 1926 the station was moved a block south to 23rd Street, its current location.

Once I hit that point, I still couldn’t find any sources about the redevelopment of the station in conjunction with McCormick Place. With some creative Google Searches, I eventually found one source giving me the information I needed: an article in Plastics News about attending an event at McCormick Place and how Metra made it easier to get there. While it was a somewhat improbable source, it was something commercially published, giving me the missing link in the history.

This ends my monthlong search for articles about the history of the McCormick Place Station. It certainly took me a lot of interesting places around the internet.

Update: Later on I noticed that the Metra article showed the picture I used in the McCormick Place article as its headline picture in the infobox. I looked up the editor who did it, and it was some anonymous editor whose IP traces to Homewood, which happens to be on the same line. I first posted that picture on Wikipedia back in November, but the edit to the Metra article appears to be on February 5, just before I made the history edits to the McCormick Place Station article described here. Interesting.

Reflections on the Scratch Wiki

I have been a major figure on the Scratch Wiki for a long time, though since coming to college I have been much less active due to other commitments. I first joined the Wiki on March 9, 2012, and have gained a lot of experiences in my time there.

My Beginnings on the Wiki

I first joined the Wiki in 2012 as a regular editor back in the days of Scratch 1.4, with my main intention just being to improve the article on Mod Share (a project on which I was a developer at the time). I made my necessary edits, and then also started editing other articles where I saw potential for improvement. I remained in that capacity for a while, until the release of Scratch 2.0.

Scratch 2.0 and user registration

When Scratch 2.0 was released, the existing account registration system (which depended on a user verification API in Scratch 1.4) no longer functioned. The Scratch Team announced that at some future date they would implement OAuth to allow other websites to link their account systems to Scratch’s, but did not give any specific date to expect it. Meanwhile, over at Mod Share, we had the same problem, also depending on that API. After discussing the situation with LS97 (the other Mod Share developer), we figured the best solution would be to verify users by having them comment a verification code on a project and then checking if they posted the comment. Once the system was successfully implemented on Mod Share (my code quality has improved since then, I promise), I contacted the Scratch Team asking if they would like me to implement a similar system on the Wiki. They ended up agreeing, so I got my hands dirty with developing a MediaWiki extension. I ended up modifying an existing extension, ConfirmAccount by Aaron Schulz, adding the comment verification to it (GitHub link). This allowed the Wiki to maintain the existing system of requiring users to request accounts while verifying (automatically) that users requested accounts corresponding to their Scratch accounts. As part of the implementation, I was given a new title, Experienced Wikian (developed specifically as a result of this new extension). In a nutshell, I had elevated privileges over normal users (most importantly being able to process account requests), but was below an administrator.

Becoming more active

With my role in implementing the account request system, I became much more active on the Wiki. I processed the majority of account requests to the Wiki for a while, and also was fairly active in maintaining the quality of the articles as well as the community. As time went on, the other active staff members mostly moved on to other things, and I became a de facto leader.

Moving On

As I started college, I knew I wouldn’t have as much time for the Wiki as I did before. I continued to help in the capacity I could, but knew time was coming to pass on the reins to someone else. I am proud to report that the Wiki still continues on and is going strong.

Transferring Ownership

In the winter 2018, the Wiki was officially transferred from Scratch Team ownership to being an independent project. This gave us a lot more freedom, especially the ability to install extensions and otherwise modify configuration ourselves as well as more moderation powers (specifically blocking users). While before all of these requests had to go through the Scratch Team which often took a while, now we could act unilaterally as necessary. In this time, many software improvements were made and all of the Wikis in different languages became part of a single ecosystem.


To this day, the Wiki continues to be an active community maintaining high-quality articles describing Scratch. To have continued this through over a decade and through several rounds of leaders is a testament to the spirit of the project.

I have certainly learned a lot over my time on the Wiki. It is a very unique kind of project, maintaining fairly high quality standards while largely being maintained by people in the 10-15 year old range. The most important lesson I learned was the importance of remaining calm and civil. One core policy of the Wiki is assuming good faith. In essence, that means that unless there’s obvious evidence to the contrary, assume that a user’s actions were made with an intent to help, or at at the very least, without the intention to harm the Wiki. Thus, while it is easy to endlessly criticize users for violations of Wiki guidelines, such as making articles about users, editing others’ userpages, creating duplicate pages, among a million other things, it was more important to help them. Almost every user (including myself) received a talk page message in their first few edits explaining that one of their edits had been undone or a page deleted because of some violation of Wiki guidelines. Rather than treating that as a warning, it was important to treat those as opportunities for improvement. In fact, I wanted to encourage users to be bold with their edits, since the best way to learn is by doing.

We also managed to maintain a semi-democratic system on the Wiki that has worked surprisingly well. The guidelines explicitly state that the Wiki is a collaborative effort, and we did our best to maintain that. I viewed my job (most of the time) as facilitating a discussion rather than making a decision myself. While I did have the final say, I rarely invoked that and instead went off of community consensus and established guidelines (which were also largely community-developed). Whenever possible, I tried to act as a normal editor rather than an administrator or authority figure (the one significant exception being in handling account requests, where that wasn’t really possible).

We did have a number of incidents on the Wiki, but compared to most other online communities they were fairly uncommon. I attribute this to a few things:

  • High barrier to entry: users had to submit an account request to join, and in that request they had to put forth a significant amount of effort (see the next paragraph)
  • High level of commitment: the community was based on maintaining high-quality articles, so most users who were not committed to that left on their own
  • Collaborative effort: we all were working towards a common goal and helped each other out wherever possible

Evolution of the Account Request System

The account request system changed dramatically throughout my time on the Wiki. When I first joined, the system essentially just required users to somehow describe how they would help on the Wiki. We then changed the system somewhat to require that users name specific articles they would improve and how they would improve those articles. Still, many requests did not meet the requirements, and we had little success in changing the requirements to join in such a way that more people would read them fully.

Eventually, Turkey3 had the idea of radically changing the account request system in a way that would be clearer. Instead of requiring users to search through the Wiki, we required them to look through an example article with a number of mistakes and then provide suggestions on both what mistakes to fix and also what they would add to the article. The quality of requests generally increased after that point, and we have maintained that system ever since.


As I continue on my journey in life, I am very proud of the work I did for the Scratch Wiki. I am also extremely proud of all the contributors who have helped maintain the project and continue to do so. It is an extremely valuable resource for helping kids learn Scratch and also helping more advanced users expand their capabilities. It also serves as a place for the Scratch community to collectively store its knowledge, even as individual members come and go, allowing anyone to learn about ideas that no active user may be able to help with.