I have conquered the North Side Main!

Over the span of a year and four months (March 10, 2019 to July 5, 2020), I have taken photos of every station on the North Side Main Line, from Merchandise Mart to Howard. This all started on my spring break trip during my junior year of college, where I visited Chicago. That trip was mostly focused on downtown, but at one point on March 10, 2019 I did find myself at Sheridan station:

Platform sign at Sheridan
My first published photo on the North Side Main Line, at Sheridan

I also got some pictures of the Merchandise Mart station on that trip, since that’s a major landmark in Chicago and located near downtown:

Platforms at Merchandise Mart
My first published photo of the Merchandise Mart station

All the rest of that trip I got photos of other stations in/around downtown, including areas like the Milwaukee–Dearborn Subway, the State Street Subway, and the Loop. I went all the way out to the end of the northern leg of the Milwaukee–Dearborn Subway up at Division, but never went anywhere north of the river on the State Street Subway.

Blue Line platform at Division
Division Station on the Blue Line

As it would turn out, that would be my last time photographing Chicago with my Canon camera. The next time I was in Chicago was for my interview with BlueBolt, by which time I had my newer and more powerful Olympus camera, and managed to get a few photos along the way.

O'Hare station from the main entrance
O’Hare Station

Once I had the job and started looking for an apartment, I knew approximately where I wanted to be (Uptown/Edgewater area), so for my spring break trip my senior year I returned to Chicago to scope out apartments in that area. Unlike the previous trip, where most of it was downtown, this was mostly focused on the North Side. I stayed up in Rogers Park, and got around via the Red Line. I got plenty more photos of the North Side Main on that trip, taking photos as I traveled to visit apartments. I needed my camera to photograph the apartments, anyway.

Northbound track at Jarvis
Jarvis Station
Northbound track at Granville
Granville Station
Northbound tracks at Bryn Mawr
Bryn Mawr Station
Looking north on the southbound tracks at Thorndale
Thorndale Station
Looking northbound at Belmont
Belmont Station

I also got some pictures of various other stations along the way, some of which I was headed to anyway for various reasons, and some of which I specifically went to for the purpose of photographing. Since this was during my spring break, I couldn’t really choose the weather. Some days were good, but some were also cloudy. However, I knew I was going to be living in Chicago in a few months, so that didn’t really bother me.

Once I moved to Chicago in May, I didn’t really get out much due to the stay-at-home order. Even after it was lifted, I limited how much I went out since I didn’t particularly want to catch COVID-19 or spread it to others. Also, my primary focus for photography was on the parts I could access without going downtown (to avoid crowding), which is to say the North Side Main, Ravenswood Branch, Evanston Branch, and Skokie Branch. Progress initially started slow, but over time I got photos of more and more stations. I started with stations like Wilson, Bryn Mawr, and Howard, but also went up to Linden and down to Belmont:

Southbound Red Line track at Wilson
Wilson Station
Northbound Red Line platform at Belmont
Belmont Station
Looking south at Bryn Mawr
Bryn Mawr Station
Southbound platform at Howard
Howard Station

However, this most recent weekend, since I had a long weekend due to July 4th, I figured I could make use of a three day pass, my extra free time, and a period of good weather to get as many photos as possible. As an added bonus, due to the holiday weekend, crowding was pretty low. I made it my goal to finish with pictures of every station on the North Side Main, which I accomplished by Sunday. Here’s a picture of each station that hasn’t been included earlier in this post:

Southbound Brown/Purple Line platform at Chicago
Chicago Station
Northbound platform at Sedgwick
Sedgwick Station
Back of a northbound Red Line train bypassing Armitage
Armitage Station
Red Line tracks and end of the canopy at Fullerton
Fullerton Station
Northbound platform at Diversey
Diversey Station
Southbound Red Line train bypassing Wellington
Wellington Station
Top of the escalator at Addison
Addison Station
Northbound tracks at Lawrence
Lawrence Station
Argyle station from the street
Argyle Station
South end of Berwyn platform
Berwyn Station

Somehow when I visited Chicago to scope out apartments, I didn’t get any pictures of Morse, which is the station I was staying closest to. I guess in how busy I was with getting places from there, I never thought to get out my camera. I also only realized that as I was putting this post together on July 4 (I had just assumed I took photos of the station I was using frequently for a week), so the next day I headed out with my camera to get photos there and fill in the gap. So, to finish off the set, here’s photos of the remaining stations:

Southbound tracks at Morse
Morse Station
Center tracks at Howard
Howard Station

I also have conquered the Skokie Branch (Yellow Line), since in my quest to photograph Morse, I also went to Oakton–Skokie, having already photographed Dempster–Skokie during my apartment expedition. I will at some point go photograph Dempster–Skokie during the day though.

Looking south on the platform at Oakton-Skokie
Oakton–Skokie Station
Dempster-Skokie from the parking lot
Dempster–Skokie Station

So with that, I’ve hit a major milestone in photographing the Chicago L! I’m warily watching news reports about COVID-19, and if it flares up in Chicago again (so far it hasn’t, but could any day), that’ll put the kibosh on my transit photography for a while. Even if it stays at the level it is, I’m going to avoid going through downtown in order to avoid the highest crowding, limiting my photography to the Ravenswood and Evanston Branches.