Touring an abandoned prison

Today I took a trip down the Joliet Correctional Center in, you guessed it, Joliet. It was an active maximum security Illinois state prison from 1858 to 2002 and held a number of well-known inmates, including Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, Baby Face Nelson, John Wayne Gacy, and most famous of all, Jake Blues. It’s interesting that the most famous inmate is fictional.

To get there, I took the Metra Rock Island District to Joliet, then a Pace bus. Of course I got some pictures of the Metra station on the way:

Front of a waiting Rock Island District train at Joliet
The train that took me to Joliet
Rock Island District waiting room at Joliet
Waiting area
Rock Island District train at Joliet from the Amtrak/Heritage Corridor platform
Amtrak/Heritage Corridor platform
Joliet station building from across the street
Station building

Then, I went into the prison on a tour. It was definitely very eerie being in there. The building is a little worse for wear (it was closed due in part to being in poor condition and has seen virtually no maintenance in the intervening two decades). You can see all of the photos I deemed worthy of publication in my Flickr album, but keep reading to see a selection of them with more detailed descriptions.

We entered via the eastern gate where Jake Blues famously walked out. According to the tour guide the gate was actually welded shut, they only opened it after the film company bribed the warden to let them use it and have a crew break the welding. Even then, they only got one shot and five minutes.

Along the path from that gate were the industry buildings to the north and a few other buildings like inmate intake processing to the south.

Industry buildings at the Joliet Prison
Industry buildings (or what’s left of them after severe fire damage)
Industries building at the Joliet Prison
Another burned out industry building
Auto shop building at the Joliet Prison
Burned out auto shop building
Joliet Prison inmate processing building
Inmate intake processing building (also burned out)
Joliet Prison water cistern
Water cistern

We then headed to the solitary confinement building, which had solitary confinement cells on the first floor and death row cells on the second.

Joliet Prison solitary confinement building
Solitary confinement building
Joliet Prison solitary confinement building side view
Solitary confinement building – the windows here were the cell windows at the top of the cells
Joliet Prison original cell interior
Original cell (preserved), apparently three people were held at a time in these cells
"It's never too late to mend" at the Joliet Prison in the solitary confinement building
“It’s never too late! To mend.” (I wonder if that was always there or added because of the Blues Brothers)
Joliet Prison solitary confinement building lower level
Solitary confinement cellblock
Solitary confinement cell at the Joliet Prison
Solitary confinement cell (there was also a toilet-sink unit to the right)
Death row cells at the Joliet Prison
Death row cellblock
Death row cell at the Joliet Prison
Death row cell

Then we headed into the cafeteria building, which was segregated by race into north and south cafeterias (I don’t know/remember which one was which). The north cafeteria in particular included some interesting Simpsons-based graffiti.

Joliet Prison north cafeteria
North cafeteria
Chief Wiggum graffiti at the north cafeteria at the Joliet Prison
Chief Wiggum graffiti in the north cafeteria
Joliet Prison south cafeteria
South cafeteria
Kitchen at the Joliet Prison cafeteria

Then we left to head towards the cell house, passing by (but not entering) the gymnasium.

Joliet Prison gymnasium entrance
Gymnasium entrance

The tour guide then let one of the people on the tour open the door to the east cell house.

Man opening the east cell house door at the Joliet Prison
Man opening the cell house door
Cell block at the Joliet Prison east cell house
Eastern cell house cell block
Cell in the west cell house at the Joliet Prison
Eastern cell house cell

Apparently the eastern cell house cells had beds removed post-closing for maintenance reasons. Also a sobering fact that the left portion of the ceiling in the cell block was added to prevent inmates from trying to jump to their deaths, with apparently as many as three suicides per day.

We then left the cell block and walked by the hospital but couldn’t enter it.

Front of the hospital at the Joliet Prison
Front hallway of the Joliet Prison hospital
Entrance to the hospital

We then entered the western cell house, which apparently housed inmates that were disliked even by the other inmates (use your imagination).

Cell in the west cell house at the Joliet Prison
Cell in the western cell house (including a bed this time)
Cell block in the west cell house of the Joliet Prison
Cell block in the western cell house

Here, note the closed doors instead of bars. Apparently this was to avoid inmates throwing stuff at the guards. The inmates here were so disliked that they even had their own yard to avoid contact with other inmates.

West cell house yard at the Joliet Prison
Western cell block yard

We then passed the school and headed towards the chapel.

School building entrance at the Joliet Prison
Entrance to the school building
Chapel stage at the Joliet Prison
Chapel stage (it’s hard to see in this photo but many of the glass panes were missing)
Confession booths at the Joliet Prison chapel
Confession booths
Joliet Prison chapel seating area
Seating area
Joliet Prison chapel
Chapel entrance

It’s hard to see in the photos but the ceiling was in pretty bad shape due to apparently the roof being struck by lightning.

We then walked by a few other buildings to conclude the tour.

Joliet Prison library building
Library building
Joliet Prison laundry facility
Laundry machines
Joliet Prison sally port
Sally port

We then left via the eastern gate via which we entered.

Joliet Prison eastern gate
Eastern gate

I don’t really have much to say, I think the pictures speak for themselves. It was a very interesting tour.

Five lines done!

I have now photographed every station on five of the eight lines of the L: Blue, Brown, Orange, Purple, and Yellow! Of the three remaining lines I have eleven stations left if I’m counting correctly.

My most recent expedition was to photograph the rest of the Blue Line, and in keeping with the blue theme the sky also was a very deep blue. I photographed the rest of the Congress Branch:

Inbound track at Pulaski (Blue), looking east
Inbound track at Kedzie-Homan, looking west
Platform at Western (Blue - Forest Park), looking west
Western (Congress Branch)
Inbound platform at Illinois Medical District, looking west
Illinois Medical District
Platform at Racine, looking outbound
Inbound platform at UIC-Halsted, looking east

In particular I got one very nice photo at UIC-Halsted, juxtaposing the station with the downtown skyline:

UIC-Halsted from Morgan Street
UIC-Halsted from Morgan Street

I also photographed Washington, which somehow I had never photographed all this time despite its central location:

Platform at Washington, looking north

I also photographed two abandoned stations along the Congress Branch in the process:

California (Blue) from California Avenue
Kostner (Blue), looking west from pedestrian bridge

Then I headed up to Logan Square to get lunch, and on the way home photographed the new flooring at Chicago:

Platform at Chicago (Blue), looking northwest
New flooring at Chicago

Compare this to the flooring in 2019:

Blue Line platform at Chicago
Flooring at Chicago in 2019

Definitely an improvement, looked like they were doing the same thing at Grand and Division too.

Honestly not much more to say, this was just a status update and some more pictures. Eleven stations to go if I’m counting correct, and I’ll hopefully get them done in short order.

Bringing it full circle

Two weeks ago, I returned to Cleveland for the first time since being kicked off campus in March 2020. As part of this trip, I did a bit more photography on the RTA. My main focus was on things that had been renovated since I had left (specifically East 79th on the Red Line, the improved tracks at Tower City, and Farnsleigh). However, I also got new and improved photographs of Cedar-University and Little Italy-University Circle as part of the adventure.

I arrived mid morning at Little Italy-University Circle, one of the first stations I photographed during my time at CWRU by virtue of it being right by campus. Most of my photos of that station were from freshman year, when my photography skills were nowhere near what they are now. Here’s an example:

Little Italy-University Circle Platform looking Outbound
Photo of the Little Italy-University Circle station I took in 2016

Compare with a photo from this time:

Outbound track at Little Italy-University Circle, looking north
Photo of Little Italy-University Circle from 2021

Definitely an improvement: better lighting (I got lucky with the weather admittedly), better angling of the camera, etc.

From there I went to Cedar-University, one stop down the line, and serving the southern portion of the CWRU campus. The story was similar to Little Italy for the most part: my photos from 2016 weren’t the best quality due to my inexperience. However, also important was that Cedar-University had a major bus loop attached which I never photographed.

First, see a typical photo of that station from 2016:

Cedar-University platform looking outbound 4
Photo of the Cedar-University station from 2016

Now compare with a photo taken in 2021:

Outbound track at Cedar-University
Photo of the platform at Cedar-University taken in 2021

Much better lighting (once again lucked out with the weather, but also knew to photograph in the middle of the day instead of in the evening as I did with the first photo), better angles, all that.

Then, I photographed the bus loop which I somehow never did in my four years at CWRU:

Northern bus loop platform at Cedar-University
Bus loop at Cedar-University

Having finished there, I started the main focus of my expedition, photographing the stations renovated since I had left Cleveland. First, I went to East 79th. For reference, here’s what the station used to look like:

Looking westbound from East 79th
Platform at East 79th in 2016

The station at the time was a pretty simple affair: a staircase (behind where I’m standing with the camera) and a wooden platform with a basic bus-like shelter and a roof. The renovations, on the other hand, significantly improved it:

Outbound track at East 79th (Red), looking east
Renovated East 79th station platform in 2021
Platform at East 79th (Red) from the entrance ramp
Renovated East 79th platform in 2021 from across the track
Street entrance to East 79th (Red) from the north
New entrance to East 79th in 2021

The new station has a concrete platform, a ramp for ADA accessibility, new signage, a significantly improved roof, and a much better-looking entrance. Overall it is a significantly improved passenger experience from the original. It did add one interesting twist though, a grade crossing. For a while the only grade crossing on the Red Line was at Brookpark, where passengers had to cross a track to reach the platform. Renovations at the station in 2016-2017 removed that grade crossing and replaced it with a tunnel under the track, but later on one was added at East 34th which saw a similar renovation to East 79th, including a set of ramps on the adjacent hillside.

Grade crossing at East 79th (Red) from the entrance
Grade crossing to access the platform at East 79th

From there I headed to Tower City. When I was a freshman at CWRU in 2016, they replaced the northern track, which resulted in westbound trains going to a temporary station on a normally non-revenue track. They did the same thing again to replace the southern track, and the work was completed prior to my arrival. Here is what the track looked like prior to renovation:

Eastbound platform at Tower City looking west 1
Old eastbound track at Tower City in 2016

After several years with a new northern track but retaining the old southern and stub tracks, they were all replaced. Here are the new and improved tracks:

New westbound Red Line track at Tower City in 2021
New eastbound track at Tower City in 2021
New stub Red Line track at Tower City in 2021
Red Line stub track at Tower City in 2021

Meanwhile, the Blue and Green Lines were not operating due to an eight week construction project shutting down the lines entirely, with them being replaced by shuttle buses in the meantime. However, I did notice that the ceiling had been removed:

Waterfront Line platform at Tower City
Old platform ceiling at Tower City in 2018
Westbound Red Line platform at Tower City in 2021
Platform with ceiling removed at Tower City in 2021

I don’t know the reasoning for removing the ceiling, and whether it’s temporary or permanent, but it definitely takes away some of the character of the station. I hope it will be added back. Given that a lot of the mall above was temporarily closed for construction, it wouldn’t be surprising if that were another part of the construction.

From there I took the shuttle bus out to Farnsleigh. Here’s what it looked like prior to renovation:

Both platforms at Farnsleigh
Farnsleigh station in 2016

It’s a pretty basic median station on the Blue Line with two platforms and a shelter. Now see it post-renovation from approximately the same viewpoint:

Tracks at Farnsleigh, looking west
Farnsleigh station in 2021

Notice the mini-high platforms for wheelchair accessibility and the new shelters. Definitely an improvement, and a big win for the ADA. I wonder if the manufacturer of those shelters will steal my photos again

Heading back to Cleveland was a nice experience, and this photo expedition brought things full circle. I got to see the stations I first photographed when I was still fairly inexperienced and bring to it a new camera and better skills. It really shows how far I’ve come in photography and also brings some closure to my time in Cleveland which was sadly cut short by the pandemic. I’ll definitely be back there another day, and it’ll be nice to see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same then. According to the RTA website, no new station renovations are planned, though they do intend to replace their railcar fleet.

On the home stretch for a multiyear project

My ongoing project to photograph the Chicago L unofficially started on March 9, 2019, when I took a spring break trip to the city, unaware I’d live there a year and a half later. The first photo taken in Chicago (at least that I deemed worth publishing) is this one, of the entrance to Millennium Station:

Entrance to Millennium Station
Entrance to Millennium Station at Randolph and Michigan

Interestingly, the first four train stations I photographed in Chicago were all Metra, on March 9, 2019: Millennium Station, McCormick Place, 55th-56th-57th Street, and Museum Campus/11th Street. The situation there was I was going to the Museum of Science and Industry but stopped at McCormick Place along the way to photograph it, and then headed back to 11th Street to visit the Field Museum. The first photo I took and deemed worthy of publication on the L was at Adams/Wabash:

Adams/Wabash station after some rain
Adams/Wabash platform

The date on Flickr is listed as March 10, but it was actually taken very late on March 9 since my camera was still set on Eastern Time due to coming from Cleveland. Little did I know that this would start my most ambitious photography project so far. I photographed a number of stations in/near downtown as part of that trip, and then returned to Cleveland.

In December 2020 I flew out to Chicago to interview for the company that ended up hiring me, and photographed two stations: O’Hare (where I flew in) and Chicago (Red) (near my hotel).

In March 2020, I had been hired for my current job in Chicago and came back to visit apartments. At that point I knew I would be moving here and had in the back of my mind that I eventually wanted to photograph all the L stations. I stayed in Rogers Park (near Morse) and toured apartments all over the north side. I photographed a number of stations in the process, but knew I would come back.

Since then, I have photographed all but about 25 stations. I have photographed all stations on the Loop, North Side Main, Ravenswood Branch, State Subway, Kennedy/O’Hare Branch, Evanston Branch, Skokie Branch, Englewood/Ashland Branch, and Jackson Park/East 63rd Branch. I also have photographed all but one station on the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway and at least half of the stations on the Dan Ryan Branch, Cermak Branch, South Side Elevated, and Congress Branch. The big ones remaining are the Lake Street Elevated (just under half done) and Midway Branch. I am taking advantage of every good weather opportunity I get, so with any luck I will have this in the bag soon. If not, I’m not in any hurry. Once this is done, it will be without a doubt my most ambitious photography project so far.

I’m not sure what will come next – maybe photographing as much of Metra as I can? I’m not sure how realistic photographing every Metra station is given that there are over 200 of them and Metra doesn’t run anywhere near as frequently as the L (I don’t have a car) and some lines don’t run at at all on weekends.

Chicago Auto Show!

The Chicago Auto Show is usually in February, but got postponed until in 2021 due to the COVID situation. I went and checked it out, and it was a pretty cool experience.

They had cars from most major car brands, and a few brands even had live demonstrations. I was able to ride in demonstrations for RAM Trucks and Jeep, which were pretty cool:

"Camp Jeep" incline at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show
Jeep incline demonstration
"Camp Jeep" ground clearance demonstration at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show
Jeep ground clearance demosntration
"Camp Jeep" unevenness demonstration at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show
Jeep uneven surface demonstration
Ram truck banked turn at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show
RAM Truck banked turn demonstration

Other than that, I don’t really have much to say, just some pictures, of which a selection is below. You can view them all here.

Bentley Flying Spur at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show
Bentley Flying Spur
Honda CR-V at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show
Honda CR-V
Volkswagen ID.4 at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show
Electric Volkswagen ID.4
Bentley Continental GT at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show
Bentley Continental GT
Subaru Outback at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show
Subaru Outback
Toyota Prius Prime at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show
Toyota Prius Prime

I did get a pretty cool souvenir at the gift shop though, a replica US-66 sign:

Replica US-66 sign

When I was waiting in line to experience the RAM truck, one of the brand reps saw me holding the sign and asked me if I’ve ever been on US-66. I must have made him feel old when I pointed out that it was decommissioned before I was born. I have been on “Historic Route 66” in Arizona though.

Fireworks and a trip to Milwaukee

I have been to Milwaukee a number of times in my life, as I have family that has lived there in the past. However, this was my first time traveling there for non-family reasons. I just wanted to get out of dodge for a bit and also experience the Hiawatha.

It was a bit tough finding a time for this to work, since I wanted to be in Chicago for the Fourth of July (more on that in a bit). I also needed a time when it was going to be sunny, and I didn’t want to take more than two days off work. I ended up choosing the Monday-Wednesday after July 4 (July 5-7), since I already got the Monday off anyway, and the weather looked favorable.

In the meantime, it looked like Chicago cancelled the fireworks, so I looked at options in the suburbs. It ended up looking like Wilmette was my best option since I could easily get there on the Purple Line. However, when I was downtown on July 3, I saw a service alert indicating that there would be restrictions on carrying bikes and strollers on the L in the evening, leading me to check again the firework situation. It turned out that much like when they announced they cancelled the annual dyeing of the Chicago River for St. Patrick’s Day then did it anyway, they did the same for the fireworks and uncancelled them. My guess is that they did so to avoid people traveling from out of the area and also that gave them leeway to make a decision based on case numbers at the time. They did somewhat modify the firework setup, not having a singular viewing area but instead having a seven mile long stretch along the lakeshore where they could be viewed (using bigger and higher fireworks to accomplish this). I thus changed my plans and went downtown, and watched from just north of Museum Campus since that seemed to be approximately in the middle of the viewing area. The fireworks were pretty awesome, just a bit odd having the sound lag behind the visual due to the distance.

Fourth of July fireworks in Chicago

Then, on Monday, I hopped on the 1:05pm Hiawatha to Milwaukee from Chicago Union Station. Union Station was a lot more chaotic than I expected, I guess people are starting to travel again.

Hiawatha Cabbage car at Chicago Union Station
“Cabbage” (cab+baggage) unit at the back of the Hiawatha at Chicago Union Station

From there everything seemed to go smoothly until somewhere just north of the Wisconsin border, we stopped. After a few minutes, the conductor announced that there was a “vehicle on the tracks” and that they were being “inspected for damage.” My first thought was that we hit a car. However, I didn’t hear any crashes (I was two cars from the front of the train), and I checked Google Maps and didn’t see any traffic advisories in the area.

View out the window from near where we stopped

After about ten minutes they announced that they had moved the vehicle so it only blocked the northbound track, so we just needed to wait for a southbound train to clear the area so we could go around it on the southbound track. After about five more minutes, the southbound Hiawatha passed us and we were moving again. We ended up only being about fifteen minutes late, nothing terrible. From there, I photographed the train in Milwaukee:

Hiawatha at Milwaukee Intermodal Station
My train at Milwaukee Intermodal Center

I also photographed the Marquette Interchange, a famously obnoxious traffic interchange:

Marquette Interchange from the southeast
Marquette Interchange

A friend of mine from middle school met me at the station, and we walked around for a bit and got an early dinner at the Brat House, where he got a burger and I got the “southsider,” a bratwurst with melted cheddar, jalapenos, and bacon. It was pretty delicious and a good introduction to Milwaukee. I also got a picture of the Milwaukee river from the park where we ate our dinner:

Milwaukee River looking south from State Street bridge
Milwaukee River from State Street

The Milwaukee River and all the drawbridges was definitely a reminder of Chicago, giving a nice familiar vibe. After that, we parted ways and I continued exploring the city. I scoped out a skyline photography spot, Veterans Park, and determined it would probably be good after the sun set. While waiting for the sun to go down, I got some ice cream and then went back to the hotel to rest my legs for a bit. Then, as dusk approached, I headed back out and caught the “The Hop,” the Milwaukee downtown streetcar, at Wisconsin Avenue and took it to Burns Commons.

The Hop waiting at Burns Commons
The Hop streetcar at Burns Commons

After getting off the streetcar, I walked over to Veterans Park again. This time I did not forget my tripod, so I was able to get some good long-exposure shots. This was probably my best one:

Milwaukee skyline at night from Veterans Park
Downtown Milwaukee skyline at night from Veterans Park

Then, pretty exhausted from all the walking, I headed back to the hotel and called it a night.

The next day I hit the ground running, so to speak. Due to COVID measures, the hotel wasn’t serving breakfast, so I went to the Canary Coffee Bar and got a muffin and chai tea, both of which were great. The weather indicated it was going to be sunny in the morning but cloud over later in the day, so I took the morning for some more photography. Importantly, all my photos from the lakeshore needed to be in the morning anyway so the sun would be behind me. Naturally, I started with photographing the streetcar:

Train at Wisconsin Avenue Southbound
The Hop streetcar at Wisconsin Avenue southbound

I took it to Burns Commons again and got a daytime photo from Veterans Park again.

Milwaukee skyline from Veterans Park
Milwaukee skyline from Veterans Park during the day

I then walked down to Discovery World and got some photos from there.

Milwaukee skyline from Lakeshore State Park
Milwaukee skyline from Discovery World

I explored Downtown Milwaukee some more for a while, then figured I’d head up to Glendale to get frozen custard at Kopp’s. I took the bus up to Glendale and from there got Kopp’s. I’m finally old enough that if I say I’m having frozen custard for lunch, I’m having frozen custard for lunch. Kopp’s only has four flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and two rotating flavors (apparently there was only one rotating flavor at a time in the past). One of the rotating flavors when I was there was “grasshopper fudge,” which is a mint base with fudge chunks. I got a cup of that, which was also delicious.

Sign in front of Kopp’s

After having enjoyed my Kopp’s frozen custard, I caught the bus back downtown. It was starting to cloud over, so I figured that would be a good chance to check out the Grohmann museum, a museum about art related to labor and industry (and one of the only museums open on a Tuesday). The museum was pretty cool, featuring a rooftop sculpture garden and a massive amount of paintings. The paintings dated from the 17th century (that’s the earliest I remember anyway) to 2020 and featured all sorts of industries. Pretty cool museum, worth a visit.

After leaving the museum, I walked around downtown a bit. One particularly interesting detail is that The Hop isn’t electrified for its entire length, operating on battery power for one stretch. I caught a video of a streetcar raising its pantograph:

The Hop streetcar raising its pantograph at City Hall
Eastbound train at Historic Third Ward
The Hop streetcar at Historic Third Ward

Eventually, for dinner, I headed to the Milwaukee Public Market for dinner and got dinner at the Foltz Family Market, a BBQ cheddar burger with fries. Also amazing; I definitely ate well on this trip. After dinner, I walked around downtown for a while longer and photographed some more stuff.

Wells Street Bridge raised
Raised bridge at Wells Street
Milwaukee City Hall tower
Milwaukee City Hall

For my third and final day, I headed to Discovery World in the morning. I first visited it within a year of it opening, in the winter of 2006. It was interesting seeing it from the perspective of an adult vs. a kid and also what’s changed vs. what hasn’t changed. It’s still definitely a cool museum, featuring a bunch of different exhibits about science, technology, and engineering as well as an aquarium and an old restored ship. Also definitely a worthwhile trip for anyone traveling to Milwaukee.

After leaving Discovery World, I headed south to photograph the Allen-Bradley clock tower.

Allen-Bradley clock tower from the east
Allen-Bradley clock tower

It was cloudy so the colors were a bit dull, but I can only ask for so much. With that photo in the bag I started heading back downtown, only to be interrupted by a sudden onset of rain. Of course of all things I forgot to pack, I forgot my umbrella. I stood under a bridge for a while hoping to wait out the rain.

The underside of a bridge where I tried to wait out the rain

After about an hour under the bridge and the rain giving no signs of letting up, I figured I had to leave somehow. I ended up timing it so I was able to get to a nearby bus stop only about two minutes before the bus arrived, so I avoided being totally drenched. Once I got back downtown, I got dinner at Smoke Shack.

Smoke Shack

Being originally from North Carolina, I wanted to see what sort of barbecue game they had in Milwaukee. The building was clearly supposed to mimic the shacks you see down south, but unlike those this was definitely a well-constructed modern building, as opposed to an actual shack. This was definitely a more upscale place trying to pull off a “casual southern” vibe. All that aside, the food there (I got a pulled pork sandwich) was also excellent (as a former North Carolinian, I approve). I also got a “pecan pie in a glass” cocktail to go with my food:

“Pecan pie in a glass” cocktail

After finishing dinner, I waited out the rain a bit longer in the public market seating area, then headed back to the Amtrak station to catch the train home. Unlike the journey north, the journey south was pretty quiet. Very few people on the train. I guess that’s what happens with an evening train on a Wednesday.

Almost empty railcar

We pulled into Chicago Union Station right on time, but interestingly came in on one of the run-through tracks and unloaded on the southern side of the station.

Hiawatha and another Amtrak train at Chicago Union Station
Hiawatha (left) on the southern tracks of Chicago Union Station

My guess is that since this was the last run of the night, they were going to take it to the Amtrak yard, which is located south of Union Station. Anyway, I headed back home. Walking through downtown Chicago was a bit of a shock though, since I headed through several blocks surrounded by skyscrapers. While Milwaukee definitely had tall buildings, they are nowhere near as tall and there are nowhere near as many as in Chicago. Anyway, I made it to Monroe and caught the Red Line home.

Overall, a fun trip! This was my first major vacation in the past year, and it was nice to get out for a bit. Milwaukee is also a pretty cool city and while this wasn’t my first time there, it was my first time really experiencing the city itself rather than the city just being a meeting place.

Thou shalt not steal?

Today marks the first time I am writing on the topic of copyright infringement, especially as it relates to my photos. As basically every single other post on this blog makes clear, I take a lot of photos. In particular, I take photos of transit systems, especially the Chicago L, since, ya know, I live in Chicago. My long term goal is to photograph every station on the L, but in the meantime am nearly halfway there. Still, I have a pretty sweet collection of photos for the stations I have photographed. All photos I deem worthy of publication are on my Flickr, and I also have posted a number of photos on Wikipedia to improve the respective articles. For example, the article on the Bryn Mawr station includes photos from me:

Photo credit: screenshot of the Bryn Mawr station (CTA) Wikipedia Article

Anyway, where I’m going with all of this: I have a bunch of photos posted online. Most of my photos do not have any explicit license (i.e. I hold copyright and you need to contact me to use them for any reason that would not count as fair use), though a number of my photos (including all photos posted on Wikipedia) are available under the Creative Commons license. The Creative Commons license basically says “you can use this photo, but you have to give me appropriate credit.” Credit could be as simple as “Photo by Jacob G. from Wikipedia,” it doesn’t need to be anything crazy.

There have, however, been a number of people who have used my photos illegally. Here are some highlights.


I’ll start with the most egregious usage: Brasco, a manufacturer of bus shelters:

Page from the Brasco website, since taken down (screenshot under fair use as this is criticizing their site)

This is a page from the Brasco website. Apparently they make bus shelters (or, in this case, a shelter at a light rail station). They are using a fine example of their product, the shelter at the Lee-Shaker station westbound platform, which was installed as part renovations to the station were completed. Hey, that photo looks familiar! I wonder where it could be from…

Westbound shelter and wheelchair lift at Lee-Shaker
Lee-Shaker westbound platform, from my Flickr

Yup, they stole the photo from my Flickr (click the image for a link to the original). Obvious hints include the orange work zone sign and the car in the background. I don’t even know how they found the picture, but my guess is that they were just Googling for photos of the station and happened to find that, since it turns out there really aren’t many photos of that station out there (at the time I posted that photo, there was not a single other one I could find with a Google search). This photo was not posted to Wikipedia, so it is not available even under a Creative Commons license, so they could not use it without my permission except under fair use (which this definitely was not).

Anyway, as a result of this, I reported this case to Pixsy, a service that handles illegal corporate usages of photographs, and they were able to recover compensation for me.


There have been quite a few illegal usages of my photos on Twitter, I’ll just show the best one:

Tweet by Yana Kunichoff (available under fair use as criticism)

This tweet originally contained this photo of the Belmont Blue Line station, which now has been removed:

Overhead view of Belmont Blue Line station
Original photo, an overhead view of the CTA Belmont Blue Line station

The follow-up tweet which pretends to explain the original photo is just awesome. Every single part of it is a lie, let’s break them down:

  1. No it’s not a screen capture, it’s a still photo
  2. No it’s not “by you,” I took it
  3. The picture was not taken on a Friday, it was taken on March 12, 2020, a Thursday
  4. It was taken at about 4pm, not in the evening
  5. Trains were passing by every few minutes at the time I took that photo

Yana is obviously just exploiting my photo to get clicks by trying to make a clickbaity headline. There are plenty of legitimate problems with the CTA and Chicago that could be brought up, but apparently actually researching/investigating those was too hard so she just straight-up resorted to stealing someone else’s photo and lying in order to get clicks. She didn’t even look all that hard, she just yanked one off Wikipedia (but of course didn’t attribute it, since that would make it obvious she was lying). It’s extremely disappointing that someone would not only steal someone’s photo but then blatantly lie about it just to get clicks, but apparently that’s what some people will resort to.

Anyway, I filed a DMCA claim and the photo was removed from the tweet. Problem solved.

Beyond The Dalet

My personal favorite one is a case I discovered a few days ago where a blog known as “Beyond the Dalet” decided to steal one of my photos in an article titled “Stepping Thru the Dalet – Out of Fear and Into Confidence.” From what I can tell, the Dalet is a blog of a religious nature, maintained by a woman named Betty Hall, and the Dalet program is something of a religious nature that involves fostering a relationship with God and Jesus.

In this particular offending post, Betty Hall describes using the Dalet program to get over her fear of walking on the elevated platforms of the Chicago L. I wasn’t aware many people feared walking on those platforms, as most of them are fairly safe (with maybe Sheridan and Bryn Mawr being exceptions due to how deteriorated the wood is), but apparently Betty Hall did experience that fear. Through “intimacy with God,” she described her ability to overcome that fear and walk on the L platforms. She describes one station in particular, Chicago/Franklin, being daunting to her due to its longer platform and being located on a curve, and apparently swaying when trains passed over it. The north end of the platform indeed is on a gentle curve, but the platform is about 480 feet long according to Google Earth, while Merchandise Mart (the station immediately to the south) appears to have a platform that’s 470 feet long and Sedgwick (the station immediately to the north) appears to have a platform that’s 450 feet long, so I’m not sure why she thinks it’s so much longer than the others when the actual difference is in the ballpark of 30 feet (since I measured this with Google Earth my measurements are definitely not perfect). The factual error about the length of the platform notwithstanding, all’s well and good. However, she decided that it would be good to illustrate what the station looked like by using a photo. Here is the relevant paragraph:

Offending section where my photo of the Chicago/Franklin station was stolen (photo used under fair use as criticism)

Hey, haven’t I seen that photo before? Well yes I have! I took it!

Southbound Brown/Purple Line platform at Chicago
The original photo, featuring the southbound platform at Chicago/Franklin

Well, what better place to find a photo than Wikipedia, right? She decided to use this photo from the article about the Chicago/Franklin station. The photo is licensed under Creative Commons, so of course she’s welcome to use it as long as she provides attribution. One problem: I don’t see any attribution. The photo also does not link to the original in any way. Strangely, she did provide credit for some other photos in the article, which seem to be stock images she got from Apparently she figured that since it’s on Wikipedia that means you can use an image and claim it as your own? Well, it doesn’t work like that, so I submitted a DMCA claim to WordPress (her site is actually hosted by WordPress, unlike this site which runs on WordPress but is hosted independently). Within 24 hours, they handled the claim and the image was removed:

The offending section after the image was removed (photo used under fair use as criticism)

Not only has the image been removed, but it has been replaced by a large warning sign, clearly indicating something was wrong and pretty hard to ignore.

I post my Chicago L pictures online for viewing free of charge to showcase my photography and show what the L looks like. In particular I post pictures on Wikipedia so when people read about stations, they have a nice visual. It is not my intention that they be used to promote anything religious. While you are welcome to do that under the Creative Commons license (for photos that are available under that license), you still have to provide attribution, and not providing any attribution is implying you took the photo yourself, which clearly Betty did not do. So, I handled the situation, and the situation has been remedied.

It’s also of course disappointing that she posted in the name of a religion that believes strongly in the Ten Commandments, one of which is “Thou shalt not steal.” Yet, she stole my photo. Simply because it’s not a physical good, or because she probably didn’t directly profit off it (though possibly did use it as a recruitment tool for Dalet, though without looking further into that blog, which I really don’t feel like doing, I can’t be sure) doesn’t make it ok. It’s still stealing, and it’s still immoral and illegal. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean you can use it however you want. It’s not your photo, I’m just allowing you to use it. However, this still means you have to use it under my terms (in this case the terms of the Creative Commons license).

Sometimes, showing up is half the battle

At around 6pm today (June 7, 2021), a Purple Line train derailed just south of Bryn Mawr. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, and there wasn’t any major damage that I’m aware of from what I saw either in person or on the news.

Living in that area put me in a unique position to photograph the aftermath. While I was obviously not there photographing at the exact moment of the derailment, I was able to get some photos not long afterwards. I still can’t afford a drone and use a stepladder instead, which did limit my photographic capabilities, but I made do.

Specifically, the second car of the train derailed. The cars behind it and the front car seemed to remain on the tracks. The tracks on elevated structures have an additional rail in the middle for the purpose of keeping derailed trains from falling off the structure:

Track construction at Bryn Mawr
An example of tracks with the extra rail used to keep trains from falling off the elevated structure

Anyway, without further ado, here are some pictures:

Back of a derailed train south of Bryn Mawr
Back of the derailed train

I then headed to a parking lot by the site of the derailment, and while I was walking there they removed the four rear cars of the train that did not derail:

Derailed car on the North Side Main south of Bryn Mawr
Derailed car (the back car in the picture)

You can definitely see that the rear car in the picture is not properly lined up with the front car.

Later that evening, they re-railed the train and brought a “rescue train” to pull the affected cars back to the Howard Yard.

Derailed Chicago L train with rescue train
Derailed then re-railed cars (right) with the rescue train (left)

They then restored power to the affected cars:

Power restored to the derailed train
Internal lights aren’t on, but an external blue light is on

I attempted to take a video of the coupling of the rescue train to the derailed cars, but another train passed by in the process (a number of trains passed by on the other track during this time, presumably the trains that were taken out of service as a result of the derailment).

Finally, I got a video of the rescue train pulling the derailed cars away from the scene, presumably to the Howard Yard to be inspected.

Affected railcars being hauled back to the Howard Yard by the rescue train

From there, a number of CTA workers were looking at the site of the derailment with flashlights to see if there was an obvious cause in the track, such as a broken rail.

This was an interesting event to see unfold. Thankfully nobody was hurt and there doesn’t seem to be any major damage (any damage would just be to the one railcar, and even that would probably just be to the trucks, and any damage to the structure would just be the rails in that one spot). This was also one of my first times being able to document something like this in real time, the only other similar things being the last day of operation at 11th Street in Michigan City and the opening of the temporary stations at Argyle and Bryn Mawr. Hopefully I will get more chances to document interesting things in real time, though hopefully they won’t be derailments.

The start of something big in Uptown and Edgewater

Two weeks after heading to Michigan City for a station about to close for reconstruction, two other stations closed for reconstruction, this time much closer to me. At midnight on Sunday, May 16, 2021, the North Side Main Line started heavy construction for the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project. This is, to put it lightly, a massive project. They will be rebuilding the track structure between Lawrence and Bryn Mawr (and a little bit past each of those stations) to modernize it. The current structure is an embankment, which basically consists of two retaining walls with earth fill and ballasted track:

North Side Main embankment just south of Lawrence
The embankment from ground level
South end of Berwyn platform
Ballasted track running on top of the earth fill
North Side Main Line bridge over Hollywood Avenue, December 2020
A typical street crossing

They will be replacing this with a more modern elevated structure. They have similar structures in a few places, but unfortunately I don’t have any ground-level pictures (now that I’m writing this and realize it, I will quickly remedy that), but from above the tracks look like this (Wilson in this case, just south of the work zone):

Tracks north of Wilson
Tracks north of Wilson

This new structure will be open underneath, since it will be supported by concrete pillars rather than a solid earth fill. In the process, they will also be rebuilding the four stations (Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn, and Bryn Mawr). All four of those stations are fairly similar to their original 1920s designs, with narrow platforms, a single entrance (with a second exit-only staircase at the north end of Bryn Mawr), and not being accessible to passengers with disabilities. Lawrence and Bryn Mawr still feature wooden platforms, with the Bryn Mawr one particularly showing its age:

Southbound platform at Bryn Mawr
Old platform at Bryn Mawr

Berwyn and Argyle had their platforms replaced with concrete several years ago, but otherwise are pretty similar to Lawrence and Bryn Mawr.

South end of the platform at Argyle
Concrete platform at Argyle

The renovations to the stations will allow them to be fully accessible to passengers with disabilities, and also generally modernize them by making the platform wider, replacing the wood with concrete, and other things.

In the past when undertaking major reconstruction projects, the CTA has closed the line for several months with shuttle buses, like when they rebuilt the Dan Ryan Branch in 2013. In that case, they rerouted Red Line trains via the South Side Elevated (Green Line southern leg). However, in this case, since so many people take the Red Line (or at least did before the COVID-19 pandemic, and this project was planned long before then) and there aren’t any alternate routes, they still will run trains through the work zone. Since the line has four tracks, they will close two tracks at a time. The Purple Line Express will continue to run but will share tracks with the Red Line (I imagine this will be a dispatching nightmare). Lawrence and Berwyn will temporarily close, while Argyle and Bryn Mawr will remain in service, but using a temporary platform to accommodate trains running on different tracks than usual. Here is a very crude Microsoft Paint drawing explaining the situation:

Track situation prior to the start of the reconstruction project: Red Line runs on the inner tracks making stops, while the Purple Line runs on the outer tracks bypassing stops
Track situation during the reconstruction project: trains share tracks between Lawrence and Thorndale (I think they also share tracks at Wilson which is not reflected in the diagram) with Berwyn and Lawrence closed

The Last Hurrah

I set out to see the preparatory work in the afternoon on May 15 and take a photos of the stations about to close (Lawrence and Berwyn) as a sort of last hurrah.

Lawrence turnstiles the last day before closing
Turnstiles at Lawrence with a notice that the station was closing soon
South end of the North Side Main embankment from Lawrence
South end of the embankment from Lawrence
Back of a northbound train at Lawrence the day before closing
Train at Lawrence
Sign pointing to alterate stations to Lawrence
Sign near Lawrence directing passengers to head to Broadway to get to either Wilson or Argyle
Sign on Broadway to Wilson and Argyle stations
Sign at Lawrence and Broadway directing passengers to Wilson and Argyle
Looking south at Berwyn the day before closing
Platform at Berwyn
Faregates at Berwyn the day before closing
Turnstiles at Berwyn with a notice of the upcoming closure
Remaining fare machine at Berwyn
One of the fare machines at Berwyn had already been removed

The Transition

That evening, I periodically checked around the four affected stations to see what sort of preparatory work was being done. Nothing much seemed to be different until about 10:30pm, when they removed the wood covering over the Bryn Mawr temporary entrance:

Bryn Mawr temporary southbound mezzanine, immediately prior to opening
Bryn Mawr temporary southbound entrance, about 90 minutes before opening

The Argyle entrance was still closed at the time, so I returned home to post that photo and charge my camera. Then, I headed out again to check if there was anything new at Argyle, and unfortunately there was not, so I walked back to Bryn Mawr and then back to Argyle, at which point the wood paneling had been removed, making the fare mezzanine visible:

Temporary entrance to Argyle about 20 minutes prior to opening
Temporary entrance to Argyle, about 20 minutes prior to opening

I then headed to Berwyn, aiming to catch the last train at that station (which by my guess was the last one listed on Ventra to arrive prior to midnight). The train ended up arriving just after midnight, so this probably was the last train ever to stop at Berwyn (no southbound trains were listed on Ventra for a while and I couldn’t see any headlights coming from the north).

Last northbound train at the old Berwyn station
Last train ever to stop at the current Berwyn station!

From there I took it one stop to Bryn Mawr, where it stopped at the old station (now only used for northbound trains). From there, I hightailed it to the temporary southbound entrance. They were still in the process of removing the wrapping from the Bryn Mawr sign, so I waited for that, then got a photo.

Temporary Bryn Mawr entrance immediately after oepning
Bryn Mawr temporary southbound entrance

At that point, I just started photographing everything I could. A photographer from the construction contractor noticed me and explicitly invited me to take as many pictures as I can (and also informed me I was the second customer ever to board at that station). That was a nice change of pace, since usually employees get mad at me for taking photos (even though non-commercial photography is allowed without any form of permit). I took a bunch of photos of the mezzanine and passage to the platform:

Faregates at the temporary Bryn Mawr station immediately after opening
Passage to the platforms at the temporary Bryn Mawr station immediately after opening
Passage to the platform
Bottom of the north stairs at the temporary Bryn Mawr station immediately after openingPassage to the exit at the temporary Bryn Mawr station immediately after opening
Bottom of the stairs
Temporary southbound platform at Bryn Mawr looking north, immediately after opening

Unfortunately around this time it started raining, so I was only able to take photos with my good camera under the canopy, and was limited to using my phone outside of it.

From there, I caught a train (the second one ever to stop at this temporary platform) to Argyle:

Second train to stop at the temporary southbound platform at Bryn Mawr
Second ever train to stop at the temporary southbound platform at Bryn Mawr

At Argyle I resumed photography, but the rain had intensified, limiting me again to under the canopy.

Temporary platform at Argyle, looking north immediately after opening
Temporary platform by the stairs

However, it eventually stopped raining, enabling me to photograph the rest of the platform.

Temporary platform at Argyle, looking south immediately after opening
Temporary platform and the existing platform at Argyle
Looking down the stairs at the newly opened temporary Argyle station
Stairs to the temporary southbound platform

While I was there, I also got to talk to some of the construction crew and learn a bit more about the project, and a few guys asked me to take a photo of them (I did make sure they were aware I would post it online):

People waiting at the newly opened temporary Argyle station
These people asked me to take a photo of them, so here it is

From there, I headed out of Argyle, photographing the exit along the way:

Bottom of the stairs to the newly opened temporary station at Argyle
Bottom of the stairs to the temporary southbound platform at Argyle
Mezzanine at the newly opened temporary Argyle station
Temporary mezzanine at Argyle

Interestingly, Argyle has the temporary mezzanine and regular mezzanine connected (and they both lead to both platforms), but closed the main mezzanine when opening the temporary one:

Closed regular entrance at Argyle
Main mezzanine temporarily closed at Argyle, with passengers directed to use the temporary one instead

From there, I walked up to Bryn Mawr, stopping at Berwyn to see what it looked like after they closed it:

Berwyn entrance immediately after closing
Closed entrance to Berwyn

Then I continued up to Bryn Mawr, noticing a sign at the corner of Bryn Mawr and Broadway that was not there earlier in the evening. Since Bryn Mawr now has a separate station and entrance for each direction (about a block apart), it’s important that people know which one to use, so they put up a sign at the corner to help out.

Sign to the separate Bryn Mawr stations at Bryn Mawr and Broadway
Sign directing people to the different platforms at Bryn Mawr

I also photographed more of the station since the rain stopped:

Temporary platform at the newly opened Bryn Mawr station, looking south
Full view of the platforms at Bryn Mawr, including an extension of the existing platform
Warming shelter at the newly opened temporary Bryn Mawr station
Warming shelter for cold weather

Moving Forward

Now a massive four year construction project has really kicked off. Berwyn and Lawrence are closed for four years and will probably be demolished relatively soon (I will provide photos as I am able once that happens). I really look forward to seeing the end result, even if the intermediate process is going to be a challenge. I don’t currently have a commute to work, but probably will long before this project is over, so I will be boarding at this station. I do also have the 147 Outer Drive Express bus as an alternate if this becomes too difficult.

The day after I visited Lawrence to see the station one last time before it closed.

Lawrence entrance the day after closing
Lawrence station after being closed

I also noticed there was a mural across the street from the entrance, and sadly that mural will probably be lost with the construction.

Lawrence mural the day after closing
Mural on the north side of Lawrence Avenue

It’s going to be quite the adventure, that’s for sure.

The end of an era in Michigan City

On May 1, 2021, the 11th Street Station in Michigan City closed for reconstruction. The closure is expected to last about two and a half years, after which a new, more modern station will take its place. This is a bit of a bittersweet moment, as the new station and other associated improvements will provide a much better experience for riders (faster, fewer delays, easier boarding, etc.) but this is also the end of nearly 100 years of history.

The station as it existed prior to the closure was a fairly unique setup. It was in the middle of a street running segment on 11th Street in Michigan City, where the train runs in the middle of the street. The street is configured with one lane in each direction, with a third “lane” in the middle which carries the track.

In-street trackage at 10th Street and Willard Avenue
Street running track in Michigan City, with one lane in each direction plus a third “lane” in the middle to carry the track

Trains run down that track in the middle, and they also have to stop at red lights, just like cars. The crossings are generally unsignaled, with just a stoplight or stop sign.

Carlon Court grade crossing at 10th Street
Street crossing the street-running track
Inbound train approaching 11th Street Station
Train running in the middle of the street

The station is similar to a streetcar stop. The train stops in the middle of the street, and then passengers have to cross a lane of traffic to board or disembark. There is a stoplight to protect passengers from oncoming traffic while trains are stopped. The station just consists of a shelter, parking lot, and no platform. There used to be a station house adjacent to the current location of the station, but the building has since fallen into disuse.

11th Street Station shelter from across the street
Station shelter at 11th Street
Former 11th Street station building
Former station house at 11th Street
Railcar steps at 11th Street Station on the final day of service
Boarding a train from the street

This station design is a relic from the line’s interurban heritage. Interurbans basically operate like streetcars within cities but like regular trains between cities. The way the line was originally built, it had a number of street running segments, including this one in Michigan City, as well as segments in East Chicago and South Bend. The other ones were removed long ago: the East Chicago segment was rerouted to a new alignment adjacent to the Indiana Toll Road in 1956 and the South Bend segment was removed with the line first truncated before entering the street and then rerouted to a new station at the airport in 1992.

The Michigan City segment remained the last holdout on the line, continuing to operate street running tracks. Plans had existed for a long time to remove the tracks from the street, however due to the expense and property impact involved, it took a long time to come to fruition. Finally, as part of a larger project to double track the line from Gary to Michigan City (the line east of Gary is mostly a single track), they decided they would commence work on removing street running track in Michigan City. The new alignment will replace 10th and 11th Streets with one way streets and putting a second track where one of the lanes used to be.

While the South Shore Line initially announced that there would be no extended station closures during the double tracking project, they recently announced that the 11th Street Station would close starting May 1, 2021. I decided to seize the opportunity to photograph trains on the last day. I took the 5:58 train from Millennium Station out to Michigan City with plans to spend the night. I usually only get out to Indiana on weekends, where they only run single-level cars, but this time since it was a weekday they ran a bilevel railcar. I got to Michigan City right on schedule, and got off at 11th Street.

Outbound train at 11th Street Station on the final day of service
The train I took to Michigan City

I found out I was hardly the only person with the idea to photograph the station. There is a pretty large railfan community in the area, and a lot of them were also out there photographing, and I felt way outclassed since they definitely knew way more about this than I did and a lot of them had way fancier camera equipment. Still, I got to talk to some of them, and it was really cool to meet them.

While I didn’t stay for the last ever train to stop at the street-running 11th Street station (I didn’t particularly want to stay up until 2:18am), I did photograph a few more trains, including the last inbound train ever to stop there (there were several more outbound trains after it).

Last inbound train ever to stop at the street-running 11th Street Station
Last inbound train to ever stop at the street-running 11th Street Station

I quickly realized I was out of practice in terms of nighttime photography, as all of my recent photography expeditions have been during the daytime (and mostly during sunny weather). Still, I did my best.

One interesting detail is that the ticket machines were turned off, even though there were still trains running. I wonder if this means that passengers would have to pay the surcharge for buying a fare onboard the train.

Out of service ticket machines at 11th Street Station on the last day of service to the street running station
The ticket machines have been turned off

I spent the next few hours chatting with other railfans, photographing trains as they went by, including another passenger train and a freight train:

Outbound train at 11th Street station on the last day of service to the street running station
Passenger train at 11th Street
Freight train passing 11th Street station
Freight train passing 11th Street

From there, I caught a ride to the hotel where I was staying.

The next day, after getting my second COVID vaccine dose (I got it in Michigan City since at the time of my first dose, it was still pretty hard to get one in Chicago), I went back to the station to see if any demolition or construction had started yet. None had, but I got a few photos of the station from angles I hadn’t before. One other person was out photographing at this time. A train also passed by during this time, not stopping at the station. I realized I hadn’t gotten a good photo of a train including the shelter (to make it clearer how it looks when passengers actually board), so I took such a photo with this train, even if it wasn’t actually stopping.

Outbound train bypassing 11th Street on the first day it is closed
Outbound train bypassing 11th Street

Then, I got to work photographing various points along the line as well as the buildings that were slated for demolition (or at least the ones that had notices on them at the time).

Condemned building at 1712 W 10th Street
Building slated for demolition
Condemnation notice on Firme in Michigan City
Firme office slated for demolition – the only commercial building I saw slated for demolition, probably because the land will be needed for building the new station
Grade crossing at Willard Avenue in Michigan City
Willard Avenue grade crossing, one of two crossings with lights

I also got some photos of some very old interurban cars used on the line.

Old Chicago South Shore and South Bend interurban car
Old Chicago South Shore and South Bend cars formerly used on the South Shore Line

I also got a photo of the Indiana State Prison (from across the street):

Indiana State Prison from Sheridan Avenue
Indiana State Prison

Then I headed back to downtown Michigan City for lunch, and went to a burger place called Royale. The food was excellent, even if service was kinda slow. From there, I explored Downtown Michigan City a bit more, heading to the waterfront. Due to the blowing sand, I didn’t get many photos since I didn’t want to damage my camera. I did get a photo of the lighthouse though:

Michigan City lighthouse
Michigan City lighthouse

Then I walked over to Carroll Avenue (the other train station in Michigan City) since I could no longer board at 11th Street to get home. Along the way I photographed the eastern street running portion in Michigan City a bit more, as well as a few more condemned buildings.

Condemned building at the NW corner of 11th Street and Lafayette St
Another condemned building

Along the way, another train passed by.

Outbound train passing Lafayette Street
Outbound train passing Lafayette Street

Then, I got to the end of the street running.

East end of street running tracks in Michigan City
The eastern end of the tracks in 11th Street
Tracks entering 11th Street at the east end in Michigan City
Tracks entering the street

From there, I walked over to Carroll Avenue.

Carroll Avenue entrance sign
Entrance sign at Carroll Avenue

I also took some photos of the rail yard and shops.

Trains waiting at the Michigan City Shops
Railcars at the yard

Then, I went to the station to wait for my train home. An outbound train passed by while I was waiting:

Outbound train leaving Carroll Avenue
Outbound train leaving Carroll Avenue

Finally, my train entered from the yard.

Inbound South Shore Line waiting on the yard lead to enter service
Inbound train waiting on the yard lead at Carroll Avenue

From there, I caught the train back to Chicago.

I look forward to seeing the progress in upgrading the line. It will be cool to see a new modern station in Michigan City (as well as Miller, and some improvements at other stations as well). The new station will have a full parking garage, two tracks, and high platforms, which will significantly improve the experience for passengers. The double track work will allow them to run more trains and improve reliability, while removing the tracks from the street in Michigan City will significantly improve speed and safety. Still, it is a bit sad to see a piece of history be lost.

With that, the last street-running station on the South Shore Line is no more, and all that’s left are the memories.

Last inbound train ever to serve the street-running 11th Street Station departing
All that’s left are the memories