Red Ahead

An artist's rendering for the planned reconstruction of the Wilson Red Line station, looking northwest at Wilson and Broadway.

Wilson Station Reconstruction

Building a New Chicago

Riders, residents and visitors of Uptown - your new Wilson Station is officially complete!

CTA is proud to announce that it’s reconstruction of the historic Wilson Station has reached its final milestone with the full restoration of the iconic Gerber Building.

The $203 million Wilson Station Reconstruction Project transformed a nearly 100-year-old station that was cramped and dimly lit into a modern, bright and convenient station that is fully accessible to people with disabilities. The station now includes customer amenities like escalators, elevators, more security cameras and stunning new artwork by world-renowned artist, architect and engineer Cecil Balmond.

The project also replaced more than 100year-old track structure and established the Wilson Station into a transfer point for Red and Purple Line Express trains.

The new Wilson station now offers:

  • Full accessibility for all passengers with disabilities, including wheelchairs and mobility devices and Braille signage
  • Seamless transfers between Red Line and Purple Line Express service
  • Larger station platforms for more customer capacity and easier boarding of northbound and southbound trains
  • Three station entrances – two located on the south and north sides of Wilson Avenue, a third located on Sunnyside Ave
  • Elevators and escalators
  • Architectural glass platform canopies to provide greater weather protection
  • New lighting, signage, security cameras and more turnstiles
  • Arpeggio, the new stunning, Art Deco-inspired artwork from world-renowned artist, designer & engineer Cecil Balmond
  • Train and Bus Tracker displays to provide real-time arrival information.

Gerber Building

Built in 1923, the iconic Gerber Building is located on the northwest corner of Wilson and Broadway and has been faithfully renovated to serve the community as a fully-functioning retail space, while maintaining its iconic architectural legacy.

A long, one-story, Beaux Arts-style building, the Gerber Building formerly functioned as the primary entrance to the elevated rail station (Uptown Station). Architecturally inspired by classic Greek and Roman precedents, the Beaux Arts style was typically applied to buildings with a civic function, including some of the world’s most elegant rail stations and many notable Chicago buildings 

The CTA was able to restore the Gerber Building’s façade to its original appearance and the renovated space includes more than 13,000 square feet of space for lease.


Frequently Asked Questions

Project Renderings & Historical photos



Improvements made

The new station design features contemporary architecture including steel framed, translucent canopies and a striking, glass-enclosed entrance that will serve as the main station entrance on the south side of Wilson Avenue. Project improvements include:

  • Service Transfer Point: two new island platforms to allow convenient cross-platform transfers between Red Line and Purple Line Express service – making Wilson the only transfer station between the Howard and Belmont stations.
  • Improved Access: three station entrances/exits for improved customer convenience:
    • Main Entrance: south side of Wilson Avenue
    • Additional Entrance: north side of Wilson Avenue
    • Additional Entrance: at Sunnyside Avenue 
  • Accessibility for Customers with Disabilities: the new stationhouse is accessible to customers with disabilities with elevators serving the east and west platforms and other ADA compliant features such as Braille signage and a wheelchair accessible fare gate. The Sunnyside entrance is also be accessible to customers with disabilities with ADA-compliant ramps leading from the station entrance to the platforms.
  • Other Features: other modern station amenities include:
    • Wider stairwells
    • New escalators
    • Additional turnstiles
    • New lighting
    • New signage, including Braille
    • Additional bike parking
    • Modern steel framed, translucent canopies
  • Enhanced Neighborhood Presence: in addition to restoring the terra cotta exterior of the 1923 stationhouse and building a new stationhouse, project work included enhancing the pedestrian environment on Broadway and Wilson with the removal of some ‘L’ structure support columns from both the street and sidewalk.
  • Safer and More Reliable Service: to better improve the reliability of service and improve travel times, a significant amount of work was performed on infrastructure and non-customer facing components such as:
    • Replacement of track and viaducts through the station area
    • Upgrades to the signaling system
    • New elevated support structure
    • Removal of all support columns located in the street on Wilson and Broadway
    • Reducing the number support columns along Broadway from 30 to 8
Project timeline
  • Pre-Construction (early-October 2014 through spring 2015): relocation of some utilities; foundation work for new, relocated infrastructure; and the demolition of unused freight structure, CTA owned property, the Broadway Mall and the Majestic Men’s Wear building (the façade will be kept and restored per project plans).
  • Stage 1 (spring 2015 / 12 months): existing entrances remained open as crews constructed temporary entrances on north and south side of Wilson Ave. and a temporary exit near Sunnyside; demolition and reconstruction of Track #1 (southbound track used by Loop-bound Purple Line Express trains); and construction of new southbound shared platform.
  • Stage 2 (spring 2016 / 7 months): all existing and new temporary entrances/exits open; demolition and reconstruction of Track #2 (southbound track used by 95th-bound Red Line trains); new westernmost platform in use.
  • Stage 3 (fall 2016 / 6 months): existing Wilson Ave. and Gerber entrances closed; demolition and reconstruction of Track #3 (northbound track used by Howard-bound Red Line trains)
  • Stage 4 (spring 2017 / 6 months): demolition and reconstruction of Track #4 (northbound track used by Linden-bound Purple Line Express trains); and construction of new northbound shared platform and permanent station entrances.
  • Stage 5 (fall 2017 / 2 months): realign final track configuration and remove any existing temporary entrances/exits.

See materials presented at the September 16, 2014 community meeting.

Project funding

More than 80 percent ($170 million) of the $203 million project funding came from the Illinois Jobs Now! program, with the remaining funding provided by the Federal Transit Administration and tax-increment financing.

The Wilson Station Reconstruction project is part of CTA’s Red Ahead program, a $1 billion comprehensive initiative to maintain, modernize and expand the Red Line – Chicago’s most-traveled rail line. Collectively, these projects are part of Mayor Emanuel’s Building a New Chicago program, which is updating infrastructure that's critical to the city, and includes improvements that will help ensure that CTA continues to serve customers as effectively as possible.

Public art

Stunning new artwork suspended from the ceiling of the new Wilson main stationhouse.

Suspended from the ceiling of the new main entrance is the stunning new artwork Arpeggio, created especially for the Wilson station by world-renowned artist, designer and engineer Cecil Balmond.

Composed of a multi-faceted sculpture enhanced by a reflective wall and LED lighting, customers moving through the turnstiles will note the strong geometric shapes of the artwork as light is reflected to create the feel of continuous movement.

The artwork celebrates the vocabulary of 1920’s Art Deco design, a style found in Uptown’s historic architecture, while the name of the artwork refers to an element of jazz, another artistic form closely associated with the history of neighborhood. Arpeggio is a term used to describe a type of broken chord played in succession, either ascending or descending – a sequence that may be interpreted visually in the undulating geometric forms of the sculpture.

Funding for this permanent piece of public art is provided by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and covers the entire project budget.
How was the artist selected?

A Call for Artists was issued in June 2013, to commission public art for display in the reconstructed Wilson station. The deadline for submissions was July 18, 2013 and this opportunity is now closed.

An evaluation committee reviewed 200+ submissions. Mr. Balmond was selected for his artistic merit, qualifications and professional recognition, which includes large-scale public art installations around the world.

About the Artist

Mr. Balmond, who is Sri Lankan-born and resides in London, is known for his large-scale public art installations around the world. He was selected from a pool of more than 200 artist submissions for his artistic merit and qualifications. He has been a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Architecture, Yale University and a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics. His past projects include the design of Weave Bridge for the University of Pennsylvania, Ito-Balmond Serpentine Pavilion in London, ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower (with artist Anish Kapoor) for the London Olympics and the CCTV Tower (with architect Rem Koolhaus). His current project is the Gretna Landmark, an architectural-scale illuminated sculpture that marks the Scottish and English border crossing.

For more about the artist, visit

More Information

Press Releases:


Supporting Project Documents:


Previous Public Meetings

February 2014 Public Hearing

A public hearing was held (public notice) at the Uplift Community High School on February 18 to present the EA and Section 4(f) document for the Project and to receive public comments.

PDF documentMeeting Presentation (text-only version)
PDF documentPrinted Display Boards (text-only version)

October 2012 Open House

CTA hosted an open house meeting to allow customers and community members an opportunity to view renderings of the proposed Wilson Reconstruction Project, ask questions and submit comments and feedback. Input received will be used to help guide us in finalizing plans for the new station. This meeting was held on October 11, 2012 at Harry S. Truman College.

The complete set of renderings and boards on display during this open house meeting are now available:

PDF documentWilson Reconstruction Project Display Boards
PDF documentPublic Comments 

DBE Pre-proposal Meetings

The Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) Wilson Station Reconstruction Project will provide station improvement contracting opportunities for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE).

See this flyer (.pdf) for more information.

Meetings were held on the following dates:
  • Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 2pm to 4pm at:
    CTA Headquarters
  • Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 9am to 11am at:
    Chicago Urban League
  • Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 9am to 1pm at:
    Truman College


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