In the Loop, there are several “L” stations that haven’t been thoroughly modernized: the station at La Salle and Van Buren is one; this one at Randolph and Wabash is another.
The steel bones of the stations are the same as when they were built around 1900. The old wooden benches and the shape of the shed roofs are much the same, too. Some of the stations have old wooden swinging doors, their edges rounded under the paint by impatient hands pushing them for a century, chipped by the brush of parasols and satchels, wheelie bags and bikes.
I like these stations, with their peeling paint, the patina of age. The push is on to make Chicago more like other places, to get rid of its peculiarities, its antiquities; but what is a city but a peculiar mix of old and new things? It would be dreadful if everything worn or simply old were to be extirpated. Like a woman who has visited her plastic surgeon too many times. . . .