The Friends of Oak Park Conservatory (FOPCON) wants to add signage to the Oak Park Blue Line el station – the closest stop to the Oak Park Conservatory – that would designate it as the “conservatory stop” on the train line.

 Park District of Oak Park Executive Director Jan Arnold said that the group is taking its cue from the Conservatory-Central Park Drive Green Line el station. Arnold said that FOPCON is looking for an “honorary” station sign, which would be different from the Green Line station, which has “conservatory” as part of its official name.

Any decision would be up to the Chicago Transit Authority board to decide on any changes to the station’s signage. FOPCON is expected to formally request the park district to officially support their request at the park board’s Sept. 18 meeting.

The Conservatory-Central Park Drive station on the CTA’s Green Line was built in 2001 to encourage more people to visit the Garfield Park Conservatory and Garfield Park’s Golden Dome fieldhouse.

Before it opened, there was some debate over what it would be called, with some favoring “Conservatory” because it would be more informative and others favoring “Central Park Drive” because it would be consistent with CTA’s usual practice of naming el stations after the streets it served. The current name was a compromise. 

At the insistence of the local alderman, “Garfield Park” was added to the station signs (but not the official station name) to help draw attention to the park itself. 

The Oak Park Blue Line station has two entrances — one at Oak Park Avenue and one at East Avenue. Oak Park Conservatory and Rehm Park are located south of the latter entrance.

There is precedent for CTA adding place names to official station names in response to community requests. In 1995, Tech-35th station, which was named after Illinois Institute of Technology and the street it served, was renamed “35th-Bronzeville-IIT” to reflect the surrounding neighborhood. 

There is also precedent for CTA putting signs on the platforms to highlight nearby destinations. The Illinois Medical District Blue Line station, for example, has a sign for the Malcolm X College, which is located north of I-290.

Arnold told the Journal that FOPCON approached the park district to see if they would be interested in supporting their effort to get an honorary name for Oak Park station “similar to what the Garfield Park Conservatory did on the Green Line.” 

A member of the board knew someone from the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance’s board of directors, Arnold said, which is what gave her the idea.

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Igor Studenkov

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Growing Community Media newspapers in 2012, then from 2015...