State-of-the-art L station in the Loop now open for business

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Only the pigeons shunned the gleaming, swoopy thing Thursday, preferring instead the familiar comforts of the flaking, corrugated L station roof just to the south.

“It’s beautiful. It’s clean. It’s all stainless [steel]. It’s well lighted,” gushed Pamela Hajek, 66, of Oak Park as she arrived at the CTA’s newest station — a $75 million project two years in the making — at Washington and Wabash Thursday morning.

Other passengers stopped to take selfies, while an army of CTA workers in shiny orange-and-lime-colored vests flitted around the station, buffing smudged elevator door windows and generally making sure everything was working as it should for the stop’s grand opening.

The new station includes wider platforms, digital displays and an undulating canopy fringed with with delicate LED lighting.

There’s a lot of stainless steel at the new Washington & Wabash station, in contrast to the Randolph & Wabash station, where there’s a lot of peeling paint. It’s slated to close early Sunday. | Santiago Covarrubias/For The Sun-Times

The platform, which replaces stations at Randolph/Wabash and Madison on the east leg of the Loop L was greeted with near universal approval by commuters Thursday.

“It just seems more roomy, cozy. It seems very refined,” said Eric Striegel, 32, who lives in Lincoln Square. “When I was walking down the stairs, I noticed I had more room. I wasn’t bumping into people.”

The Madison stop closed in March 2015 in preparation for the project. The Randolph/Wabash stop is set to close Sunday. The old platform, with creaky wood platforms and layer upon layer of flaking paint will be missed by some.

“It’s historical,” said Aladdin Osman, 30, a downtown architect. “They need to keep it. It’s the history of Chicago.”

Now that the station at Washington & Wabash is open, the CTA station at Randolph & Wabash on the Loop L will be torn down. | Santiago Covarrubias/For The Sun-Times

Willie Dickerson, 66, disagrees. He’s spent much of the last 19 years sitting in the shadow of the L tracks on Wabash, asking for “blessings” from passersby.

“Young man, your kindness will not be forgotten,” he said, as a man in a suit dropped two quarters in Dickerson’s empty coffee cup.

Dickerson, who lives in a shelter, was there when the project began and was there Thursday. He said the clatter and bang of construction never bothered him.

“When you do good things to Chicago, it draws people — tourists,” he said. “And that’s exactly what you want, and revenue too.”

A new CTA station opened Thursday at Washington & Wabash on the east side of the Loop L. | Santiago Covarrubias/For The Sun-Times

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