Posts Tagged ‘forest on top of embankment chicago’

The Abandoned Chicago Junction Railway Embankment in Chicago’s South Side

October 15, 2022

The Chicago Junction Railway Embankment (CJRE) is in the Bronzeville and Kenwood neighborhoods. It used to be part of the elevated train system and it was closed to the public in 1957. The CJR Kenwood branch had six train stations of which only three exist today. It is about 1 mile long from Lake Park avenue to the Dan Ryan highway. There’s a small section of it that heads north and descends to ground level, from 40th Street to Pershing Road, and is West of Federal street. Some sections of the embankment, along with its train bridges, are still visible on the west side of the Dan Ryan, all the way to South Normal Avenue.

The Chicago Junction Railway Embankment on Google Maps, outlined in yellow

According to the city of Chicago, the embankment is owned by the Cook County Land Bank Authority. I contacted them several times by phone and email with many questions, for example, what their plans are for the embankment, if any part of it is for sale, if they do any maintenance and if I can get a permit to walk on it and take pictures, but I have not received a response.

I love the majestic walls of the Embankment and the thick forest with several hundreds, if not thousands, of trees and shrubs that have grown on it. I find it fascinating how these trees and shrubs have grown on their own, although this is not uncommon in Chicago, due to our rich soil and abundance of water.

According to Ms. Lydia Scott, Director of the Morton Arboretum Chicago Region Trees Initiative, “Trees are very important for urban areas.” Ms. Scott directed me to a literature review about the benefits of trees for livable and sustainable communities.

From some of the photographs I sent to the Morton Arboretum, Ms. Julie Janoski, Plant Clinic Manager there, has identified several species present on top of the CJRE to be green and white ash trees, Norway maples, Tree of heaven, Siberian elms and alders.

Ms. Scott added that there’s probably also “mulberry, box elders, honeysuckles and likely other (weedy) species.”

From a layman’s perspective, I know having so many trees in our city reduces carbon dioxide, increases oxygen, and preserves some biodiversity in our city. Trees are of course also relaxing and beautiful to look at.

If you would like to see some videos of the CJRE, you can do so at my YouTube Channel.

In the near future, I will be publishing many descriptions, photos and videos of the CJRE in this blog. Here’s an index that will be linked with hypertext:

The Ellis and Lake Park Station

The Chicago Junction Railway Embankment: Ellis Ave to Drexel Blvd and Mural

Cottage Grove Ave Mural, and West to 41st St

North of 41st St to South Langley Ave and 40th St

South Langley Ave and north of 40th St to the Abandoned Vincennes Station

Vincennes Ave to MLK, along south side of E Oakwood Blvd, north of Paul G Stewart Apartments

The South Parkway Train Station on Martin Luther King Drive

The mural on the West side of Martin Luther King Drive

West of MLK Drive to Calumet Ave

West of South Prairie Ave to S Indiana Ave

Indiana Train station

South Michigan Ave to South Wabash Ave

West South Wabash to East South State street

West of South State St to S Dearborn St


7 CTA train lines you never knew existed

The Morton Arboretum

The “L”, The Development of Chicago’s Rapid Transit System 1888-1932 by Bruce G. Moffat, 1995

Copyright © 2022 Jorge Luis Carbajosa