When the Orange Line was built in 1993, the planners left an opening in the ‘L’ structure to accommodate a future extension of 51st Street. Twenty years later, that opening is still there, still awaiting the extension of 51st Street.
If you’re familiar with the South Side, you know that 51st Street is a major half-section street. It carries significant traffic from the lake (where it’s called Hyde Park Boulevard) straight through to Kedzie. West of Kedzie, 51st gradually trickles into a minor side-street until it stops at Harding, just short of the Orange Line viaduct and Pulaski Road.
A 1902 city map shows 51st continuing to an intersection with Crawford (Pulaski). But shortly afterward the Belt Railway constructed a spur track through the area, cutting off 51st a block short of Crawford.