A visual history of Chicago's L system

Timeline created by facebooker_763370042
  • Start Point

    Start Point
    The 'L' (from "elevated") is the rapid transit system serving the city of Chicago and some of its surrounding suburbs. It is operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). The oldest sections of the 'L' started operating in 1892, making it the second-oldest rapid transit system in the Americas, after New York City
  • Loop

    It is believed the origin of the term loop is derived from the cable car turning loops in the central business district, and especially those of two lines that shared a loop, constructed in 1882, bounded by Madison, Wabash, State, and Lake. Other research has concluded that "the Loop" was not used as a proper noun until after the 1895–97 construction of the Union elevated railway loop.
  • The L in 1921

    The L in 1921
    After 1911, the 'L' lines came under the control of Samuel Insull, president of the Chicago Edison electric utility (now Commonwealth Edison), whose interest stemmed initially from the fact that the trains were the city's largest consumer of electricity. Insull instituted many improvements, including free transfers and through routing, although he did not formally combine the original firms into the Chicago Rapid Transit Company until 1924.
  • State Street Subway

    State Street Subway
    The State Street subway was completed in 1943;the Dearborn subway, on which work had been suspended during World War II, opened on February 25, 1951. The subways were constructed with a secondary purpose of serving as bomb shelters, as evidenced by the close spacing of the support columns (a more extensive plan proposed replacing the entire elevated system with subways). The subways bypassed a number of tight curves and circuitous routings on the original elevated lines (Milwaukee trains, for ex
  • Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway

    Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway
    On February 25, 1951, Chicago's second subway route (#2), Milwaukee-Dearborn, was placed in operation by CTA, connecting the Milwaukee Avenue elevated route (formerly Logan Square) with the Central Business District on a fast, efficient and more direct routing through the heart of the city
  • Dan Ryan Branch

    Dan Ryan Branch
    The Dan Ryan branch opened on September 28, 1969,[20] followed by an extension of the Milwaukee elevated into the Kennedy Expressway in 1970.
  • O'Hare Extension

    O'Hare Extension
    Until 1970 the northern section of the Blue Line terminated at Logan Square, during which time it was called the Milwaukee route after Milwaukee Avenue which ran parallel to it; in that year service was extended to Jefferson Park via the Kennedy Expressway median, and in 1984 to O'Hare.
  • Orange Line

    The 13-mile (21 km) long Orange Line was constructed in the early 1990s on existing railroad embankments and new concrete and steel elevated structure. It runs from a station adjacent to Chicago Midway International Airport on the Southwest Side to The Loop in downtown Chicago. Average weekday ridership is 52,978.
  • Pink Line

    Pink Line
    It began operation for a 180-day trial period on June 25, 2006, running between 54th/Cermak Station in Cicero, Illinois and the Loop in downtown Chicago. The route to the Loop follows tracks shared with Green Line trains on Lake Street, connected by the previously non-revenue Paulina Connector.
  • L today

    L today
    As of mid-2006 the 'L' accounted for 36% of the CTA's nearly 1.5 million weekday riders, with the remainder traveling on the extensive bus network. The rail system's ridership has increased over time. In 1926, the year of peak prewar rail usage, the 'L' carried 229 million passengers – seemingly a formidable number, but actually less than 20% of the 1.16 billion Chicago transit patrons that year, most of whom rode the city's streetcars. The shift to rail has continued in recent times. Since its
  • New Cars

    New Cars
    CTA has begun testing the prototypes of a brand-new family of ‘L’ cars: The CTA 5000-series rail cars. These new rail cars include a wide variety of new features and technologies.
  • New station in Yellow Line

    New station in Yellow Line
    An infill station is currently under construction at Oakton Street which will serve downtown Skokie, and its completion (expected in January 2012) will signal the end of over 40 years of the Skokie Swift operating as a non-stop shuttle.
  • Red & Purple Modernization Project

    Red & Purple Modernization Project
    This project is proposed to bring the North Red and Purple Lines’ stations, track systems, and structures into a state of good repair from the track structure immediately north of Belmont station to the Linden terminal (9.5 miles). This project is one part of the Your Red Program to extend and enhance the entire Red Line.
  • Red Line Extension

    Red Line Extension
    The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is proposing to make transportation improvements by extending the Red Line from the 95th Street Station to the vicinity of 130th Street.
  • Orange Line Extension

    Orange Line Extension
    The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is proposing to make transportation improvements by extending the Orange Line from Midway Station at the Midway International Airport south along the Belt Railway Company right-of-way from 59th Street to Marquette Road, crossing the Belt Railway Company Clearing Yard and ending on Cicero Avenue.
  • Circle Line Alternatives

    Circle Line Alternatives
    The proposed Circle Line would link all of CTA's rail lines and all of Metra's lines in a study area bounded by 39th Street on the south, Fullerton Parkway on the north, Western Avenue on the west and Lake Michigan on the east, creating improved connections and shorter travel times for transit customers throughout the six-county region and helping to reduce traffic congestion.