Did You Know, Chicago? The 'L'

Did You Know, Chicago? The 'L'

I  love the 'L.' I think it's because my goal growing up was to live in the city,  and being on the 'L' is a sure fire reminder that I'm a Chicagoan. As much as our transit system sucks sometimes it has been around forever and has a great history:

The first EL train ran in 1892 from Van Buren to 39th, and the car was actually a steam locomotive pulling four wooden coaches. I don't know about you, but that idea scares the crap out of me.

Ever wonder why the downtown business district is called "The Loop?" It's because the 'L' trains make a giant circle around the area. The area considered to be "The Loop" has long since expanded outside of the track lines, but the name stuck.

The CTA didn't actual have control over the train system until the late 1940s. Before that, the system was controlled by the president of Chicago Edison, and before that each line was operated independently by various companies. When the CTA took over, they created one fare system for the entire line.

The CTA sold tokens, one per train ride, up until 1999 when they introduced the fare card. I kind of wish they still sold tokens because they are very cool looking.

Food for thoughts; the Chicago 'L'/subway system versus the Tokyo subway system. I guess we're not so bad after all:

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  • Some claim that the Loop originated with streetcar or cable car loops before the elevated Loop structure was built. But according to Chicago transit historian Bruce Moffat, there were no newspaper reference to The Loop as a proper name before the elevated Loop was built. See http://www.chicago-l.org/FAQ.html#3.13 for more details.

  • Thanks! :)

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