Chicago's L turns 125

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Throughout the Loop, the sounds of chaotic cars and a flurry of foot traffic mix. But it's the thundering "L" that keeps Chicago's rhythm. (WLS)

Throughout the Loop, the sounds of chaotic cars and a flurry of foot traffic mix. But it's the thundering L that keeps Chicago's rhythm.

This legendary train system has been the Windy City's pulse for well over a century; and Tuesday it marks 125 years of service.

"It's really become part of the fabric of the city. Part of not only people's daily lives but very much a part of the culture of the city," explained Graham Garfield, CTA's general manager of customer information. He also happens to be an unofficial L historian.

Tuesday, Loop passengers can step into the past aboard two antique trains. One car from 1923 and another from 1976.

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Throughout the Loop, the sounds of chaotic cars and a flurry of foot traffic mix. But it's the thundering L that keeps Chicago's rhythm.



The first L opened in 1892, running from Congress Parkway to 39th Street on Chicago's South Side. Those wooden trains ran on steam.

But just eight years later the system went electric, eventually becoming the first rapid transit system to use "multiple unit control," making every train car motorized.

"All controlled simultaneously by one person at the front of the train that allowed faster acceleration and braking," Garfield added.

Now people ride the L close to a million times each day-on some of the original path as well as the newer.
It's a tad pricey compared to the initial 5 cent fare. But for Chicagoans, riding the L is still great for things like sight-seeing on your commute.
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Throughout the Loop, the sounds of chaotic cars and a flurry of foot traffic mix. But it's the thundering L that keeps Chicago's rhythm.


"It's beautiful scenery coming from downtown," one rider said.

And it's also ideal for the important things.

"It's great for getting to cubs games," another L fan pointed out with a smile.

The vintage trains are only running Tuesday afternoon. The '20s car will run from about 12 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. Then the Bicentennial train will run until about 3 p.m. It costs the same as any other L ride, so hop on at any Orange or Pink Line Loop station to enjoy a true Chicago legend!

Related Topics:
trafficCTApublic transportationLoopChicagoWest Loop
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