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 Illinois . USA

Click on map to enlarge! 2000 © UrbanRail.Net


Chicago has 3 million inhabitants (more than 7.5 million in the metropolitan area) and is the third largest metropolitan area in the USA (after New York and Los Angeles), situated on the western shore of Lake Michigan in the state of Illinois.

Chicago's metro is known as the 'L' as most of its network is elevated. Some stretches of today's system date back to the end of the 19th century when Chicago followed New York's example to construct elevated rail lines. Whereas New York started early in the 20th century to put all elevated lines in Manhattan underground, Chicago maintains most of its original routes. All lines spread out from the city centre where some of them form the famous elevated loop, now one of the city's landmarks. Two lines, the Blue Line and the Red Line cross the city centre north-south in a subway. Washington, Jackson and Monroe stations of both subways are connected by a 750 m (Dearborn subway) / 930 m (State St.) long continuous platform.

The entire network is 173 km long and has 152 stations, 18 km lie in tunnel (21 stations) and 62 km are elevated/at grade (90 stations). Most of the rest of the lines and stations are in expressway medians, with the exception of several kilometers at the ends of the Brown Line and Blue Line (Douglas) branches. The 'L' is operated by CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). Both airports are served by a CTA train, O'Hare Airport by the Blue Line (45 min to city centre) and Midway Airport by the Orange Line (30 min to city centre).

On 11 Sept 2004, the Yellow Line (Skokie Swift) was converted from overhead to third rail power supply to make rolling stock compatible with other lines.


Chicago L Subway Chicago L Subway Chicago L Subway Chicago L Subway

from 1892 - four different companies start operating elevated lines north, west and south of the city centre using steam engines during the first years.

1897 - Loop opened around city centre
1924 - all elevated companies united in the Chicago Rapid Transit Company
1943 - State Street subway (7.9 km)
1951 - Dearborn street subway opened (6.4 km)
1958 - Congress line (Blue Line) extended in median strip of Eisenhower Expressway
1969 - Dan Ryan line in middle strip of expressway opened
1984 - Blue Line reaches O'Hare Airport
1993 - Dan Ryan (Red Line) trains rerouted through State St. subway
1993 - Orange Line from Loop to Midway Airport opened (14.8 km), colour scheme introduced for all lines
1996 - Green Line reopened after 2 years of reconstruction
30 June 2001 - Conservatory-Central Park Drive station added on the Green Line
24 June 2006 - former Blue Line Cermak Branch converted into Pink Line and diverted onto the Loop
30 April 2012 - Yellow Line - Oakton-Skokie station added
18 May 2012 - Green/Pink Line - Morgan station added

For more details see links below ....

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Several extensions are currently being discussed:

Red Line south to 130th Street
Yellow Line from Skokie to Old Orchard
Orange Line from Midway Airport to Ford City

© Thomas Schunk Chicago L Subway Red Line ramp at Armitage © Thomas Schunk Chicago L Subway Clarke/Lake subway station © Werner Huber
2001 © Photographs courtesy of Thomas Schunk


Bruce G. Moffat: The "L" (The Development of Chicago's Rapid Transit System, 1882-1932). - 1995, 305 pages, Central Electric Railfans' Association, ISBN 0915348306




CTA - Chicago Transit Authority - Official Site

Metra Commuter Rail - Official Page

Chicago 'L' at Wikipedia

Metra at Wikipedia

Graham Garfield's Chicago "L".org - A Comprehensive Chicago Subway and L Page

Jon Bell's Chicago Page with photographs

Yuri Popov's Chicago Rail Transit Site

Bill Vandervoort's CTA TRANSIT RAILFAN'S PAGE incl. history of lines

Shore Line - Interurban Historical Society

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Chicago L Subway Chicago L Subway Chicago L Subway Chicago L Subway

Chicago L Subway Chicago L Subway Chicago L Subway Chicago L Subway


Thanks to Yuri Popov!


2007 © Robert Schwandl (UrbanRail.Net)