Looking north from the Adams/Wabash transfer bridge
Taking rapid transit in another city is always a unique experience. It’s a great way to get around and see the surrounding landscape from a different angle. Most major cities have some form of rapid transit from light rail to heavy rail and in varying ways be it above or below ground. Chicago is an interesting case utilizing infrastructure that dates back to the turn of the century along with some of the most recent rolling stock.
Chicago is probably one of the few cities in the world that hasn’t totally embraced the subway and buried everything underground. The majority of the system, run by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), is elevated above streets with steel support structures and embankments, or running down the median of major freeways. The overhead trackage has earned the system’s name as the ‘L’, which is short for elevated. Sections of the elevated structure vary in detail and colour, with some portions in the Loop being painted a deep yellow or maroon. This unique structure makes a great contrast over the modern streets of Chicago, a rarity among most metropolitan areas.
A CTA transit map in a 3200-series car
The ‘L’ system has been growing for over a century and each of the lines have their own distinctive style. The stations in the Loop are a mixture of new and old; decorative wooden mouldings and sheet metal structures to glass panels and steel supports. Other stations throughout the system were constructed from brick with sculpted facades to elegant stone walls with Greek-styled columns. Most newer stations, especially those along the highways, are bare concrete with glass and steel; nothing elegant, but still beautiful in its own way.
Below is a selection of my photos taken on the ‘L’ while wandering through Chicago. It’s just such a unique system where the stations vary almost at every stop and present amazing subjects for the camera. Keep in mind, when snapping pictures on the ‘L’, to please follow and respect the CTA’s photography policy.
Note: These photos were taken over a period of three years during various trips down to Chicago.
System information courtesy of Chicago ‘L’.org