Tag Archives: Chicago

Dragon Ball Symphonic Adventure to tour North America in 2020

Dragon Ball Symphonic Adventure
Promotional artwork for Dragon Ball Symphonic Adventure.

A symphonic concert will tour North America as part of the thirtieth anniversary of the Dragon Ball series through 2020, starting with Chicago, Illinois on Friday, March 27th, 2020.

Funimation and Toei Animation have partnered with Overlook Events and AWR Music Productions (the group behind the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds concerts), to bring the music from the Dragon Ball anime to life by a live orchestra using taiko drumming, and a score by Japanese composer Shunsuke Kikuchi.

While Chicago is listed as the first stop, no other cities were provided. As Funimation’s blog post mentioned “North America”, it is hoped that some Canadian cities would be included in the tour.

Tickets for the Chicago date of the Dragon Ball Symphonic Adventure go on sale through Ticketmaster at 10:00 am CST, on Friday, November 15th, 2019.

Source: Funimation

CTA bids farewell to the 2400-series rail car

2400-series Green Line train
A 2400-series Harlem-bound Green Line train crosses the Chicago River on the Lake Street bridge.

It’s the end of the line for the 2400-series rail cars as the Chicago Transit Authority upgrades its rail fleet. The CTA is holding one last ride for the 38 year old cars on Wednesday, January 21st, 2015 before they’re removed from service.

Inaugurated during the United States’ bicentennial in 1976, the cars were built by Boeing-Vertol and originally delivered in a patriotic red, white and blue colour scheme. For most of their life, the 2400-series served the Green and Purple lines, with a number dedicated as maintenance trains easily identified by their red and white striped horizontal markings. This class of rail car became the first to use sliding doors instead of the “blinker” doors, last used on the long gone 2200-series.

An eight-car farewell train will tour the Loop, Brown Line, North Side Red Line and South Side Green Line in their original 1976 livery. Visit the CTA web site for a schedule of the 2400-series final run.

Source: Chicago Transit Authority


Farewell Trip for CTA 2200-Series

A 2200-series train at O'Hare
A 2200-series train at O’Hare

After serving some 40+ years moving people throughout Chicago, the aging 2200-series rail cars are making their final run before retirement.

On the morning of Thursday, August 8th, 2013, the Chicago Transit Authority will be holding two celebratory last trips with an eight-car 2200-series train along the Blue Line.

Famous for their rectangular shape, corrugated sides and folding “blinker” doors, the 2200-series hit the rails in 1969 as delivery continued into the early 1970s. Later in their life, the 2200-series moved to the Blue Line to be paired up with the 2600-series so that passengers with disabilities could board a train without being restricted by the narrow doors.

Two trips will be made late Thursday morning: a non-stop short run between Rosemont and Jefferson Park leaving Rosemont at 10:05 am CDT and an all-stop full run from O’Hare to Forest Park leaving O’Hare at 11:05 am CDT. Regular fares will be in effect. Visit the Chicago Transit Authority web site for full schedule details.

The 2200-series have been replaced by the 5000-series which are deployed on the Pink, Red and Green Lines.

Sources: Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago-L.org

Blue Exorcist the Movie US screening

The long awaited Blue Exorcist The Movie is hitting select theatres in the United States this August. For one Saturday only, catch Rin and Yukio Okumura as they defend their school and the world from Satan’s forces on the big screen. The movie will be dubbed in English.

Every eleven years, True Cross Academy celebrates a festival with the town that encompasses the school. While everyone is setting up for the carnival, the barriers protecting the town and school are being repaired at the same time. A ghost train seizes the opportunity to cause havoc and in turn, brothers Rin and Yukio Okumura are ordered to investigate, but find a demon posing as a young boy. Joining the Okumura twins is Cheng-Long Liu, an exorcist from Taiwan, but the mission begins to change for those involved.

Blue Exorcist The Movie was originally released on December 28th, 2012 in Japan.

Source: Blue Exorcist

SkyTrain Stories

Mark I SkyTrain interior
Don’t you wish you could have an empty car each time you take the train?

It’s never a dull moment riding rapid transit here in Vancouver. There’s always some interesting conversation going on, provocative people milling about, or odd item left behind on (or under) the seats.

While taking the train to Waterfront for the Canada Day fireworks earlier this month, I was sandwiched between two conversations that were miles apart. To my left, I had a couple engaged in a drunken babble while drinking from liquor bottles concealed in paper bags. On my right, however, was a debate between a group of friends over the circumstances someone should be called a doctor after receiving a degree from a university.

If you’re not already aware, SkyTrain uses the honour system — there are no turnstiles to go through after purchasing your fare. During the rush hour in spring 2004, I had the misfortune of striking up a conversation with another rider on my way downtown for school. He went on and on about how he’s never purchased a ticket and that the transit police are always out to get him (I wonder why?). As the packed train stopped at the Patterson station, two officers poked their heads into the car to make sure everything was OK and not to check tickets. The guy saw them and bolted through the open doors onto the platform before the cops shouted at him and gave chase. I think they’ve met each other a couple times before.

Headed downtown on a sunny late May morning, I picked some nice seats that had a view of a couple people going into Vancouver for, as they were loudly stating, the Roger Waters concert later that evening. It’s about 10:30 am or so, and I can tell they’re already drunk. Not only can I hear it, I can smell the cheap beer stagnating in the car. They weren’t being abusive to any of the other passengers, and no-one intervened or complained, so I got some cheap entertainment. I hope they had fun at their concert.

I have contributed to the oddities on SkyTrain too. Wearing a costume while taking the train down to Waterfront to check out Fan Expo Vancouver always invites interesting stares and comments. So, if you ever see Soul Eater or Naruto (or maybe someone else!), it might just be me.

I know this didn’t happen on SkyTrain, or in Vancouver for that matter, but I need to share it. Back in 2009, a friend and I were taking the Brown Line in Chicago to visit a friend, when a man sitting across from us noticed we were wearing anime t-shirts. He asked if we were fans of anime and then proceeded to explain that he was working on the follow-up series to Avatar: The Last Airbender. Stupidly, we got off the train a station after the conversation started instead of staying on board to learn more. What we heard would end up becoming The Legend of Korra which just launched on Nickelodeon in April of this year.

Stuff like this just doesn’t happen everyday!

Why the Canada Line froze up

Snow is synonymous with Canada, but this morning’s snow and the Canada Line did not mix. So why is snow and ice such a frustration with rapid transit lines?

Canada Line tracks
The third rail is near the top with the yellow cover.

First of all, snow and ice can affect how the trains get their power. The Canada Line runs off a single third rail using a shoe that glides across the top. During inclement weather, snow and ice can build up causing trains to lose electricity and thus stop moving. The Expo and Millennium lines are not susceptible to this type of interference because the power rails are mounted horizontally over each other. The trains that operate on these two lines use collection shoes that collect electricity from the sides of the power rails, rather than the top.

There are multiple ways to mitigate the problem. Other systems, such as the Chicago ‘L’, use sleet scrapers which brush snow and other obstacles off the third rail ahead of the collection shoe. A deicing solution can also be  sprayed onto the third rail to prevent ice from forming and interfering with the electrical pickup. Alternatively, frequent use helps to lower the risk of build up. TransLink already does this by running “ghost trains” which are effectively empty trains around the system to assist in reducing the build up of snow.

Another common issue is that snow and ice accumulate between switch points which is critical at major junctions or turn-arounds. The Expo and Millennium Lines utilize a seamless type of switch, called a swingnose, that closes all openings to allow a smoother trip. The switch points must move all at once — snow and ice can get caught in the gaps and prevent the switch points from making full contact with the rails. This can be disastrous if a train crosses over where the points have not fully closed.

Frequent use should help keep the switch clear, but a switch heater may be employed to keep the rails warm so that snow or ice doesn’t build up. As a last resort, human intervention may be required.

There’s no perfect solution to prevent snow (or any type of weather) from making the trip troublesome. TransLink has posted a press release on their winter contingency plans for 2010. Besides, it could always be worse.

Taking the Apple Line

Nephrus CTA station
Armitage is now Nephrus.

Ever since Apple contributed to the renovation of the North/Clybourn station on the Red Line, Chicagoans have wondered if the Chicago Transit Authority would let the electronics company rename the station. The CTA is investigating the ability to sell the naming rights to its stations and routes in hopes of increasing revenue for the embattled agency.

The idea would be to allow corporate sponsors purchase the naming rights to L stations and lines and bus routes. While the CTA is open to suggestions, it’s possible that North/Clybourn might become the Apple station (if not already nicknamed that).

The only downside might be for passengers who are unfamiliar with the system and could become confused or lost due to odd station or route names.

Nephrus is next. Doors open on the right at Nephrus.

I don’t think that’s in the web site’s budget.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago ‘L’ photos

Adams/Wabash transfer bridge
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.

CTA transit map
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.

Third rail collector shoeA Purple Line train passes AddisonWrigley Field from the Addison station
Brown Line leaving ArmitageGarfield station signJackson platform on the Red Line
Green Line train crosses the Chicago RiverBlue Line at O'Hare stationElevated structure under Quincy station
3200-series train at ArmitagePlatform at QuincyA 2200-series train at O'Hare

Note: These photos were taken over a period of three years during various trips down to Chicago.

System information courtesy of Chicago ‘L’.org

The Chicago-style hot dog

Chicago-style hot dog from Gold Coast Dogs
Chicago-style hot dog from Gold Coast Dogs

It isn’t a trip to Chicago without sampling some of their unique cuisine – one of which being their famous take on an American tradition: the hot dog. The Chicago-style hot dog looks intimidating, seeing as the bun and wiener are laden with enough colourful toppings to evoke the term “dragged through the garden.”

The hot dog is an all beef wiener, most often of the Vienna Beef brand, which is a local company founded back in the 1890s. The wiener can be steamed, boiled or grilled before being placed in a steamed poppy seed bun with the following toppings: yellow mustard, sweet neon green relish, chopped onions, single pickle spear, tomato wedges, sport peppers and celery salt. Under no circumstances is ketchup to be placed on the hot dog.

You can find hot dog vendors all over Chicago from the street corners to Wrigley Field. I finally had my first Chicago-style hot dog from Gold Coast Dogs at Union Station – and it was delicious. My friends enjoyed my reaction to the sport peppers when I bit into them, but overall it was really tasty. The Chicago-style is probably the best tasting hot dog with its fresh and distinctive flavours.

CTA unveils new 5000-series cars

Chicago commuters, rejoice! The CTA is rolling out the long awaited 5000-series rail cars on the Red Line in the coming weeks. Currently, the Red Line runs the 2600-series cars, most of which date back to the early 1980s. The 5000-series will be tested on the other lines as well to ensure they are able to handle rush hour crowds and the city’s temperamental weather.

While the new cars have the appearance of the existing 3200-series that are already in service on the Brown, Orange and Yellow Lines, there are many distinct amenities on-board. New digital destination signs replace the familiar coloured roller curtains, improved lighting inside with glow-in-the-dark flooring to assist in alighting during emergencies, security cameras for enhanced passenger safety, interior destination displays with electronic maps, and updated air conditioning and heating elements for comfort. The side doors have been revised with enhanced sensors and visual displays to alert passengers when they are about to close. For passengers using wheelchairs, new spaces have been provided to allow handicapped passengers enjoy a safer ride.

Another major change is an updated seating arrangement — instead of the traditional forward/backward facing seats, the seats will face the aisle to allow more standing passengers. As a result, additional stanchions have been added to accommodate support for commuters that are holding on.

The Bombardier-built 5000-series will eventually replace the ageing 2200 and 2400-series which have been in service since the late 1960s and mid-1970s respectively.

Check out the photos of the new 5000-series cars on CTA’s flickr photostream. View the full press release on the CTA web site.