North-South Through Routing


After "L" operations were consolidated under the Chicago Elevated Railway Collateral Trust in 1911, the city's attention was quickly turned to the through-routing of trains and the issuance of free ("universal") transfers. The Loop was terribly congested (since all trains terminated there) and riders and politicians like had been unhappy with the need to pay a second fare when transferring to another line for some time. On May 12, 1912 the Chicago City Council tried to force the issue by passing an ordinance giving the CER just 10 days to institute free transfers. The action was, of course, overturned in court (though not until 1914, by which time they'd already been enacted and the whole point was moot anyway).

In the meantime, the CER brokered a deal with the city. They'd through-route north and south side trains and issue universal transfers if the city would allow the CER to finish the Loop platform extensions they'd halted years before. The city also wanted CER chairman Samuel Insull to agree to eventually abandon to Loop and route trains into a proposed subway system. An agreement could not be reached on this and it was dropped from the final ordinance.

On July 21, 1913, the through-routing ordinance was passed. It allowed the CER to finish the Loop platforms lengthening, as well to ability lengthen any other platforms outside the Loop to accommodate an eight-car train. It also allowed the construction of transfer bridges in the Loop (there were none previously) and additional stairways to Loop stations.

Crosstown service began November 3, 1913. The early through routes were as follows:

The first train left Stony Island for Linden at 6:28 a.m. on November 3rd. In the Loop, all trains began operating in a counterclockwise manner, with Northwestern and South Side trains on the outer track and Metropolitan and Oak Park trains on the inner track. North-South trains operated northbound via Wabash Avenue and Lake Street, while southbound they operated via Fifth Avenue (now Wells Street) and Van Buren Street.

Evanston-Jackson Park and Englewood-Wilson Expresses operated daily. Initially there was also a Wilson-South Park local service, run daily except Sunday, but this was short-lived. South Park (on the Jackson Park branch) was an unusual choice for a terminus since there was no crossover there and it was only four stops from the end of the line (Stony Island) anyway. Since Ravenswood traffic was a little heavier than Kenwood traffic, some Ravenswood trains were turned back in the Loop. Early on, there were also a few Ravenswood trips that terminated at 61st Street instead of Kenwood.


CRT Revamps Crosstown Service

On February 23, 1931, the Chicago Rapid Transit made a few changes to crosstown service. The Wilson-Englewood and Ravenswood-Kenwood through-routes were swopped. To better adjust to the traffic patterns, these through-routes were only in effect in rush hour; at all other times, the trains terminated in the Loop. On the Jackson Park-Evanston and Jackson Park-Howard trains, the hours of express service was reduced. North-South service was now as follows:


The State Street Subway Opens

With the opening of the State Street Subway on October 17, 1943 the Loop's severe congestion could finally be relieved. Jackson Park-Evanston/Howard and Englewood/Normal Park-Ravenswood trains were rerouted to the new subway. Englewood and Ravenswood trains were through-routed at all times from then one, as were the Kenwood-Wilson trains. To serve the busier North Side stations, the Wilson-Loop locals were also kept, but the Kenwood-Indiana shuttle was discontinued until 1949.

The entire Niles Center Line was discontinued in 1948 when the CTA replaced the service with buses. The new crosstown routings were:


North-South Route car card map, installed in the ad sash inside railcars, dating from 1978.

The North-South Route

On August 1, 1949, the CTA instituted its massive North-South service revision. Service was streamlined into the following routes: Howard-Englewood, Howard-Jackson Park, Ravenswood (Kimball-Loop), and Evanston (Linden-Howard during non-rush hours, Linden-Loop during rush); as well as the following shuttles: Kenwood (42nd-Indiana), Stock Yards (Stock Yards-Indiana), and Normal Park (69th Street-Harvard). A/B skip stop service is instituted on the Howard, Englewood, Jackson Park and Ravenswood routes, and 23 low-use stations are closed: Ravenswood, Buena, Clark, Grace, Wrightwood, Webster, Halsted, Larrabee & Ogden, Schiller, Division, Oak, Grand, Roosevelt, 18th, 26th, 29th, 31st, 33rd, Pershing, Princeton and Parnell, as well as the Congress Street and North Water Street stub terminals.

The Howard-Englewood-Jackson Park Line (also known as the North-South Route) was routed through the State Street Subway at all times, while the Ravenswood and Evanston Express services were permanently placed on the Loop elevated. The outlying branches were never to reach the Loop (directly) again, waiting out their lives until they were each eventually abandoned.

The lines were now as follows:


The CTA Revises North-South Through Routing

In 1992, the CTA began planning to repair the crosstown services. By repairing the Howard and Dan Ryan Lines, which had similarly high ridership levels, the CTA would run a more effect service, with fewer trains empty at one end of the line and full at the other. It also allowed the CTA to lower service levels on the repaired Lake-Englewood-Jackson Park, which had a lower ridership level.

To make the new routing most efficient, the CTA constructed a new tunnel, connecting the 13th Street interlocking south of the Roosevelt/State station to the Dan Ryan Line, connecting just north of the Cermak-Chinatown station. The new routings were effective February 21, 1993. On that date, the Lake Street Line, formally through-routed with the Dan Ryan Line, was linked to the Englewood-Jackson Park Line, forming the new "Green Line".