Red Line: State Street Subway


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Service Notes:

Hours of Operation: Service at all times
Length of Route: 4.9 miles
Number of Stations: 9 stations
Car Types Assigned: 5000-series
(see Car Assignment sheet for latest car assignments)


Brief Description:

Two subway lines included in the Initial System of Subways plan, the State Street Subway and Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway, were designed to accommodate crosstown routes through downtown. The State Street Subway was meant to accommodate the North-South through-routes.

Federal dollars made available by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal programs during the Great Depression made the construction of the subways possible, allowing Chicago to carry out a civic improvement it'd long planned for but been able to get off the ground. In 1937, the city applied to the federal Works Progress Administration for a grant and loan for subway construction and both were approved.

On Saturday, December 17, 1938, Chicago broke ground for the new subways at the corner of Chicago and State. Chicago built its subways using the deep bore method. Each subway line has two tubes, one per track in each direction, each dug with its own boring shield twenty-five feet in diameter. To make the journey under the river, a 200-foot long steel and concrete tube was constructed at a South Chicago shipyard, floated up to downtown, lowered into a trench in the riverbed, and connected to the subway tunnels inside cofferdams built along the banks of the river in the fall of 1939. The only sections constructed by the "cut-and-cover" method were the station mezzanines, crossovers between the tunnels, and short distances just before the subway portals as the tubes ascend to ground level to connect to the elevated.

After five years of construction, Chicago's first subway was ready for operation. The city staged a celebration for the opening of the State Street Subway on October 16, 1943. Celebrations were held all throughout the subway. Between 10:25 and 10:45am, ten special trains arrived at State and Madison to unload their passengers. At 10:47am, Mayor Kelly cut a ceremonial red, white, and blue ribbon strung across the northbound track, officially giving the new subway to the city. The State Street Subway officially opened for revenue service after midnight on October 17, 1943.


Important Dates:



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