Historic "L" Station Tour 2000 


"Your attention please...": Graham Garfield of Chicago-L.org makes announcements and gives commentary over the PA on this trip. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

The 2nd Annual Historic "L" Station Tour, presented by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, in cooperation with Chicago-L.org and the Chicago Design Consortium, occurred Sunday, November 19, 2000.

This was the second year the tour was conducted. The previous year's presenters -- Graham Garfield of Chicago-L.org; Kent Haag of the IHPA; John Craib-Cox of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois; and Keith Letsche, Assistant Attorney-General of Illinois -- all returned the second year, along with new presenter, Peter Vesic of IRM's Car Department.

This year, the tour chartered a pair of 2200-series cars, the CTA's oldest operating cars and the last remaining cars with folding blinker doors, to take the tour, rather than use regular operating trains as done previously. The tour was deemed a success, with higher attendance than the first year, a number of special events during the program, and praise from the tour's participants.

The 2nd Annual tour explored different lines from the previous year, focusing primarily on the O'Hare and Douglas branches of the Blue Line, the Lake Street branch of the Green Line, and the Loop Elevated. It also traveled across the nonrevenue Paulina Connector twice during the tour.

Tour participants walk around outside the Western (Douglas) station, led by the tour guides, including Keith Letsche (left). For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

Graham Garfield discusses station history at Madison/Wabash, with co-guide Keith Letsche (left). For a larger view, click here. (Photo by Linda Garfield)

Each time the tour stopped at a station, a talk was given on the history of the station, its architecture, the history of the line, and other relevant information. Participants could listen to the talk or just take photos at each stop.

The tour began with a historical overview at the Adam-Jackson mezzanine at Jackson/Dearborn on the Blue Line. Participants then boarded the charter train at 10:30am and proceeded to Damen/Milwaukee, while additional commentary was given over the PA system en route. After touring this classic 1895 Met facility, the tour proceeded back through the subway to the nonrevenue Paulina Connector and on to the Ashland/Lake Green Line station. The tour then proceeded to the Loop, where LaSalle/Van Buren and Madison/Wabash were inspected by the tour and many photo opportunities were presented. A special treat was provided at Madison/Wabash, where participants were allowed to tour the interior of the 1897-vinatge inner Loop station house, now out of service but still used by CTA personnel for offices.

The tour continued on to the Douglas Branch (via the Green Line and Paulina Connector), where a number of special events were staged for the benefit of the tour. At Polk station, the four-car train was split into two two-car 2200-series trains! The trains then proceeded side-by-side to Western station, where the cars were posed together for photos (an unusual sight these days on the CTA!) and the "tourists" could go downstairs into the station to hear about the history and architectural significance of the unusual Art Deco facility. Additional photo and commentary stops were made at the equally historic Kedzie and California stations. The trains then "raced" (as much as can be possible where there is a 15mph speed restriction) to Pulaski, where the cars could cross over and be reattached into a four-car train. The tour then proceeded back over the Douglas branch to Racine station, where the tour participants disembarked.

Tour-takers enjoyed the trip, which provided many unique looks at Chicago rapid transit history.

Chicago-L.org would like to extend special thanks to the Chicago Transit Authority, trip supervisor John Blum, and all the participating employees who were very cooperative, helpful, and flexible, helping to make the tour the success that it was. Without the CTA's assistance, little of this would have been possible.


To see the handout that was provided for all tour participants, click here!


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John Craib-Cox of the Chicago Design Consortium discusses the engineering of the historic elevated structure outside the Damen/Milwaukee station house. (Photo by Linda Garfield)

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Graham Garfield of Chicago-L.org talks about the history of the Metropolitan "L", Damen station, and the former Humboldt Park branch that used to connect just north of the station. (Photo by Linda Garfield)

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Graham Garfield explains a bit about the structure's history outside Damen as tourgoers listen attentively. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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John Craib-Cox explains some of the architectural and engineering detail behind the platform canopy structure at Damen. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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Keith Letsche speaks inside the historic 1897 station house at Madison/Wabash. (Photo by Tony Coppoletta)

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The tour group looks around the northbound platform at Damen. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The tour group gathers for a few more words on the southbound Damen platform while waiting for the charter train to return for the trip back downtown and to the Paulina Connector. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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On board the charter train, a CTA crewman talks to some of the tour participants. (Photo by Linda Garfield)

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The 2200-series charter train stops at LaSalle/Van Buren while the group walks around the Outer Loop platform and hears a historical and architectural talk inside the vintage station house. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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CTA crewman manually align the switches at Paulina Junction, where the Paulina Connector meets the Lake Street branch of the Green Line, while the 2200-series charter train waits. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The tour group gathers outside the Western station on the Douglas branch to hear comments from the tour guides. (Photo by Linda Garfield)

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The two 2200-series charter units pose side-by-side at the Western station on the Douglas branch while some members of the tour group walk around the station. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The two 2200-series charter units pose side-by-side at the California station on the Douglas branch, with some members of the tour group watching the positioning. (Photo by Graham Garfield)

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The tour group, after hearing some remarks from the guides, walk around the Kedzie (Douglas) station on their own before returning to the charter train to move on. (Photo by Linda Garfield)