[VIDEO] I'm a fan of Graham Garfield's Chicago-L.org. This site has been a must visit since I attended community college in downtown Chicago. The L had become a daily routine at that point and now I had the time to find a site about the history of Chicago's L-trains in a computer lab. Of course looking up information on CTA trains instead of actually doing class work.
Tuesday we marked a milestone on February 20, 1993 the Chicago Transit Authority coded their train lines with a color. Before 1993 lines were known by their geographical designations. For example the Red Line used to be Englewood-Jackson Park-Howard then changed to Dan Ryan-Howard in 1993 which is the current Red Line. Another designation for CTA trains were direction for example the Red Line would've also been known as the North-South line.
Now the Dan Ryan is the train I would take every day and takes its designation from the fact that the route runs within the middle of the Dan Ryan Expressway. It's a line I've known most of my life back in the 1980s and early 90s it was designated the West-South line when it was connected with another geographically designated line, Lake. Of course as happens with change Dan Ryan becomes linked with the Howard line, so thus Lake instead gets connected with the Englewood-Jackson Park (aka Cottage Grove today) to become the current CTA Green Line.
Another interesting case the Blue Line was known as the West-Northwest route. And like the Green Line at one point has three lines also designated with geographic names Congress-Douglas-O'Hare connected through downtown in a subway - just like the Red Line incidentally. Anyway by 2006 the Douglas became the Pink Line which on later maps became known as the Cermak route which is routed into the Loop elevated tracks through the Paulina connector. This was as opposed to the connection through downtown to O'Hare.
Ah you notice a pattern here? When I say geographic what does this actually mean? It could mean a neighborhood, it could mean a street, it could also mean a park, or an airport. I suppose whatever is nearby.
For example, I could surmise that the Douglas line was named for a west side park known as Douglas Park (though it also runs along Cermak Road hence the Cermak line designation). The Congress line which actually runs in the middle of the Eisenhower expressway was named for the street that leads into the Ike - well the Ike used to be known as the Congress expressway. One upon a time the O'Hare line was know as the Milwaukee branch because that branch used to run along Milwaukee Avenue. Also the Jackson Park line used to run all the way to the edge of Jackson Park, however, over the years the line got contracted until the eastern terminal of the Green Line became Cottage Grove.
Through Chicago-L.org I see an evolution of the CTA L system. It continues to evolve as I hope the Red Line is extended south from 95/Dan Ryan station to go further south into Roseland. There are some lines I wish CTA had the foresight to continue. On the other hand it can be on it's best days the best way to see Chicago, and of course there are times where it's not so great!