The CTA Elevated system is as much a symbol of Chicago as the Lakefront, the Chicago Theater or any of our major sports franchises. As you travel through neighborhoods across the city you will frequently hear the sound of moving trains. Sometimes you catch a glimpse between two buildings when you did not know it was there. Due to this omnipresence “the El” is a deeply integrated part of the city’s personality. Every time you hear or see it you know that people are going places and doing things.
During the 1960’s and 1970’s serious consideration was given to demolishing the central section, know as “the Loop”. Motivation seems to have centered around improving transit service and replacing deteriorating steel. Discussion was abandoned in 1979 due to lack of political consensus, historical preservation interest and escalating project costs.
Today the future of the Loop seems secure. Starting in the 1980’s old stations have been renovated or replaced. Deteriorating sections of the structure have been maintained and it has been repainted. A new station was built at State and Van Buren in 1997, coinciding with construction of the adjacent Harold Washington Library. New service was added by the Orange Line in 1993 and the Pink Line in 2006. The entire downtown district encircled by the Elevated was added to the National Register of Historic Preservation in 1998.
People have been using the Loop to get around since the last section opened over 100 years ago. It seems likely at this point that people will continue to do so for another 100.
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