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Chicago Transit Authority "L" System

Chicago Transit Authority

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: August 12, 2006 - 2012

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and Videos
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and Links

Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Chicago Transit Authority) Over Various Streets of Chicago
Location
Chicago: Cook County, Illinois: United States
Structure Type
Metal Rivet-Connected Warren Deck Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Deck Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: Various Builders

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
Spans
Main Span Count Not Available
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

Visit Chicago "L".org, A Detailed Website About The Chicago "L"

View A Historical 1895 Article About The Chicago "L"

View A Historical 1908 Article About Problems Identified With The Chicago "L"

View A Historical Pamphlet of Photographs Showing Mass Transit In Chicago Over Its History

Visit The Chicago Transit Authority Website

The Chicago "L" and Its Bridge Significance

Most people probably do not think of the Chicago's elevated railroad transit system, commonly called "The L", as a bridge, but much of it is in fact a giant, continuous grade separation... a very long bridge that winds through the city. Most sections of the "L" consist of either Warren deck truss spans or deck plate girder spans, and these spans are generally supported by steel bents, which sometimes have rather elaborate designs to make them fit into the city and work to support the "L" and its stations properly. Both substructure and superstructure are composed of riveted steel, and built-up beams are frequently employed on the bents. The central core of the system in the Loop consists of the Warren deck truss spans. Much of the elevated railroad system has a great deal of historic value, despite widespread and continuing alterations to the original design and materials. Different parts of the system were originally owned by different companies, and today these are all unified under Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) ownership. Parts of this elevated rail system are extremely old, dating to around 1895, those sections being among the oldest elevated rail lines in the world. Others sections are newer, or have been replaced with new steel beam structures.  The stations for the Chicago "L" tend to be the most heavily altered parts of the system. Many historic stations have been demolished and replaced. However, many historic stations also remain, and despite alterations, are important visual reminder's to Chicago's long history  of providing light rail transportation to its residents and visitors. Chicago actually partially owes its extremely dense urban core of skyscrapers to the "L" which enabled unusually large numbers of people to easily access the downtown area. The Chicago "L" gets across the Chicago River via the Wells Street Bridge and the Lake Street Bridge. The section of railroad that runs over Wells Street south of the Wells Street Bridge is really interesting, and retains a great deal of historic integrity.

Additional HistoricBridges.org "L" Coverage

Some segments of the Chicago "L," passing over more significant obstacles, are larger and stray enough from the usual sections of "L" that they warranted consideration as individual bridges. As such, they have been listed as individual bridges and given their own Bridge Browser Page. The following is a list of links to those structures.

Congress Parkway Overpass Bridge

Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation

HAER has documented a number of Chicago "L" stations. Links to the extensive documentation are offered below.

Union Loop Documentation - HAER Data Pages, PDF - HAER Drawings, PDF

Clark Street Station Documentation - HAER Data Pages, PDF

Adams Street Station Documentation - HAER Data Pages, PDF

Quincy Street Station Documentation - HAER Data Pages, PDF

Randolph and Wabash Station Documentation - HAER Data Pages, PDF

Randolph and Wells Station Documentation - HAER Data Pages, PDF - HAER Drawings, PDF

State and Van Buren Station Documentation - HAER Data Pages, PDF

Madison and Wells Station Documentation - HAER Drawings, PDF

State and Lake Station Documentation - HAER Data Pages, PDF

Madison and Wabash Station Documentation - HAER Drawings, PDF

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Chicago Transit Authority "L" System

 
View Photo Gallery
General Views
Original / Full Size Photos
An assortment of photos that show various trackage, supports, and details. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
General Views
Mobile Optimized Photos
An assortment of photos that show various trackage, supports, and details. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
State and Lake
Original / Full Size Photos
Built in 1895, this is one of the oldest stations on the system and despite alteration retains several unique details including ornate railings and supports with cast details. Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
State and Lake
Mobile Optimized Photos
Built in 1895, this is one of the oldest stations on the system and despite alteration retains several unique details including ornate railings and supports with cast details. Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Quincy
Original / Full Size Photos
This station was built in 1897 and is one of the only stations that has been officially designated as historic and has been preserved with an eye toward maintaining its historic appearance. Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Quincy
Mobile Optimized Photos
This station was built in 1897 and is one of the only stations that has been officially designated as historic and has been preserved with an eye toward maintaining its historic appearance. Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Adams and Wabash Station
Original / Full Size Photos
Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Adams and Wabash Station
Mobile Optimized Photos
Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Conservatory Station
Original / Full Size Photos
Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Conservatory Station
Mobile Optimized Photos
Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Damen O\'Hare Branch
Original / Full Size Photos
Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Damen O\'Hare Branch
Mobile Optimized Photos
Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
IIT
Original / Full Size Photos
Trackage, supports, and details in the vicinity of Illinois Institute of Technology. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
IIT
Mobile Optimized Photos
Trackage, supports, and details in the vicinity of Illinois Institute of Technology. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
La Salle and Van Buren
Original / Full Size Photos
Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
La Salle and Van Buren
Mobile Optimized Photos
Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Madison and Wabash
Original / Full Size Photos
Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Madison and Wabash
Mobile Optimized Photos
Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Randolph and Wabash
Original / Full Size Photos
Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Randolph and Wabash
Mobile Optimized Photos
Overview and detail photos of the station. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer

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Maps and Links: Chicago Transit Authority "L" System

Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):
41.885770,-87.627960

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