A Chicago Hub Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
The Chicago Rapid Transit Railway
(The EL)

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The Chicago Rapid Transit System, (the EL), was a primary system of electric urban service for Chicago. It extended to outlying communities such as Evanston, Skokie, Oak Park, River Forest, Cicero, Berwyn and Forest Park so we include it here as one of Chicago's 30's and 40's railroads. It is currently still in operation as part of the Chicago Transit Authority. The system was developed in the period from 1888 to 1909, first as a group of separate railroad entities, building lines to various parts of the city on Elevated structures. The South Side Rapid Transit Railroad was first building south from near downtown Chicago, followed by the Lake Street Elevated Railway building west along Lake Street. The Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad built slightly southwest

Chicago Rapid Transit
1938 Map Cover
to Douglas and Garfield Parks and Northwest Logan Square and Humboldt Park. The Northwest Elevated Railroad built north and northwest. The Union Loop completed the Loop structure which consolidated the terminal and transfer points for the four entities, which combined in 1924 to become the Chicago Rapid Transit Railroad. The EL companies did a good job of expanding outward from the central city as population moved outward. The CRT, in the 30's and 40's provided frequent and efficient transportation, above street level for most of the way, to its limited urban and suburban destinations, and does to to this day as the Chicago Transit Authority.
The later construction of two subway lines, north to south, under downtown Chicago have since relieved the loop congestion.
Short History of the South Side Rapid Transit Railroad

1888 - Chartered to build from Congress St. to 39th Street (City limits at that time)
1892 - Steam trains to 39th Street
1893 - Complete to Jackson Park and Columbian Exposition
1897 - Union Loop completed and SS runs around loop with steam power
1898 - First MU electric powered cars employed
1905-07 - Englewood Branch completed
1907- Normal Park and Kenwood branches completed
1908 - Stock Yards branch completed
1911 - Consolidation with other EL lines into Chicago Elevated Railway
1913 - Cross town trains begin
1917 - North Shore line runs to Roosevelt Road

Short History of Lake Street Elevated Railway

1888 - Incorporated to run west to Oak Park
1889 - Construction begins on EL structure
1892 - Now the Lake Street Elevated Railroad
1893 - 1st Steam train to Homan Avenue
1894 - Completed to Laramie Avenue
1896 - MU electric operations. Steam ceases
1897 - Full Loop is utilized
1898-1912 - Branches using Lombard, Cuyler, Harrison, and Randolph streets to reach race track in Harlem (Forest Park), in conjunction with other rail entities, create a growing war with Oak Park. Branches come and go. Are all terminated by 1912
1899-1901 - Line west extended to Harlem
1904 - Reorganized as Chicago and Oak Park Railroad
1910 - Extended to Marengo avenue Forest Park
1911 - Consolidation with other EL lines
1911 - C&OP goes into receivership

Short History of Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad

1892 - Incorporated to build EL to West side
1893-1895 - Construction starts and first Garfield Park segment opens
1895 - Logan Square line opens (Actually now to Northwest side)
1896 - Douglas Park line opens
1897 - Line goes into receivership
1897 - Loop utilized
1899 - Reorganized as Metropolitan West Side Railway
1902 - Douglas Park branch extended and Humboldt Park branch opened
1904 - Cars converted to MU operation
1905 - Aurora Elgin & Chicago uses Garfield Park line to enter Chicago
1905 - Met extends to Des Plaines Avenue on Garfield Park branch
1907-1911 - Douglas Park branch extended to Cicero and Central Avenue
1911 - Consolidation with other EL lines
1912-1915 - Douglas Park branch extended to Lombard Avenue
1913 - Cross town service initiated

Short History of the Northwestern Elevated Railroad

1893 - Northwestern Elevated Railroad incorporated
1896 - First steel erected
1896-1899 - Very slow progress
1899 - First train on partially completed on one track few station line
1900 - Four track line to Wilson Avenue completed with motors pulling wooden cars
1905 - Franchise for Ravenswood branch approved
1907 - Ravenswood branch open to Kimball Avenue
1908 - After years of negotiation Northwest operates through to Evanston using CMSP&P tracks with electrification
1908 - North Water Street stub extension opens, relieving Loop congestion
1910 - Elevated track to Evanston completed
1911 - Consolidation with the other EL companies
1913 - Cross town service initiated
1914-1922 - Elevation from Lawrence to Howard Streets is slowly accomplished
1917 - North Shore Line begins running trains to Chicago over Northwestern EL tracks
1920-1928 - Work to complete elevation in Evanston stalled for eight years

Short History of the Chicago Rapid Transit railroad

1924 - The four EL companies are now integrated as one company, The Chicago Rapid Transit (CRT)
1924 - Douglas Park branch extended to Oak Park Avenue
1924-1925 - Extension on north line to Niles Center (Skokie) is completed
1925-1926 - Westchester Branch completed
1926 - Garfield Park branch extended to Roosevelt Road in Westchester
1928-1931 - Elevated tracks extended in Evanston
1930 - Westchester branch extended to Manheim Road
1932 - CRT goes into receivership
1947 - Chicago Transit Authority purchases CRT


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Chicago "L". org (web site)(ce)
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April25, 2009, revised May 7, 2011