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CTA - Chicago 'L'


CTA 'L' train on Chicago Loop

CTA 'L' train, running on the Wells Street part of the Chicago Loop. Meanwhile an eastbound #56 Milwaukee CTA bus on Washington Street passes under the train.

Chicago Transit Authority


BH Photo #523474

Street View 


Elevated viaduct and tunnel system carrying busy Chicago Transit Authority passenger trains throughout Chicago and several neighboring suburbs. The correct name of the system is 'L' (Capital L surrounded by single quotation marks). The map location above is CTA Headquarters, which is at the Clinton station on the Green and Pink Lines.

The interconnected elevated bridge portions of the CTA 'L' could be considered one of the longest bridges in the world, at about 40 miles long. This does not count subway, ground level, or solid embankment portions of the total 102.8 mile CTA. This would be the 7th longest bridge in the world, and 1st longest in the United States. These interconnected portions are the Chicago Loop, the entire length of the Green Line, the Red Line from Leland to Fullerton, the Brown Line from Western to Chicago Loop, the Pink Line from Pulaski to Chicago Loop, and the Orange Line from Canal to Chicago Loop.

All lines are interconnected, allowing rolling stock to be rotated throughout the system. Example in Photo #3.

The Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad operated its trains over portions of the CTA until its demise in 1963. Its tracks from Howard Street to Skokie then became the modern CTA Yellow Line.

Includes many notable individual bridges, two of which are moveable bascule bridges, and several which no longer exist. These individual bridges are listed in category "Chicago Transit Authority".


Viaduct and tunnel system across entire City of Chicago on Chicago Transit Authority
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
Open to traffic
Future prospects
Red Line between Belmont and Howard currently under major reconstruction. Red Line to be extended south from 95th Street.

Various proposals for new lines such as Circle Line, and incorporation of Metra Electric Line as Grey Line.

Built in stages 1892 to 2021. CTA created October 1, 1947 by combining all previous rapid transit lines.
- Chicago Rapid Transit Company (CRT)
- Chicago Surface Lines (CSL)
- Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
- Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad (CNSM)
- Lake Street Elevated Railroad (LSER)
- Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad (Met; MWSER)
- Rapid Transit
- South Side Elevated Railroad
Continuous viaduct and tunnel system, a variety of designs, incorporating many individual bridges, two of which are moveable bascule bridges.
Total length: 542,784.0 ft. (102.8 mi.)
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.88555, -87.64252   (decimal degrees)
41°53'08" N, 87°38'33" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/446692/4637268 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 65895 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • March 6, 2022: Added by Roger Deschner