cta's 70th anniversary
Celebrating 70 Years

In 1947, a loaf of bread cost 13 cents, a gallon of gas cost 15 cents, and a new car could be purchased for $1,300. Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and “Miracle on 34th Street” debuted.

And in October of that year, buses and trains in Chicago began operating under a new governmental organization: the Chicago Transit Authority.

2017 marks the CTA’s 70th anniversary, and the agency plans a yearlong celebration and recognition of the vital role the CTA has played in the growth and development of Chicago.

“The CTA will forever be woven into the fabric of Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The CTA is not only a celebrated part of our City’s past, but also a key component to our future.”

“For 70 years, Chicagoans have turned to the CTA to get them where they’ve needed to go,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “Our 70th anniversary gives us the chance to not only look back at our proud history, but also to look ahead to the improvements and investments we’re making to serve customers for another 70 years.”

Throughout 2017, the CTA plans a series of events and activities, as well as ridership promotions, contests and giveaways, to celebrate its anniversary. CTA’s Heritage Fleet—consisting of vintage trains and buses—will make a number of public appearances.

The CTA also plans a special celebration to mark the 125th anniversary of the ‘L’ in Chicago, on June 6. The city’s first elevated railway, the historic “Alley ‘L’,” opened in 1892, and a year later was extended to bring passengers to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park.


CTA train and bus in 1970s

125th Anniversary ‘L’ Rides

The first ‘L’ service in Chicago began on June 6, 1892 when a four-car train of wooden cars pulled by a small, coal-burning steam locomotive departed a modest terminal at 39th Street just east of State Street headed for its downtown terminal straight north at Congress Street.

This first segment of the ‘L’ system lives on today as part of the Green Line—the very first portion of the very first line on what’s become a unified system of elevated, at-grade and underground railways that Chicago and neighboring communities have, in many ways, grown up around.

Today’s ‘L’ now has 224.1 miles of track, over which nearly 1,800 train trips are made, logging more than 221,000 miles of travel—all on a typical weekday.

Come ride the trains in our Heritage Fleet and get a commemorative poster downtown on June 6, 2017 at our celebration of 125 years of 'L' service!

Full event information


70th Year Anniversary Event

On October 1, 2017 The Chicago Transit Authority will celebrate 70th years of service.

Before 1947, several privately-owned companies built and operated elevated train, streetcar and bus lines throughout Chicago. These struggling companies competed with each other for riders, in many places offering duplicative service that could be operated more efficiently under one umbrella.

In 1945, the State of Illinois passed an act that created the CTA, which consolidated these systems with the goal of providing one unified transit system, one dedicated to operating more efficiently, modernizing the system and doing so as a rider-focused public service.

CTA officially began operations on October 1, 1947, taking over operations by the Chicago Rapid Transit Company (who ran the ‘L’ system) and the Chicago Surface Lines (who ran the streetcar system and some bus lines). Soon thereafter, a third company, the Chicago Motor Coach Company who ran many bus lines (including a number of lakefront express routes), was later acquired October 1, 1952, completing the consolidation of mass transit in Chicago under the CTA.

This year, we celebrate 70 years since the first services ran under the CTA banner, with special events in the works so you can celebrate with us (and learn more about Chicago transit history).

Details will be posted here as specific events are announced, with the main events centered around our actual anniversary date in October!


Photo gallery

Get the latest historical photos from us—follow us on Instagram!

Also, here's a selection of photos from 70 years of CTA, selected from our historical archives on our Flickr account.

Historical Photo Collection


Video preview

We'll be posting more historical images leading up to the celebration, like these!

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