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.”


70th Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, October 1, we will be celebrating its 70th Anniversary at the Daley Plaza from 10 am to 2 pm Participants will have the opportunity to take a ride on 4000-series trains from 1923 as well as 2400-series rail cars from 1976, which will be making trips around the Loop. Additionally, a vintage bus from 1960 (#8499) will also be providing rides.

The event also includes the Community Connection bus, where participants can learn more about CTA, pick up a map or route schedule or simply charge their phone as they watch a historical video featuring our bus and rail system.

4000-series cars
4000-series railcars (from 1923)
2400-series railcars (from 1976)
Bus 8499
Bus #8499 (from 1960)



How to Ride

If you would like to be one of the first to ride the 4000-series train or Bus 8499 you'll need to obtain a special commemorative ticket.

On October 1, beginning at 9:30 am, customers can stop by the Community Connection bus at Daley Plaza--there you will find a table marked “shuttle ride tickets.” There will be four ticketed trips each for the 4000-series railcars and bus #8499.

Only one ticket will be provided per person for those who want to be the first to ride the 4000-series train or bus 8499 for their ticketed trips, which will board from the Inner Loop platform at Clark/Lake (Orange, Pink and 63rd-bound Green Line platform, accessed most directly via the James R. Thompson Center station entrance).

Those interested in riding the 2400-series rail cars from 1976 won't need a ticket and can begin taking the train from the Clark/Lake Inner Loop platform (Orange, Pink and 63rd-bound Green Line platform, accessed most directly via the James R. Thompson Center station entrance), starting at 11 am.

Once the 4000-series train's ticketed trips have completed, both the 4000-series and 2400-series trains will continue around the Inner Loop stop at all stations, until 2 pm, and anyone will be able to board either train.

Similarly, once all ticket-holders for the vintage bus have taken a ride, the rest of the participants can ride the bus until the event ends at 2 pm.

Vintage Vehicle Rules
  • Only ONE ticket per person so all participants have the chance to ride the vintage vehicles.
  • Only ONE trip per person. Once your vehicle returns to its designated area (Clark/Lake station for rail, Washington/Dearborn for bus) please exit the vehicle so others may have the opportunity to enjoy.
  • Stay with your designated group ticket color. If you are attempting to board with a different color ticket than the one called, you will be denied entry into the vehicle until it is your turn.
  • Those riding on the vintage trains will need to tap their Ventra cards to enter the Clark/Lake Station.
  • Vintage bus rides are complimentary
Where to catch the trains (Both 4000-series and 2400-series)
  • Walk to the Clark/Lake Station, located 3 minutes away from the Daley Plaza
  • Use the James R. Thompson Center entrance on the south side of Lake Street (between Clark and LaSalle Streets) to enter the station (you'll need to pay a fare to enter the station)
  • Follow signs to the Orange, Pink, Purple and 63rd-bound Green Line trains - for 4000-series boarding, look for special signs
  • Show your color-coded ticket to the conductor or CTA employee who is assisting with boarding
  • Enjoy your ride!
Where to catch the bus
  • Walk to the Loop Link platform located across the street from Daley Plaza at the corner of Washington/Dearborn
  • Wait on the east end of the Loop Link platform until the vintage bus arrives
  • There will be attendants as well as signs that say “Board Here” to guide you
  • Show your color-coded ticket to the conductor or CTA employee who is assisting with boarding
  • Enjoy your ride!


Speaking Program - 10am

In addition to hearing a few words from CTA President Dorval R. Carter, who will discuss the history of the CTA as well as its bright future, we have Lee Crooks, “The Voice of the CTA”, who will comment on his contribution to the rail system by being its literal “spokesperson” – It is his recorded voice that calls out rail stops throughout the system.

Lee Crooks – “The Voice of the CTA”


Tim Samuelson, a well-respected cultural historian from the Chicago Cultural Museum will also be present to talk about how CTA was instrumental in building Chicago as an economic and cultural powerhouse.

Tim Samuelson – Cultural Historian


Russell Lewis, Executive Vice President and Chief Historian of the amazing Chicago History Museum, will also be joining us this Sunday to discuss his thoughts about the historical impact of the Chicago Transit Authority

Russell Lewis - Executive Vice President and Chief Historian, Chicago History Museum

Finally, we will have married couple Eric D’Asto and Sandra Grigoletti present to talk about their decision to exchange vows on a chartered CTA rail car.

Eric D’Asto and Sandra Grigoletti – Married on a CTA train in October 2016


Keepsake Memorabilia

CTA will be offering posters and commemorative Ventra tickets to mark this celebration.

  • We will distribute 2,000 commemorative posters at the Community Connection bus from 10:45 am to 2 pm
  • Available on a first-come, first-served basis
  • Posters will also be available on for purchase

Ventra Tickets

CTA began selling commemorative Ventra tickets on September 20 at the following locations:

  • Red Line: Belmont (Red, Brown & Purple Lines), Fullerton (Red, Brown & Purple Lines), Lake, Roosevelt and 95th/Dan Ryan
  • Blue Line: Damen, Clark/Lake and Forest Park
  • Green Line: Conservatory-Central Park Drive, Garfield and Ashland
  • Purple Line: Linden
  • Brown Line: Merchandise Mart and Kimball
  • Loop Elevated: Clark/Lake, Quincy and Washington/Wabash
  • Pink Line: Kedzie
  • Orange Line: Roosevelt


Other Activities

In addition to riding the vintage vehicles, CTA has also invited subway performers, Remedy, an acapella group as well as the Red Line Lounge Band to entertain us during the celebration. These artists are a unique and creative part of the transit experience as they play for passengers waiting to board or exit our trains.

The CTA will have face painters at Daley Plaza from 9:30 am until 2 pm for children

Members of The Remedy

Members of Red Line Lounge Band


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

History of the CTA since 1947

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.

125th Anniversary ‘L’ Rides - June 6, 2017

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. A year later service was extended to bring passengers to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Jackson Park.

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


Photo gallery

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

New: Check out some Then & Now images on this special page!

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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