Today, the Chicago Transit Authority celebrates the 20th anniversary of direct service to O'Hare International Airport. The opening of the O'Hare station was the last link needed to provide direct access between the airport and downtown Chicago for air travelers as well as airport employees. Formerly known as the West-Northwest Line, the branch has since been renamed the O'Hare branch of the Blue Line.
The CTA's extension to O'Hare spurred business development by providing a direct connection between the local workforce and jobs. In addition to providing fast, convenient and economical service, the connection also has provided visitors arriving at O'Hare with easy access to downtown, the Loop and dining and entertainment venues.
The late former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and former Governor James R. Thompson were on hand September 3, 1984 to mark the historic opening. They joined CTA officials and approximately 600 dignitaries for the first 2.5-mile ride from the River Road station into the new O'Hare terminal.
The 7.9-mile extension from Jefferson Park to O'Hare was built by the Chicago Department of Public Works at a cost of $198.9 million, paid for entirely by federal and state funding. Construction began on the first segment ? Jefferson Park to River Road (now Rosemont) ? in March 1980 and was completed on February 27, 1983. The segment included stations at Harlem, Cumberland and River Road. The final segment of the extension was completed a year and a half later with the opening of the O'Hare station on September 3, 1984.
Since opening, the O'Hare extension ? O'Hare, Rosemont, Cumberland and Harlem stations ? has provided a total of 133.4 million rides.
CTA Blue Line trains run 24-hours-a-day, every day between O'Hare, downtown and Forest Park, and weekdays between O'Hare, downtown and 54th/Cermak. Trips on the Blue Line between O'Hare and downtown take approximately 45 minutes.# # #