CTA Celebrates Heritage Fleet Rail Cars’ Centennial

July 27, 2023

Riders will be able to hop aboard the 4000-series train cars 100 years after they first entered into service in Chicago

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is marking the 100 “birthday” of its vintage 4000-series railcars by inviting customers to take a ride back in time.

On Saturday, July 29, the CTA will run the historic 4000-series rail cars around the Loop ‘L’ from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Regular CTA rail fare ($2.50 full fare; $1.25 reduced fare) will still apply.

“The 4000-series railcars and the entire Heritage Fleet are a treasure not just in CTA’s history, but the City of Chicago’s history too, and Chicagoans of all ages are welcome to come out and experience this century-old gem,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. “It is a privilege to serve our customers each day, and events such as this are just as much a gift for us as it is for those coming out to ride and experience a bygone era of public transit that is appreciated across multiple generations.”

The 4000-series railcars, built by the long-defunct Cincinnati Car Company, are the oldest vehicles in CTA’s Heritage Fleet—a collection of vintage buses and railcars from the 1920s through the 1970s. The 4000-series were built in two phases: from 1914-15 and from 1922-24.

The 4000s were Chicago's first steel body cars. The first phase of cars were affectionately referred to as "baldies" because of their plain arched roofs, while the second phase of cars were known as the “plushies,” featuring canvas-covered wood roofs, more luxurious interiors with green plush seats, circulating fans, and opal shades on the lights,

The 4000-series railcars in CTA’s Heritage Fleet, cars 4271-4272, have been lovingly maintained by the agency since the entire series was retired in the early 1970s. Both vintage railcars feature the burnt orange and brown paint scheme they wore in the 1940s, while inside, they feature replica advertisements from the era.

"The Heritage Fleet Program is designed to preserve and celebrate the city's and CTA's history. Our vintage trains and buses allow the public to experience how people traveled in years past first-hand—sitting in the same seats, holding handholds and stanchions, reading the vintage advertisements,” said Graham Garfield, who manages CTA’s Heritage Fleet Program. “These vehicles tell the story of our daily lives – how people traveled to work, school, shopping and play – and we love giving everyone a window in past generations or a walk down memory lane."

In addition to being the 100th anniversary of the delivery of 4271-4272, it is also the 50th anniversary of their retirement from regular passenger service. The last of the 4000-series cars were retired in October 1973, serving out their last days on the Evanston Express (today’s Purple Line Express). Cars 4271-4272 were selected by CTA for preservation shortly after retirement, chosen in part because they were last pair of 4000s to receive a full overhaul and thus would need the least amount of work to be brought to good operating condition; they had also received fewer modifications than other 4000s.

CTA will also be distributing a limited quantity of commemorative posters from a table at the Washington-Wabash station, at the south end of the inner-loop platform (limit one per person please).

To learn more about the 4000-series railcars and the CTA Heritage Fleet, visit: https://www.transitchicago.com/heritagefleet/

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