CTA, Wilmette to mark a century of ‘L’ service

April 26, 2012
Officials from the Chicago Transit Authority and the Village of Wilmette will celebrate the 100th anniversary of ‘L’ service to the North Shore community on Saturday, April 28.
CTA President Forrest Claypool, Wilmette Village President Chris Canning, and members of the Wilmette Chamber of Commerce, Wilmette Historical Museum and North Shore Community Bank will mark the 100th anniversary with a celebration at the historic Linden ‘L’ station, at the corner of Linden Avenue and 4th Street.  The event runs from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Linden is the northern terminus of the Purple Line, which serves Wilmette, Evanston and Chicago.
“For a century, CTA has been helping Wilmette residents get to and from their destinations quickly and conveniently,” said Claypool.  “We’re proud to help celebrate the village’s rich history and the important role the CTA has played in Wilmette’s development over the years.”
‘L’ service to Wilmette was introduced in April 1912 by the Northwestern Elevated Railroad. Though Wilmette opposed the extension of the rail line north from Evanston, a Northwestern crew—under the cover of night on April 1, 1912—built a small platform just east of 4th Street. The first train arrived just before 7 a.m. on April 2, according to historic news accounts.
The historic Linden station was built in 1913 and was used until the early 1990s, when a larger station was built to the east, opening in 1993. A few years later, the historic station was leased to North Shore Community Bank, which performed a careful exterior renovation. The station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as being historic in a Memorandum of Agreement between the CTA and the State Historic Preservation Office.
Today, the Linden station is the third-busiest among the eight Evanston branch Purple Line stations, with just over 1,000 riders on an average weekday. The station saw over 319,600 passengers in 2011.
The 100th anniversary event will feature CTA’s two historic train cars, which were built in 1923 by the Cincinnati Car Company for the Chicago Elevated Railways, one of CTA’s predecessor companies. The cars were formally called the 4000-series but were affectionately nicknamed the “plushies” because of their luxurious interiors with green plush seats. The cars also featured steel carbodies with canvas-covered wooden roofs, while the insides were appointed with mahogany trim, electric fans, lights with glass lampshades, and porcelain handholds for standees.
The cars ran in ‘L’ service until 1973. Following their retirement, they were fully rehabbed, repainted in a historic livery from the 1940s, and outfitted with historic displays inside. Today, the cars make occasional appearances at special events.
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