Where’s the L in Chicago?

The tracks of the elevated train, Chicago

I wonder how many movies I’ve seen which show the elevated trains of Chicago. The Blues Brothers, The Fugitive (the one with Harrison Ford on the run), Ocean’s Eleven, While You Were Sleeping, to name just a few. So the bleak look of the parking lot below the century old tracks which you see in the featured photo didn’t come as a surprise. One of the amazing things about the USA is that the transport infrastructure is as old as it looks. The elevated tracks were finished in 1897!

What do you call it? The Chicago Tribune gives you the definitive answer: the L is preferred over El.

An elevated train in Chicago

How often do the trains run? Jake’s (John Belushi’s) question was answered by Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) in The Blues Brothers: "So often that you won’t even notice it". That’s right. Before I finished cursing myself for fumbling a shot of a train passing the intersection in the photo above, the next one came along.

The electrical power to the train is, famously, supplied through a third rail. If you are wondering about it, then it is supplied at 600 Volts. Although, as Billy Crystal says in Running Scared, as he chases a bad guy along the rails, "It’s not the volts, it’s the amps".

Author: I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

2 thoughts on “Where’s the L in Chicago?”

  1. A lot of such infrastructure was constructed at the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century also at other places in the world / in Europe. In Berlin we have the same system (underground trains partially moving uplifted through the city) since 1902, one station can be seen here:


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