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Did You Know?

Thanks to our generous donors, Active Trans is able to carry out our important work throughout the Chicago region.

A streetcar named Chicago

If you’ve spent much time in Chicago, you’ve likely seen them peeking through the asphalt when roads are scraped down for resurfacing. During pothole season they sometimes reveal themselves, too. 

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Chicago streetcar photo courtesy of Katherine of Chicago

Old trolley tracks sit below many miles of Chicago streets. Every so often we get a glimpse of them, reminding us of the extensive trolley system that once operated in Chicago.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the city’s first streetcar started operating in 1859 and the final one was retired in 1958. Initially, the trolleys were pulled by horses. Then they were pulled by underground cables and eventually were powered by electrical lines that ran overhead.

Want to see some great photos of Chicago streetcars? The CTA has been creating videos in the past couple of years focusing on the history of Chicago transit.

The October 2011 video shows a World War II-era streetcar that was enlisted to help with the military recruitment effort. The video also features a repair crew performing the tricky work of fixing streetcar lines at one of Chicago’s wide triple intersections.

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