Chicago Transport Authority

by John Hinson

Tower 18
Photograph 17/7/40, from the collection of Dr. J W F Scrimgeour

The Chicago Transit Authority lines were built over the streets, resulting in a complex network of lines with sharp junctions at crossroads. These were controlled from a mass of towers, which didn't carry names - they were numbered. This is Tower 18.

Tower 18 was at the crossroads of Lake Street and Wells Street, and this view looks north along Wells Street. A train is turning sharply behind the box from "The Loop" towards Ravenswood.

All of the towers on the system, except Wilson Avenue, were power operated.

Trains everywhere at Tower 18!
Photograph 1920, from the collection of Dr. J W F Scrimgeour

Trains going everywhere! The activity at this junction inspired the February 2003 Monthly Quiz.

The chaos isn't quite what it seems, however, for most lines of the elevated system (despite being double-tracked) are operated in one direction only.

The train in the right foreground is following "The Loop" from Lake Street into Wells Street, destination Logan Square. Behind it, another train turns from the Loop into Wells Street to towards Ravenswood. Meanwhile, a southbound Englewood Express rumbles across Lake Street, joining the outer rail of the Loop.

The operator in the tower is clearly relaxed amongst all this activity, as he is leaning out from his bay window watching the roof of the Englewood train as it passes.

In the far distance, the shape of another tower can just be seen.

About the photographs

Comments about this article should be addressed to John Hinson