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Celebrating the CTA’s 70th Anniversary

Posted under Collections by Guest author

On October 1, the Chicago Transit Authority celebrates its 70th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, we have compiled some highlights about the CTA’s rich history from the Chicago History Museum’s collection.


A CTA train heads west on the Lake Street elevated line, June 30, 1967. CHM, Hedrich-Blessing Collection, HB-30550


Long gone are the electric-powered trolley buses that shuttled passengers around the city, such as this one at the southwest corner of 47th Street and Woodlawn Avenue in Kenwood. CHM, ICHi-65923


So, too, are the CTA tokens that were once used to pay the fare. CHM, 1999.76.10


At the February 1951 opening of the Milwaukee-Dearborn-Congress Subway—now known as the Blue Line—attendees were given guest souvenir permits. CHM, TINdup2797


Safety first! Severt Hanson was a CTA operator for six decades. He was accident free in 1952 and for many more years as well. CHM, 1999.76.7


The CTA’s first air-conditioned train cars debuted in 1964. CHM, ICHi-035830


Maintenance workers used this lamp to remind operators to slow down when repairs were being made. CHM, 1980.22


Buttons such as this one were distributed on September 28, 1969, to commemorate the first day of rail service from Cermak–Chinatown to 95th Street. The Dan Ryan Branch of the CTA is now known as the Red Line South. CHM, 1997.51.24


When The Field Museum hosted the Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition in 1977, the CTA installed special bus stop signs such as this one to guide visitors. CHM, 1980.61


CTA fashion has also changed through the decades. Pictured above is the motorman Severt Hanson’s uniform, c. 1960, and a uniform, c. 1980. CHM, 1997.85 and 1999.76.1 (top), 1998.157a,d (bottom)


Thanks to modern engineering and technology, the CTA is now able to provide transportation for more riders. Undated photograph, CHM, ICHi-023701

Special thanks to senior collection manager Britta Keller Arendt, collection technician Jess Cunny, and costume collection manager Jessica Pushor for compiling these artifacts.

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