Chicago’s First Subway (10-16-1943)

HOW--State Street Subway

Seventy years ago today, Chicago’s first subway opened.  A few years back my WBEZ post featured a documentary movie about the building of the subway, produced by the City of Chicago.  Look for the film at the bottom of the page.  Here’s the link–


11 Responses to “Chicago’s First Subway (10-16-1943)”

  1. 1 brian October 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Great work as usual JS

  2. 3 Kyle L October 17, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Do we know what stop that photo is from? It does not appear to be the State street conjoined platform, and the train appears to be making a turn coming into the station, so possibly Clark & Division? The picture even has some of the first layers of dirt at Clark & Div that they are chipping away for the first time with the current renovation.

    • 4 J.R. Schmidt October 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      The photo comes from a 1947 book published by the City of Chicago titled “Chicago’s Report to the People.” There’s no caption indicating the location.

    • 5 Garry October 17, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      Note the curved wall of the tunnel.
      That means it’s a station under State St. in the Loop or south to Harrison or Roosevelt. They’re the only ones with the curved tunnel walls.
      It absolutely can’t be Clark & Division.

  3. 6 Exige Blogger October 23, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Around 7:20 in the video, the two “tubes” are described, created so they can be submerged only “5ft below the river bed” – ok JRS, does this decision mirror construction of the chicago tunnel company’s tunnel that was breached in the flood of 1992?

    • 7 J.R. Schmidt October 24, 2013 at 6:26 am

      Yes it does. When that freight tunnel was breached, it was about 80 years old. Maybe we should worry about the subway tunnels in another 10 years.

      • 8 Garry October 28, 2013 at 6:11 pm

        Age wasn’t the problem that caused the freight tunnel breach.
        It was an incompetent contractor that punched through it because they didn’t read a map correctly.

      • 9 J.R. Schmidt October 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm

        I was being flippant. But even with 70 years of buildup on the river bottom, the subway tubes are still pretty close to the surface.

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