My initial exposure to the Loop came in 1961, and
it wasn't a Chicago CTA that I was riding. In those days -- those
waning days of a leftover era -- the Chicago, North Shore and
Milwaukee interurban shared the tracks with the city lines. I had used a family trip to
Kenosha, Wisconsin as the basis to ride the electric intercity line into
Chicago. It was the era of the Electroliners, but I was on one
of the older cars south. The experience even before Chicago
was immense for me, and then I found myself on the fabled Loop for
the first time. What a rush!
Each of my early riding trips on the CTA itself
brought a state of transit joy, experiencing the Loop; the various lines
radiating out along old and seemingly precariously built "L"
alleys and streets through old neighborhoods of brick multi-family
wooden fire escapes; the
ground level segments elsewhere, with numerous street crossings.
It was unique, and superb.
Alas, I did not document the first few trips
with photos. This view, at the Madison/Wabash station, is from 1966. The pedestrian overpass looked pretty
much then as it does now. Trains on both tracks
were still running
counter-clockwise, and thus this Lake St. run will pull away from
the station toward the camera.
At the time of the photo these cars, in the 2000 series and manufactured by Pullman,
were only a couple of years old. And the North Shore Line had been
absent -- gone to its
glory -- for more than three years.