Last week I had a few minutes between trains, during which time I exposed these views of the Chicago Transit Authority’s famous ‘L’ at the Chicago Loop.
Although it is common misconception that the ‘loop’ is so named for the circular arrangement of CTA’s elevated railway downtown, the name pre-dates the ‘L’ and actually stems from Chicago’s cable car days. (Chicago, rather than San Francisco, once held title to the world’s most extensive cable operated streetcar network.)
Way back in the day, before third rail electrification was the rule, compact steam locomotives worked trains on New York’s elevated railways.
Most of the original Els are long gone, and many of today’s elevated structures spanning streets in The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens stem from the electrified era.
Nearly forgotten are the Manhattan Els, all of which were torn down decades ago.
Old postcards survive that show the way things were.
In June, I made these photographs of the elevated structure that survives above the streets at Broadway and Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn. I find it astounding that when Els were more common, they were decried as ‘ugly.’ Simply bizarre.