Chicagoans may never agree about sports teams or local politics, but if there’s one thing that unites the city, it’s our elevated train lines — known, of course, as the “L.”
The transit system takes center stage in Geoffrey Baer’s newest special “Chicago by ‘L’” as he travels through Chicago’s neighborhoods and nearby suburbs, via, you guessed it, the “L.”
“Just steps from each station is yet another fascinating personal connection to be made, a restaurant to try, a business to explore, or a landmark to admire. This is a program for the ‘train geek’ inside all of us,” Baer said.
The show is also a history of the “L” itself, from the time it was run by a series of private companies to today’s centralized Chicago Transit Authority, or CTA.
The special also goes behind the scenes of the train’s inner workings, including a visit to the CTA’s Control Center, which makes sure trains (mostly) run on time. The show also takes a trip to the Skokie Shops, where railcars undergo repairs and refurbishing.
To prepare for the special, Baer rode the “L” system in its entirety – all eight lines. He says it’s the perfect vehicle to tell the stories of Chicago’s communities.
“As a kid, I remember staring out the windows of the ‘L’ in wonder as we passed perilously close to buildings through the rich and complex quilt of Chicago cultures,” Baer said. “And I still love it today. It’s like touring the world for the minimal price of a train fare.”