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The City
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I still can't get over it.

I'll never forget my 1 ride on the orange line, about 1 year ago.

Sure, I've ridden the blue, red, and brown lines, and have encountered a highly dense urban environment along the way.

But the orange line? Sure, it's not bad through downtown and up till Chinatown, but then.....something changes.

I suddenly feel like I'm on a train through Kentucky. Trucking docks, old factories, abandoned praries, and empty, closed-down big box stores with weeded-over parking lots abound as far as the eye can see.

Now I'm not trying to attack Chicago. It's a very large, dense, urban city with great things going on for it. But it always disturbs me to see the south/southwest sides. Okay, I know, we've already discussed the south side many times and how it is making a comeback, and how it's racist/not racist, rich/poor, Dampyre gets pissed, and etc. etc. I realize all of that...

But, this one seems so simple. First of all, correct me if I'm wrong, but the orange line was a completely new line built in 1993-ish, right? Was it built with existing tracks or built from scratch? Either way, we've got a relatively new rail line connecting downtown and Midway airport, and once you get past Chinatown you're in the middle of nowhere.

Why not build some TOD's, or mini-villages along those stops? Yeah, I know, it's hard to get developers to invest in those communities. Oh really? Then how did we get developers to take interest in building 50 three-flats or 100 condos or a 1,700 person mixed-income community in the near west or near south sides, in some of the most poverty-stricken parts of town? And what about the new development going on in Lawndale and other hoods? Certainly the city has given developers TIF subsidies, but I have observed that many of these new developments are, except for bus service and an occasional Metra stop, in relatively transit-poor areas.

And therein lies the Orange line stops. Hell, the train is already there--so it's not like you have to build it, or spend more money on it. Why not subsidize some neighborhood development around the friggin thing? Besides, previous real estate patterns have clearly shown that areas near transit are highly attractive places for buyers--already an advantage over those Lawndale, Englewood, Woodlawn developments that somehow get so much press. It seems so easy--am I missing something? Because to me, it appears that the city has essentially very little work to do except to lay down a few standards regarding the layout of development (ie mixed-use, pedestrian oriented) which it is already doing abundantly elsewhere.

What am I missing here? Hell, does anybody in this forum work for the City? If so, we need more of those people to pass along our ideas, because some of this stuff is just plain common sense...
 

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The orange line runs through an industrial corridor, that follows the I&M/Sanitary & Ship canal, from Chinatown to Garfield Ridge (Midway Airport). Most of its length is on a railyard right of way, with an elevated spur that takes it over Chinatown and connects it to the loop via the Green Line elevated. Its not that the neighborhoods that the orange line traverses are bad, but just industrial. The orange line goes through very vibrant Mexican and Polish neighborhoods... its just that these neighborhoods are several blocks to the south and north.
The city wont rezone the area, as Daley wants to keep industry within city limits.

The Orange Line was built primarily to connect Midway to downtown, and has a lot of bus transfer traffic... its not really a 'neighborhood line' so to speak. It could change though... who knows.
 

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The City
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Rivernorth said:
Its not that the neighborhoods that the orange line traverses are bad, but just industrial.
^I agree to some extent.

But there sure was a heck of a lot of non-industrial crap I saw too. I particularly remember a big-box store (abandoned, that is) with surrounding parking lots. Didn't look like industrial to me..
 

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^ But that big-box store was likely built on a former industrial site, back when things like that were done (think the Near North ex-industrial corridor on which now sit several big-box stores).

Yeah, the Orange Line is the ugliest line by far.
 

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Like 90% lives near the Orange line is working class(I should know). Mostly everyone that uses the Orange Line go to work in downtown, going to highschool near the Orange Line, or some tourist that need to go to Midway.

On the Bright side, wonderful views of the skyline the line.


here, an unique pic only if you are on the orange line
 

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It was built almost entirely on still-active freight railroad ROWs, which explains why the adjacent land uses are industrial. The political story behind it was that Reagan was trolling for Demo votes to sell arms to the Nicaraugan Contras, and Rep. Lipinski said, "well, Mr. President, have you heard about the Southwest Rapid Transit line?" A year later, funding was in place. The stations don't do much to integrate into their neighborhoods, because funding for more complex architecture wasn't available. Likewise, it was cut short at Midway (the intended destination has always been 79th/Ford City) to shave about 40% off the final cost--building a bridge over the Clearing railyards would have cost that much.

Ten years ago, many fewer of those industrial sites were vacant. Few of the aldermen in that part of town seem to have a clue about what to do with the sites, though; many of them are still zoned manufacturing in the hopes that the jobs will magically come back some day. It's often hard to sell these folks on good planning, especially since the neighbors are often nervous about demographic change--remember, Marquette Park erupted in riots when Martin Luther King asked for fair housing opportunities.

That said, the Orange Line has had a huge impact on the southwest side's neighborhoods even without any active policies to foster transit use. Home prices, which long lagged the rest of town, have quickly caught up. Total transit mode share is up somewhat (as much Orange Line ridership transferred from the old Archer Avenue express routes), and ridership continues to set new records. Some infill development is starting to appear in Bridgeport. A set of plans for Archer/Ashland ("the ugliest intersection in town") that were drawn up by a class at Notre Dame attracted some media attention last year.
.pc
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
paytonc said:
It was built almost entirely on still-active freight railroad ROWs, which explains why the adjacent land uses are industrial. The political story behind it was that Reagan was trolling for Demo votes to sell arms to the Nicaraugan Contras, and Rep. Lipinski said, "well, Mr. President, have you heard about the Southwest Rapid Transit line?" A year later, funding was in place. The stations don't do much to integrate into their neighborhoods, because funding for more complex architecture wasn't available. Likewise, it was cut short at Midway (the intended destination has always been 79th/Ford City) to shave about 40% off the final cost--building a bridge over the Clearing railyards would have cost that much.

Ten years ago, many fewer of those industrial sites were vacant. Few of the aldermen in that part of town seem to have a clue about what to do with the sites, though; many of them are still zoned manufacturing in the hopes that the jobs will magically come back some day. It's often hard to sell these folks on good planning, especially since the neighbors are often nervous about demographic change--remember, Marquette Park erupted in riots when Martin Luther King asked for fair housing opportunities.

That said, the Orange Line has had a huge impact on the southwest side's neighborhoods even without any active policies to foster transit use. Home prices, which long lagged the rest of town, have quickly caught up. Total transit mode share is up somewhat (as much Orange Line ridership transferred from the old Archer Avenue express routes), and ridership continues to set new records. Some infill development is starting to appear in Bridgeport. A set of plans for Archer/Ashland ("the ugliest intersection in town") that were drawn up by a class at Notre Dame attracted some media attention last year.
.pc
^Wow, thanks for the history, payton :)
 

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The Urban Politician said:
Now I'm not trying to attack Chicago. It's a very large, dense, urban city with great things going on for it. But it always disturbs me to see the south/southwest sides.
Yes you are...lol. Please....don't kid us. HOW many cities have rail to BOTH airports? Perhaps the CTA should have destroyed thousands of homes to build the CTA Orange line to Midway so it would be "pretty" for you rather than build the Orange line along the INDUSTRIAL CORE (look it up...basic urban definition) on right away that was already there for rail???


I do agree with you that the city should halt funding any expansion or new tracks unless it can help build little urban hubs around the stations. This will help with ridership and spread out the economic TIF's beyond the downtown core.
 

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^Yeah, but not every stop on the Orange Line between Chinatown and Midway is totally industrial: 35th and Archer has the most potential of them all, so does Pulaski.

They could have built it as a subway under Archer according to 1950's plans... :laugh:
 

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I found this.....typed into yahoo search "orange line history" and found this site. As easy as that. They is why I question TUP and his sincerity.

From: Chicago "L".org

http://www.chicago-l.org/history/CTA4.html

"L" To the Southwest Side: A New Way to Midway

An Orange Line train passes over the bridge at Archer near Western, west of 35th/Archer station, in August 1997. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by John Bell)
Southwest Chicago had long been neglected by rapid transit. The Douglas Branch of the Metropolitan "L" served what was then the southwest side in 1895, but the city soon grew far south of 22nd Street and west of the South Side "L"'s tracks, leaving a significant quadrant of the city unserved. As far back as the 1940s, when the State Street and Dearborn Street subways were being planned and constructed, the city proposed an elaborate system of subways to expand the "L" system, including a southwest route from the Loop to Municipal (now Midway) Airport. (See proposed subway map) For the next fifty years, various plans continued to be put forth. When the Stevenson Expressway was constructed, space was left in much of its length for a median rapid transit route (as was done in the Congress, Dan Ryan, and Kennedy Expressways), though this was never utilized. This may have been for the best: putting an "L" line in the median of an expressway often isolates it from the neighborhood it's supposed to serve.

Unfortunately, the citizens of this area would have to wait another fifty years before rapid transit would reach them, and then was on an "L", not in a subway. In 1980, Mayor Byrne announced the plans for the new Southwest Route using money from the canceled Crosstown Expressway, but a lack of federal funding assistance stalled the plan. Finally, in 1986, President Reagan entered into a funding deal with Mayor Harold Washington as a political favor to Representative William Lipinski (D-Ill.) for a vote cast on a critical issue and planning got underway on the Southwest Transit Project. The $500 million line is unusual in that it predominantly follows current or former freight railroad right-of-ways, including those previously used by the Illinois Central Railroad, Santa Fe Railway and the Belt Railway of Chicago. The Midway (Orange) Line begins at a terminal at Midway Airport (actually at 59th/Kilpatrick, across the street from the airport; this was done to allowing easier extension of the line), then follows the Belt Railway of Chicago, 49th Street, Leavitt Avenue, Archer Avenue, and the

A view of the Midway Terminal station in August 1997. For a larger view, click here. (Photo by John Bell)
Stevenson Expressway to a connection with the former Dan Ryan elevated trackage at 18th/Federal. At this point, the Orange Line follows the South Side main line to the Loop, where it terminates clockwise on the inner track. The route has seven stations approximately one mile apart (an eighth was planned but never built at California/49th) on the nine mile line, plus a new station at Roosevelt/Wabash to serve Orange and Green Line trains. The Midway terminal also includes a spacious yard and modern inspection shop, plus a layout conducive to extension south to Ford City (something planned in the early stages of the Southwest Route, but as yet unrealized).

On October 31, 1993, the Orange Line began operation at 0730 hours between Midway and the Loop. The line was unusual in several ways, a harbinger of things to come on the CTA rapid transit system. The line opened entirely equipped with brand-new 3200-series cars, which had full-width cabs, allowing one-person train operation (OPTO). Only the Yellow Line also had OPTO, which had been a feature since its opening in 1964; in two years, it would begin spreading to the rest of the system. Every station on the line was ADA-compliant, all but Kedzie and Roosevelt had park'n'ride lots (Kedzie had one added in 1999), and all had bus bays and turnarounds to facilitate intermodal transfers. The line also began operation without owl (late night) service, running only Monday through Saturday from 0500 to 2300 hours and Sundays/Holidays from 0730 to 2330 hours. But ridership proved better than expected and more trips were soon added. Today, the Orange Line serves as an integral part of the CTA's rapid transit system.
 

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Major change will be a way of life on the South and SW sides and a lot of what we see from the Orange Line will not always be there.

However, while it still is here, I have to say I loe the old industrial look of the South Side and how so many South Side neighborhoods look radically different from the North. In some ways, it is like two separate cities.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Chicago3rd said:
I found this.....typed into yahoo search "orange line history" and found this site. As easy as that. They is why I question TUP and his sincerity.

My sincerity? I don't even live in Chicago and I know more about your city's development than you do. Sometimes constructive criticism is necessary, so deal with it.

:cry:
 

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Without the Orange Line, Archer Buses will be flooded! Anyways, I think I kno the most about the Orange Line. My grandma lives a block from the 35/Archer Station. I live very close to the Halsted Station, and one thing is certain, people use the Orange Line to NOT use the Archer bus, because the Orange Line basically parrell Archer(beside near 47th and Western, Kedize)

The Orange intersects Western Ave 3 times. Yes 3. Once at Archer + Western, another at Western + Pershing. The last one with a station is at Western + 48th.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
edsg25 said:
However, while it still is here, I have to say I loe the old industrial look of the South Side and how so many South Side neighborhoods look radically different from the North. In some ways, it is like two separate cities.
^ I felt that way too, and I expressed that same opinion on SSP until Alex1 made a good point.

There is good gritty and industrial, and there is "bad" gritty and industrial.

Chicago has too much of the "bad" industrial--because vacant industrial is bad. Vacant lots are bad. There are some beautiful parts of the south side, but there is a lot of underused land with growing weeds, and the city needs to realize that industry is not coming back--it's the same process that occurs to all cities as they become global centers--Chicago needs to adapt its land for a growing service-oriented economy.

But I"m going to shut up now, I don't want to say anything that will cause Chicago3rd to whine, since anything remotely critical about Chicago will surely ruin his little paradigm...
 

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Chicago3rd: Stop it. TUP is anything but anti-Chicago. I've never seen him post anything inappropriate.

And yeah, TUP, I'd agree that most of the (vacant) industry now is not an asset to anything.
 

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^Industry, even if it comes to the US, is likely to go to the south suburbs anyway, that's where the bulk of it has been post WWII... the city, while still a major distribution center, needs to develop whatever open land it can on the south side to act as further catalysts to its development and resurgence.

Can you imagine the amount of el lines that could be built on the south side along railroad ROW to connect such new developments? That thought just makes me giddy.
 

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Hey, if that circle line ever happens, it'll be running straight through industrail aread, would it not?

Such proximity to the L, and all the vacant land there would be a great opportunity for developers...Cheap land, transit and not too far away from stuff...
 

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The City
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
nikko said:
Hey, if that circle line ever happens, it'll be running straight through industrail aread, would it not?

Such proximity to the L, and all the vacant land there would be a great opportunity for developers...Cheap land, transit and not too far away from stuff...
^I think the city needs to redesignate some of these industrial corridors into residential--besides, there is still AMPLE land for industry in Chicago.

The Circle line will be a big improvement for transit in the city. God, I really hope it gets built
 
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