Transportation and Chicago's Connection

Chicago has an important connection to the development of transportation in our country. Being next to Lake Michigan and being close to several vital rivers - the Chicago, the Illinois, the Des Plaines, the Kankakee, and others, helped make Chicago a major transportation hub. Millions of people have traveled through our city when traveling east or west.  Even today, millions travel through Chicago from all across the world. Without Chicago, our country would not have grown so quickly. When visiting the Smithsonian, we saw several examples of how Chicago helped our country grow.

Major transportation routes - check out Chicago in the middle!

Of course the first mode of transportation for settlers and pioneers was by boat.

Native Americans used these to traverse the rivers and trade
Another is Chicago's O'Hare airport. Even from the very beginning, O'Hare was an important way for people to cross the country.  Midway Airport, though not as big, was just as important and helped troops move across the country.

O'Hare Airport - built in 1955-1958

Our train system, also know as the CTA (the Chicago Transit Authority) helped people who lived in the suburbs go to work downtown.

One of Chicago's signs for an "L" stop
An "L" train from Chicago

Another "L" sign from inside a train

Mayor Richard J. Daley nailing in a spike for our "L"

Right, American, and Lefty hitching a ride

CTA fare rates

We also were a major stop for the railroads.  Materials and supplies would come across the lake or by river and be loaded on trains to go across the country. Not only supplies, but before airplanes, people would travel via the railroads. Some would sleep in Pullman cars - where the seats were replaced by beds to sleep on overnight.  George Pullman invented these sleeper cars and a small "city" rose up in Chicago named after him.

Traveling by train was very glamorous for many years.

Finally, our bus system helped people travel from one city to another. Many people could not afford to travel by plane so they used buses. Also people used buses to travel from one area of the city to another.

Chicago bus

All of these forms of transportation were displayed at the Smithsonian - with specific examples from Chicago.   With these developments in transportation, our nation could not have grown from 13 colonies into 50 states.

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