Here’s an animated short film I made about Chicago’s iconic “L” (short for “elevated” ) commuter train system.
On Feb. 4th, 1977, 35 years ago today, during the busy evening rush hour, two trains collided due to human error. Three train cars completely derailed and fell 20 feet to the busy street below. When it was over, 11 people were dead and over 180 were injured. Though there have been other derailments in the L’s long history, several of which are recounted here, none were as deadly as the 1977 incident.
I was a student in the western suburbs and had only ridden the “L” a few times in my life when I heard the news and saw pictures of the derailment. Since that day, I’ve ridden the “L” countless times to State & Lake, the stop just before the sharp bend in the tracks where the trains plunged to the ground. Viewing the actual scene of the accident, it’s surprising to me that there weren’t even more casualties.
You can read more about the 1977 “L” derailment here and here and read of the survivors’ first-hand accounts here.
For years I commuted to downtown Chicago’s Loop, riding the “L” train through the west side of the city. Now I ride only occasionally and at off peak hours, which gives me a chance to sketch some of the riders unobserved. With an endless supply of faces and poses to serve as inspiration, it’s fun to experiment with a different styles.
Here I’ve composited a few of these sketches digitally with some of the amazing photos my wife, Lynn, has taken during her commute.
And I couldn’t resist posting a few more of Lynn’s pictures on their own:
I hope to continue this series from time to time, so Green Line riders be forewarned.