CHICAGO — It just may be Chicago’s most well known movie character: the Chicago transit system. CTA trains and buses have appeared in countless blockbusters over the decades, as both a main character or simply part of the ambiance.
Graham Garfield is a CTA historian and the chair of the Heritage Fleet program, an initiative officially launched two years ago to preserve historic trains and buses.
The oldest cars in the fleet were built in 1923.
Volunteers, many former CTA engineers and crew, donate their time to restore these rides to their original glory.
“They were restored soon after they were retired in the 1970s,” Garfield said. "They were very lovingly put back to near original conditions. There are window shades that you can lower on the windows so people have that feeling of what it was like to ride the early trains.”
CTA cars from the 20s, the 50s and the 70s make up the rail portion of the Heritage Fleet. They have each been painstakingly restored to their original colors and conditions. Vintage ads also set the tone for the era and pictures of the trains in their heyday.
Three buses from the 1960s make up the road portion of the fleet, complete with authentic interior and exterior paint.
They are not just for TV and movies — you will often see the Heritage Fleet at events across Chicago. At its 70th anniversary last year, the CTA gave free rides in the Loop.
For more information, visit Transit Chicago's website.