A CTA Pink Line "L" train passes the Willis Tower in January. (Brian Cassella/Chicago…)
Like some Chicago Catholics, Aidan Gillespie of Pilsen performed the Stations of the Cross last week to prepare for Easter—except he did it using CTA stations.
Gillespie, 24, said he traveled the length of the CTA rail system to visit 10 churches to reflect and pray about Jesus' crucifixion, which is detailed in the Stations of the Cross. He chronicled his journey on his blog, lstop2.tumblr.com.
Along the way he stopped at the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette off the Linden Purple Line stop, and St. Therese in Chinatown off the Cermak-Chinatown Red Line stop, among other places of worship. As he traveled to each church, he listened to podcasts at pray-as-you-go.org, which offers daily prayer downloads.
Gillespie said the trip took him about 17 hours, about the same amount of time it took him to complete this challenge last year, his first year performing the CTA Stations of the Cross.
"I started thinking about pilgrimage and how I could incorporate a modern pilgrimage in my own city with Lent," Gillespie said about the origins of the trip. "It's pretty personal and quiet. I think that's one of the nice things about the trip."
Gillespie's feat is kind of a twist on the "L" Challenge, in which CTA riders try to ride the entire rail system through all 143 stops. Riders can run and bus between stops, but they can't use cars or taxis, according to the unofficial but widely accepted rule book.
Adham Fisher of the U.K., a rail enthusiast who travels to different cities to ride the length of train systems, set the course record last year at 9 hours, 36 minutes, 33 seconds.
A few groups have attempted this challenge; one student group was honored by CTA President Forrest Claypool in August, though it didn't beat Fisher's time.
Scott Presslak, 26, of Portage Park, and Kevin Olsta, 27, of Lakeview, said they set a course record Friday by completing the challenge in 9 hours, 24 minutes, 5 seconds.
But Chicago may not get to "L"-ebrate for long. Fisher told Going Public he plans to return to the Second City later this month to reclaim his crown, thus putting the "ride" in "pride."
The Active Transportation Alliance, the biking, cycling and transit riding advocacy group, is seeking volunteers to pass out information about transit legislation at downtown transit stations. Riders for Better Transit Day of Action will be at Union Station from 5-8 p.m. Thursday.
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A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Pulaski Orange Line
If you don't have kids or you've never had the pleasure of putting random scribbles on your fridge, you're in luck. The stairwells in the Pulaski Orange Line station feature doodles in brightly colored ink. It's as if a child with no talent has taken to scribbling along the walls of this West Elsdon station with every color in the Crayola pack. It doesn't matter if the graffiti is from kids or adults, it needs to be fully cleansed from the station. The only color that should matter here is Orange.
Next up: Armitage Brown/Purple Line stop
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