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Riding the CTA ... for fun?

  • CTA Brown Line train heads in from the north to the Belmont station on Thursday April 17, 2014. (Phil Velasquez Chicago Tribune)
CTA Brown Line train heads in from the north to the Belmont station on Thursday… (Phil Velasquez / Chicago…)
May 12, 2014|By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz | RedEye

It's rare that riders look forward to the "L" crawling—unless that's what is supposed to happen.

The Chicago History Museum and Chicago Architecture Foundation are offering guided tours this spring of the CTA. Meanwhile, a Craft Beer Week event Sunday features a craft beer "L" crawl that is now being billed as a double-decker bus tour to bars near the "L."

Chicago historian Liz Garibay, a Lakeview resident, runs the Craft Beer Week tour. On Sunday, Garibay led a tour of about 35 people who used the CTA to bar hop and learn about Chicago rail history.

The excursion, offered by the Chicago History Museum, started at New Line Tavern near the Clinton Green and Pink Line stop and ended at the Sedgwick Stop near the Brown Line stop of the same name.

Along the way, participants stopped at Stocks and Blondes near the Washington/Wells stop, where they learned that Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child fame was a frequent guest at the bar during the time she performed in The Color Purple at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in 2007. Other stops included Miller's Pub in the Loop and Farmhouse near the Chicago Brown Line stop.

Evan Kalway, of Avondale, took the tour with his family as a way to celebrate Mother's Day.

"You just ride the CTA. You don't really think about it as a historical [entity]," said Kalway, 29.

Garibay, 40, and the history museum hope to offer that tour in the future. In the meantime, Garibay will helm the Brew Line tour that kicks off Sunday at 11 a.m. from Northside Bar and Grill near the Damen Blue Line stop .

The $42 tour was originally scheduled to be on a chartered "L" train, but a CTA spokeswoman told Going Public the logistics were too "challenging," so it was switched to a double-decker bus tour. Tickets were still available Monday afternoon at brewline.brownpapertickets.com.

Meanwhile, the Chicago History Museum next month will begin to offer $25 guided tours of the Brown, Green and Blue Lines and the Loop for two and a half hours. Go to chicagohistory.org/tours for dates. Members receive a $5 discount.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation also hosts "L" architecture tours for the Loop and South Side. The tours are two hours and cost $12 for foundation members and $20 for non-members. Visit tickets.architecture.org for more information.

Long line

The CTA is holding an open house Tuesday about its proposal to extend the Red Line from 95th to 130th Street. The meeting will be 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Palmer Park Gymnasium, 201 E. 111th St.

Red, Orange, Black line?

Reservations are being taken for a new private shuttle between Lakeview and downtown. Blackline, which boasts air conditioning and free WiFi, is offering two daily runs from Belmont Avenue and Sheridan Road. Weekly passes sell for $22.99. Go to rideblackline.com for more information.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: South Boulevard Purple Line

A rider recently called RedEye to complain about the state of this Evanston stop when it rains. GP visited the stop Friday morning after a rain and noted that the stationhouse floors were slippery and there were puddles on the stairwells to the platform. The platform itself was dry. The Purple Line itself has long been neglected and many of its stations could use renovations to make them accessible for riders with disabilities. The CTA last month announced the first phase of its proposed Red and Purple Line Modernization Plan, which did not include overhauling Purple Line stations. The CTA said it plans to update the line in the future.

Next up: North/Clybourn Red Line

tswartz@tribune.com | @tracyswartz

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