How does wayfinding on the CTA compare to BART?


Plentiful signage at this CTA station makes it easy to figure out which station you’re at and where you need to catch your train. Photo by Mickey B. All other images courtesy of the author.

This guest post was contributed by Rachel Hyman, a senior at the University of Chicago who studies geography. A resident of Hyde Park, she’s made it her mission to see every corner of Chicago, by bike if possible. In her free time, she edits the literary blog Banango Lit.

Almost all of my experience with urban public transit has been in Chicago, so I was excited to come out to San Francisco for a summer internship and scope out their system. to get to work I take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), essentially a subway that runs within San Francisco and in the East Bay. In Chicago, I live in Hyde Park, which doesn’t have great access to the ‘L’, so it’s nice to live closer to a train station here. Just last week, though, I had an experience which soured me a bit on BART.

Continue reading How does wayfinding on the CTA compare to BART?

Grid Shots: Wayfinding


A “City Information Sign” shows CTA lines and a map of a large area around Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River. Photo by Michelle Stenzel

Wayfinding is a set of devices that we use to orient ourselves in the current space and to build a journey, no matter how short (downstairs to upstairs) or long (kayaking from San Francisco to Tokyo because of a suggestion made by Google Maps). Two weeks ago Anne Alt wrote about how the quality of wayfinding at the LaSalle Street Metra Station is a weak aspect of the station’s design. This is a collection of wayfinding photos from the Grid Chicago group on Flickr. Continue reading Grid Shots: Wayfinding

How LaSalle Street Metra station maintains hard-to-find reputation


A new intermodal link at Congress Parkway and Financial Place, leading passengers up to Metra platforms, as viewed from the northwest.

If there were a contest for “best hidden train station in the Loop,” the dubious winner would be Metra’s LaSalle Street station. Have you ever tried and failed to find this station, or had to give extremely detailed directions to help someone else find it? If your answer is “yes,” you’ve got lots of company.

So why is it such a mystery?

Much of the signage directing “potential” passengers is small, placed in mid-block locations far out of visual range from adjacent intersections, and doesn’t follow the design standards of Metra signs. The station itself is tucked and hidden behind the Chicago Board Options Exchange; the platforms are also above ground with a single point of entry. This aerial view gives you a point of reference. Continue reading How LaSalle Street Metra station maintains hard-to-find reputation