April 29 -30: NASA Space Apps Hackathon at DePaul University!

Save the date, April 29th and April 30th NASA SpaceApps Challenge! Weekend long “hackathon” for brainstorming solutions to Earth problems, using NASA open data, citizen science, and more. Participants can work alone or in teams, and promising projects will be sent on to NASA for review and potential awards.

Part of NASA’s Earth Science Division, SpaceApps has become the world’s largest global hackathon, engaging thousands of citizens each year across the globe to work with NASA in building innovative solutions challenges we face on Earth and in space using open source data. Diverse and collaborative teams of technologists, scientists, designers, entrepreneurs, and others work together in a 48-hour sprint to develop answers to some of the most pressing challenges facing planet Earth using NASA data. Over 15,000 citizens from 61 countries and in 161 cities around the world participated in the 2016 International Space Apps Challenge.

SpaceApps Challenge Chicago is also looking for volunteers and mentors to help with the event and guide participants with their project ideas during the event. Visit the SpaceApps page for more information and for registration: https://2017.spaceappschallenge.org/locations/chicago-il/ . For updates, follow on Twitter at https://twitter.com/spaceappchicago .

For more information, contact the DePaul University Department of Geography: geography@depaul.edu or the Geographic Information Systems Coordinator, Cassie Follett:  cfollett@depaul.edu

The “L”: The Early Years

by Emily Speelman

Along with the Bean and the Willis Tower, there is one Chicago icon that is not only central to the city’s identity, but is used by tourists and residents alike on a daily basis: the ‘L’ (also known locally just as the CTA). Including both Chicago’s bus and train systems, thousands rely on this system to get to school, work, and around the city. Currently, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) manages the eight different train lines and roughly 130 bus routes running in Chicago and several nearby suburbs, such as Skokie, Evanston, and Oak Park. The CTA serves roughly 3.5 million people a day with an average of 515.3 million riders (bus and rail) during 2015. According the CTA’s website, Chicago’s public transit system is the second largest in the United States (after New York City), running 224.1 miles of track and roughly 1,300 miles of bus lines. The L also services both of Chicago’s airports (O’Hare and Midway), making travel into the city easy and inexpensive for visitors. But how did the Chicago Transit Authority come to be and acquire these vital train and rail lines, most notably the famous elevated tracks?

Though the Chicago Transit Authority wasn’t established until 1947, the city’s first pedestrian rail lines (which would become the L) began running in 1892. The system expanded from its original parameters of Congress and 39th street after Chicago was chosen to host the 1893 Colombian Exposition. The first rail line, which is south branch of the Green Line today, now reached down to 63rd and Stony Island so visitors could get to the fair on these new trains. Until the opening of the CTA, however, each line was opened by a different company. The elevated (“L) Loop opened in 1893 and, as companies built more lines, Chicago’s downtown became a transportation hub of different trains. This lack of unity, however, led to fierce competition for ridership on the different lines and an increase in fares for those needing to switch between lines to reach their destination.

The four original companies running Chicago’s elevated trains merged into the Chicago Rapid Transit in 1924 under the leadership of Samuel Insull, who was the president of what is known today as ComEd. Though Chicago’s trains improved after this merge, the government still had a minimal role in the transit system. This proved problematic at the beginning of the Great Depression, when huge ridership drops and financial losses forced them to step in. The Chicago Transit Authority officially took over for the Chicago Rapid Transit in 1947 and they have controlled Chicago’s public transit ever since.

Sources:

http://www.transitchicago.com/cta70/

http://www.transitchicago.com/about/facts.aspx

https://www.wbez.org/shows/eight-fortyeight/120-years-ago-chicagos-first-l/3cd19039-42f1-4c15-a1c1-a6345cf57790

https://www.wbez.org/shows/wbez-blogs/how-the-chicago-l-grew/cce82b68-9091-4e0c-8e9a-1d55e4c73b2e

 

Divvy Into Spring

by Emily Speelman

With the range of temperatures in 2017 thus far, Chicago has had several spring-like days and citizens are returning to one of their favorite warm-weather past times: biking. While many Chicago citizens have their own two-wheeled transport, both locals and visitors alike take advantage of Divvy, Chicago’s bike share system. Since it’s establishment in 2013, Divvy has grown in size and service, making it the third largest bike share program in North America (behind Washington D.C. and New York City).

Photo: Divvy Bikes

Divvy is owned by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and operated by Motivate, which owes the majority of U.S. bike share programs. Currently, Divvy has over 580 stations docking around 5,800 bikes throughout Chicago and the nearby suburbs of Oak Park and Evanston. Bike share programs are designed for short-range or one-way trips lasting no more than 30 minutes, making it great for commuters or visitors on the Lake Shore Trail. To begin riding, riders must first purchase a 24-hour pass (9.95 plus tax) or a Divvy membership (varies). Then undock the bike, ride, and re-dock it at any Divvy bike dock in the service area. While passes last 24 hours, bikes must be docked every half hour to prevent additional fees.

One of the primary goals for Divvy and other bike share programs is to connect to other transportation methods, such as connecting to a CTA bus line or a Metra train line. Since its establishment, Divvy has been widely popular in Chicago. In a statement by the Mayor’s office at the end of 2016, Divvy was near (and since surpassed) 10 million trips in less than four years of operation. With the additions of Evanston and Oak Park, Divvy covers the largest geographic area of North American bike share programs.

Photo: DNAInfo

The majority of Divvy docks are located outside of CTA stations, in the Loop, and along the lakefront. According to the Mayor’s 2016 report, the most popular stations in 2016 were located at:

  1. Streeter Dr. & Grand Ave. (Navy Pier)
  2. Lake Shore Dr. & Monroe St.
  3. Theater on the Lake (Fullerton Beach)
  4. Lake Shore Dr. & North Blvd.
  5. Clinton St. & Washington Blvd. (Ogilvie Station)
  6. Michigan Ave. & Oak St.
  7. Millennium Park
  8. Clinton St. & Madison St.
  9. Canal St. & Madison St.
  10. Canal St. & Adams St. (Union Station)

As Divvy grows in usage and popularity, they have introduced a number of discount memberships to ensure more people are able to use the bikes. Many Chicago corporations have a Divvy partnership and students are eligible for a discounted annual membership fee. Most recently, Divvy established the Divvy for Everyone program in 2015, a discounted annual membership for qualifying customers based on their household size and income. This is a one to two year discount membership starting at $5. This also allows for memberships to paid for by cash, eliminating the requirement of a bank or credit card that is needed for 24-hour passes and most annual memberships. More information on this program can be found below.

As the weather gets warmer, consider trying out this bike share program for a fun new way of seeing the city.

Photo: WTTW

See all the current Divvy stations here.

 

More Information about Divvy:

About Divvy: https://www.divvybikes.com/about

FAQ about Divvy and Bike Share: https://www.divvybikes.com/how-it-works/faq

Divvy for Everyone: https://www.divvybikes.com/pricing/d4e

Mayor Emanuel, Chicago Department of Transportation Announce Divvy Bike Share to Hit 10 Million Rider Mark in Coming Days (December 29, 2016) : https://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdot/provdrs/bike/news/2016/december/mayor-emanuel–chicago-department-of-transportation-announce-div.html

GSC is Going Green!

The Geographic Society of Chicago is Going Green!

We’re proud to be a 2017 sponsor of the Village of Wilmette’s Going Green Matters initiative. Going Green is designed to encourage residents of Wilmette and the Chicagoland area to consider their impact on the environment and change what they can to make their community more sustainable. Some of these ways include:

  • LED lighting
  • Energy-efficient homes
  • Solar energy
  • Active transportation
  • Clean, green cars
  • Natural yards and native habitat
  • Parks and open spaces
  • Storm water management
  • Water conservation
  • Edible gardens and smart food choices
  • Waste reduction and recycling

Learn more about the Going Green Matters movement here.

To promote this movement, Go-Green Wilmette and the Village of Wilmette will be hosting a Going Green Matters community event on Sunday, March 12. The Geographic Society of Chicago will be there – will you?

The event is FREE and will be held at Michigan Shores Club (911 Michigan Avenue) in Wilmette from 12pm – 4pm. This fair will include exhibits such as:

  • Environmental Graphiti Art Exhibit by artist Alisa Singer
  • Native Plant Sale
  • Raffle and Auction Prizes
  • Household Battery Recycling
  • The Geographic Society of Chicago’s Geosphere!

The event is for all ages and has something for everyone! For questions regarding the event, contact info@gogreenwilmette.org.

 

We hope to see you there!