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Your City Defined: The El (thē ˈel)

Please, stop calling it the Market-Frankford Line.

“The El” is what Philly lifers call the “Blue Line” or the Market-Frankford Line. The train, which takes riders from the Frankford Transportation Center to 69th Street, is elevated above the city except between 2nd and 40th streets, where it runs underneath Market Street. Because it’s the elevated train, it’s been called “The El” for forever.

The 5.25 mile-long Frankford Elevated section was built between 1915 and 1922 and began regular service from Northeast Philly to Center City on November 5, 1922. Daily ridership on the line peaked at 250,000 in the 1940s. After years of shutting the EL down between midnight and 5 AM, SEPTA in June started overnight service, adding 15,000 riders a week.

While riding The El has typically been about getting from Point A to Point B, Philly-born graffiti artist Stephen Powers turned it into an art project in 2009. With the Mural Arts Program, Powers painted A Love Letter For You, a series of rooftop murals between 45h and 63rd street. Now Mural Arts offers a “Love Letters Tour,” and in 2011,  a couple was married by Mayor Nutter aboard a special “Love Train.”

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