Getting Around Town

Chicago is arranged on a grid, with a few diagonal streets radiating outwards from the Loop, the downtown district that is surrounded by a loop of elevated trains. The origin point of address numbers is located in the loop at the corner of State and Madison. East-West streets on the south side tend to be numbered, with the numbers increasing the more south you go; thus IIT (site of the conference) runs from 31st Street to 35th Street. See
the Streets and highways of Chicago for more details.


Chicago has no shortage of ways to get around town, the first option for most being the Chicago Transit Authority, which runs the buses and the L trains. The CTA offers per-ride fares (for $2 a ride) or day passes. The visitor passes give you unlimited rides for fixed periods (1, 2, 3, or 5 days). It is probably best if you pick up a day pass before you come and have it mailed to your home. You can do that at this link You can also buy them once you arrive in town at these locations, which includes vending machines at the CTA stations at both airports, a few other CTA stations on the Blue and Red lines, and Amtrak's Union Station. Note that transit passes CANNOT BE PURCHASED ON CAMPUS, and several of the locations are stores with limited hours.

While the Red and Blue lines run 24 hours, the others do not, typically stopping for a few hours in the early morning. Some buses have 24-hour "Night Hour" service, usually only once every half-hour or so. Again, see

More visitor information can be found at (Note: CTA stations show up in Google Maps as small blue 'M' icons. Metra Rail stations show up as small train icons.)

Note: There is work being done on the Blue Line during the weekend before YAPC. Those of you arriving on Sunday should be aware that there are shuttle busses involved mid-trip.

CTA: Getting to and from IIT

The 2 nearest CTA stations to IIT (the site of the conference) are the Red line's Sox Park/35th stop (which is still a few blocks away) and the Green line's 35th/Bronzeville/IIT stop. The north exit of the latter station will deposit you directly behind some of the IIT dorms. You can transfer between the Red and Green lines (and the Orange line, to Midway) at the Roosevelt station. Those taking the Blue line in from O'Hare can transfer to the Green line at the Clark station, or can transfer to the Red line at the Jackson station.

Note that trains are labeled with the color of the line and the final destination. Thus:

  • Red line to "Howard": north bound
    • from IIT, this takes you to Chinatown, runs as a subway under the Loop, and up north to the Addison station, 2 blocks away from the Goose Island Brewpub (location of the Pre-Conference Dinner)
  • Red line to "95th/Dan Ryan": south bound
    • From the Loop or Goose Island, this takes you to 35th/Sox Park. You can also transfer to the Green line at Roosevelt to go directly back to the IIT campus stop.
  • Green line to "Harlem/Lake": north to the Loop, and then west bound
    • transfer to Red line - Howard trains at Roosevelt to get to Addison stop & Goose Island
  • Green line – to either "Ashland/63rd", OR "East 63rd/Cottage Grove": south bound
    • From Roosevelt, both of these take you immediately back to IIT. Both of these branches stop at IIT before forking off to different final stations several miles away.

(Note: while Sunday night there will be
work on the Red Line, this only impacts the Loop subway stops on that line. There will be no problems taking this line to go between the Addison stop and the 35th/Sox stop, except that the Red Line will probably be running a little slower. And the Green Line is unaffected.)


There are also countless cabs in Chicago. If you ever are in need of a cab and don't see one, call 312-TAXI-CAB and request for one to be dispatched.

Metra Trains

Note that the CTA trains (i.e., the L) are separate from the Metra rail system, and CTA passes are not valid on them. These commuter trains reach the distant suburbs, use the same tracks as some Amtrak lines, and cost more per ride, with the cost going up the further you ride. See You can buy tickets from the conductors onboard the trains, but note that if the station you boarded has open ticket booths, you will be charged an extra $2 fee for not buying before you boarded.


Amtrak trains arrive at Union Station, just to the west of the Loop. See the downtown CTA map.

Intercity Bus

The Greyhound station is on Harrison and Jefferson, to the south and west of Union Station, and 2 blocks away from the Clinton station on the blue line. See the downtown CTA map.

Megabus buses arrive and depart at Union Station (see Amtrak, above).


IIT is located off of the Dan Ryan expressway, aka the branch of Interstates 90/94 that runs south from the Loop. To go to IIT, get off at exit 55A (35th Street) or exit 54 (31st Street, a little north of IIT).

IIT Parking Information

Real-time traffic reports on the highway system can be found at the GCM Travel Site (Gary-Chicago-Milwaukee).

Be aware of parking signs and parking meters. Some side-streets in certain neighborhoods (e.g., Wrigleyville) have signs indicating that they are parking by permit only. Parking in such a place will get you towed, faster than you'd probably think. Another way to get towed is to park in a store's lot, and leave the lot to go to a different store that does not use that lot. (It doesn't matter if you first go to the correct store, you'll get towed.)


Chicago has many bike routes; see this map. However, be very careful; bike fatalities seem to be a bit higher than usual so far this year. And of course, beware of bike theft.

Last modified: 06/12/08 06:54 AM by Mike Fragassi (‎frag‎)

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