Chicago's light-rail system is called the "L" -- short for "Elevated." That's because much of the system in America's third-largest city snakes above the streets on great metal viaducts.
Like many other cities, Chicago uses colors to identify the seven lines of the system -- Green, Blue, Yellow, and so forth. In anticipation of the opening of a new line next month, people wrote the transit company to suggest a color. Some got creative and picked wild colors you'll find only in the biggest box of waxed crayons. But no one could quite imagine announcing stops, above the clatter of a morning commute, on the "Periwinkle" or "Burnt Sienna" line.
So a simpler hue was selected. But the choice has caused an even bigger stir. As the Chicago Tribune newspaper notes with delight in a front-page story -- the rough-and-tumble place known as the "City of Broad Shoulders," once a stockyard town that still worships gruff sports heroes and wolfs down kielbasa sausage sandwiches, shots of whiskey, and lots of beer -- has chosen to call its new train route the "Pink Line"!
Pink, as in pink blankets and booties for baby girls. Pink, as in ballet slippers and bubble-gum and hot-pink lipstick. In short, not the most fearsome of colors for such a brawny place.
Supporters say the Pink Line will remind people of the ribbons and armbands worn by those who are fighting breast cancer. Others say it's about time we moved past the old stereotype that pink is for dainty girls and blue for bouncing boys.
Well, even though business big shots sometimes wear pink ties these days, we can't quite picture Chicagoans riding the Pink Line to a Bears' football game.