GERTRUDE Converts CTA Train Car Into Premium Venue
More train track lines radiate in more directions from Chicago than from anywhere else in the United States, making Chicago a crucial railroad center to North America. In the middle of Chicago, at the heart of the railways, is the ever-adapting village of Pilsen. The neighborhood has transformed over the years, but at the turn of the century Pilsen was at the heart of the industrial hub in the city and central to the accessibility of the city’s railroads and highways. Now in yet another exciting chapter, today’s Pilsen is also recognized as a leading creative hub in Chicago with some of the strongest artistic presence in the city. The area is home to thousands of artists, hosts hundreds of galleries, and is the location of the city’s monthly Art Walk.
From industrial center to artistic community, Pilsen has a unique and compelling history. One that can’t be told without acknowledging Pilsen as the historical home to a number of key buildings, businesses, and influencers in the city’s rich past. One of those buildings, located at 2150 South Canalport Avenue, stood a century ago as largest pasta producing factory in the country, called the Viviano Macaroni Company. Today, the revamped structure is a creative business professionals mecca situated in the heart of Chicago’s Pilsen arts district, and the home to the HQ office of GERTRUDE, INC., a global innovation, brand development, advertising, and marketing services agency.
Upon moving into the building’s loading dock, GERTRUDE had its eye on an exceptional property poised for transformation and brand activation sitting in the parking lot just outside the agency—retired CTA Train Car No. 2238.
For many years, those who lived in Chicago navigated the city in a 2200 Series stainless steel train car. The iconic railcar series was in service from 1969-2013 and primarily used on the CTA Blue Line. The train cars were the first of their kind. Designed by the Budd Company in Pennsylvania, the 2200 Series became an iconic standard for those traveling in between Forest Park and O’Hare by creating a streamlined commute from the suburbs into every part of the city. Only 150 of these train cars were ever made. Ten remain, existing in museums or used in movies, but most were sold for scrap. Living in the 2150 S. Canalport parking lot is one of the final surviving cars from the 2200 series built in 1967. CTA CAR NO. 2238.
With the building being a thriving creative community, as well as an integral part of Pilsen’s popular artistic scene and a one-of-a-kind destination in Chicago, naturally GERTRUDE saw an added opportunity to seamlessly integrate 2238 OFF THE RAILS into this culture. Recognizing the train car’s unique potential, GERTRUDE approached the property management with a name and brand activation concept to launch the train car as a brand new event venue called 22Thirty8 Off The Rails.
Car 2238, now simply dubbed “OFF THE RAILS,” has been repositioned, rebranded, and re-launched by GERTRUDE in collaboration with agency’s design division OZ MFG. COMPANY and Branded Architecture and Experiential division RAYE, as a 380 sq. ft., premium gallery and activation space featuring hard wood flooring, media capabilities, a service dry bar, and numerous interior/exterior branding opportunities. CTA Car #2238 takes a new leap forward as a premier event space that can host a wide variety of experiences, both inside the car and on its adjoining deck, making it the only premium space of its kind in Chicago, appropriately location in the city’s vibrant, industrial Pilsen Arst District. The venue is ideal for private events, tastings, screenings, and temporary creative workspace.
Further tying in with the community, 22Thirty8 OFF THE RAILS will also host OTR movie nights, screening movies filmed in Chicago on the 2nd Friday of each month to coincide with Pilsen’s monthly “2nd Friday” art walks. These events will be invite only, uniting influential members of the tenant community and professionals in Pilsen. 22Thirty8 OFF THE RAILS will also serve as an international artist showcase, featuring artworks by premium, globally renowned artists, commissioned on a periodic basis to paint the train exterior.
“OFF THE RAILS is a one-of-a-kind venue for Chicago, and a natural complement to the neighborhood’s one-of-a-kind creative culture. Activating the venue for GERTRUDE’s clients who work in innovation has been exceptionally well received, and complete proof of concept,” said GERTRUDE Founder, CCO Otis D. Gibson. “We look forward to seeing the next exciting transformation for Pilsen’s newest gem.”