Chicago Streetcars in Black-and-White

CSL 7001 northbound at State and Washington, 1934. This experimental pre-PCC car transported visitors back and forth to A Century of Progress. Note that there are only three stars on the Chicago flag. The fourth star, symbolizing Fort Dearborn, was added in 1939. (CSL Photo)

CSL 7001 northbound at State and Washington, 1934. This experimental pre-PCC car transported visitors back and forth to A Century of Progress. Note that there are only three stars on the Chicago flag. The fourth star, symbolizing Fort Dearborn, was added in 1939. (CSL Photo)

Chicago’s last streetcar ran in 1958, but while they lasted, they were a popular subject for railfan photographers. Today, they are artifacts of a time gone by, of neighborhoods, people, and fashions that were once so commonplace that few people took any special notice of them at the time.

Pictures like these are still coming out of the “woodwork,” and we have taken the opportunity to compile a sampling of them here for your enjoyment. Perhaps they will stimulate your memory if you are old enough to recall some of these times and places firsthand. If you are younger than that, we hope they will pique your curiosity.

If you can help us out with some of the missing locations, information or other trivia about what you see, we look forward to hearing from you with your comments.

-David Sadowski

PS- Clicking on each picture will bring up a larger version in your browser.

CTA 6127 on Kedzie at Catalpa. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CTA 6127 on Kedzie at Catalpa. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Bob Lalich writes, "CTA 6305 is turning north about to leave the private right of way just south of 94th St and enter the median of Stony Island. The water tank in the right distance was located on the BRC near their South Chicago engine house." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Bob Lalich writes, “CTA 6305 is turning north about to leave the private right of way just south of 94th St and enter the median of Stony Island. The water tank in the right distance was located on the BRC near their South Chicago engine house.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

(Joe L. Diaz Photo)

(Joe L. Diaz Photo)

(Joe L. Diaz Photo)

(Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 840 on Ravenswood Avenue at Rose Hill Cemetery on the Lincoln route circa 1947.

CSL 840 on Ravenswood Avenue at Rose Hill Cemetery on the Lincoln route circa 1947.

CSL 6200. Bill Shaptokin: "There appears to be an IC suburban station off to the left. This would indicate that the pic is on 75th, 79th, 87th or the east end of 95th." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 6200. Bill Shaptokin: “There appears to be an IC suburban station off to the left. This would indicate that the pic is on 75th, 79th, 87th or the east end of 95th.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 5722 on South Chicago northbound at 94th Street. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 5722 on South Chicago northbound at 94th Street. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 282 crossing the Illinois Central right-of-way in 1940.

CSL 282 crossing the Illinois Central right-of-way in 1940.

CTA 684 at the "Museum Loop," the eastern terminal of Route 12. Lake Shore Drive and the Field Museum are to the right, with the Illinois Central tracks at left.

CTA 684 at the “Museum Loop,” the eastern terminal of Route 12. Lake Shore Drive and the Field Museum are to the right, with the Illinois Central tracks at left.

CSL 5731 at 95th and Ewing on Route 5. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 5731 at 95th and Ewing on Route 5. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 3231 on State Street, turning westbound onto 59th. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 3231 on State Street, turning westbound onto 59th. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1775 in yet another patriotic paint scheme, this time at West Shops in October, 1943. (CSL Photo)

CSL 1775 in yet another patriotic paint scheme, this time at West Shops in October, 1943. (CSL Photo)

CSL 1775 in 1942, sporting the first of three patriotic paint schemes for this car.

CSL 1775 in 1942, sporting the first of three patriotic paint schemes for this car.

CSL 3226 on 67th Street between Oglesby and Stony Island, on the 67-69-71st Street route. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 3226 on 67th Street between Oglesby and Stony Island, on the 67-69-71st Street route. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1781 in patriotic garb. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1781 in patriotic garb. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 2589 on 134th Street westbound of Indiana. Bob Lalich adds, "CSL 2589 is about to cross a track that led from IC’s Wildwood Yard to the B&OCT and PRR at Riverdale." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 2589 on 134th Street westbound of Indiana. Bob Lalich adds, “CSL 2589 is about to cross a track that led from IC’s Wildwood Yard to the B&OCT and PRR at Riverdale.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 536 eastbound on Washington at Franklin in the 1940s, emerging from the tunnel that took streetcars under the Chicago River.

CSL 536 eastbound on Washington at Franklin in the 1940s, emerging from the tunnel that took streetcars under the Chicago River.

Bill Shapotkin says, "This is a W/B car on Harrison St. between Canal and Clinton (that is the main Post Office building in the background). View looks east." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Bill Shapotkin says, “This is a W/B car on Harrison St. between Canal and Clinton (that is the main Post Office building in the background). View looks east.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CTA 78 is shown at the east end of the Madison-Fifth shuttle in February, 1954. But wait-- wouldn't car 78 be on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago? In actuality, I think this is car 1781. Perhaps part of the number has fallen off. At left in the background you can see Fohrman Motors, a Chicago car dealer from 1912 to 1979. Three people were killed at the dealership by a disgruntled customer on January 7, 1966. The neighborhood, not far from the construction site for the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway, is already showing signs of urban decay. We discuss this in our post Some Thoughts on “Displaced” (August 30, 2016).

CTA 78 is shown at the east end of the Madison-Fifth shuttle in February, 1954. But wait– wouldn’t car 78 be on the Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago? In actuality, I think this is car 1781. Perhaps part of the number has fallen off. At left in the background you can see Fohrman Motors, a Chicago car dealer from 1912 to 1979. Three people were killed at the dealership by a disgruntled customer on January 7, 1966. The neighborhood, not far from the construction site for the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway, is already showing signs of urban decay. We discuss this in our post Some Thoughts on “Displaced” (August 30, 2016).

CTA 7013 on Wabash Avenue at 14th on August 6, 1954.

CTA 7013 on Wabash Avenue at 14th on August 6, 1954.

CTA 4402 at the Western-Berwyn loop.

CTA 4402 at the Western-Berwyn loop.

CTA 4340 southbound on State Street in 1947.

CTA 4340 southbound on State Street in 1947.

CTA 7143 on Clark Street near Lincoln Park. (Chicago Transit Authority Photo)

CTA 7143 on Clark Street near Lincoln Park. (Chicago Transit Authority Photo)

CSL 4051 is shown with an experimental door arrangement, which was tested on the busy Milwaukee Avenue car line.

CSL 4051 is shown with an experimental door arrangement, which was tested on the busy Milwaukee Avenue car line.

For many years, the Englewood "L" ended at 63rd and Loomis. In 1969, the CTA sensibly extended it a couple blocks west to Ashland, a more logical transfer point.

For many years, the Englewood “L” ended at 63rd and Loomis. In 1969, the CTA sensibly extended it a couple blocks west to Ashland, a more logical transfer point.

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A prewar PCC on 63rd Street heading eastbound.

A prewar PCC on 63rd Street heading eastbound.

From the subway entrance, we must be somewhere along the path of either the State or Dearborn-Milwaukee subways,

From the subway entrance, we must be somewhere along the path of either the State or Dearborn-Milwaukee subways,

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My guess is this would be 63rd street.

My guess is this would be 63rd street.

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Even after the CSL and CRT were merged to from the Chicago Transit Authority in 1947, there remained another privately owned bus operator, the Chicago Motor Coach Company, who operated double-decker buses on some of their routes. CTA purchased the Motor Coach operations in 1952.

Even after the CSL and CRT were merged to from the Chicago Transit Authority in 1947, there remained another privately owned bus operator, the Chicago Motor Coach Company, who operated double-decker buses on some of their routes. CTA purchased the Motor Coach operations in 1952.

In 1933, the Roosevelt Road streetcar was extended over the Illinois Central right-of-way in order to reach the "A Century of Progress" World's Fair and what we now call the Museum Campus.

In 1933, the Roosevelt Road streetcar was extended over the Illinois Central right-of-way in order to reach the “A Century of Progress” World’s Fair and what we now call the Museum Campus.

Chicago had three streetcar tunnels Downtown over the years, but which one is this? Bill Shapotkin: "This pic is the Van Buren St Tunnel -- view looks west across Franklin St. Note the "Met" train in the background:"

Chicago had three streetcar tunnels Downtown over the years, but which one is this? Bill Shapotkin: “This pic is the Van Buren St Tunnel — view looks west across Franklin St. Note the “Met” train in the background:”

30 thoughts on “Chicago Streetcars in Black-and-White

    • Looks like you’re right. Frank Hicks thinks so too.

      You can read more about the Van Buren Street Tunnel here. According to this article, the tunnel was not used in regular service after 1924, but was kept for training and emergencies until 1952. Since Mr. Hicks has identified car 1466 as having been used for training, chances are this picture was taken within that time frame.

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    • Only one tunnel came out not on a street, that was the Quincy tunnel. The LaSalle tunnel came up in the middle of LaSalle & the Washington in the middle of Washington.

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  1. A few photo locations, or at least some speculation:

    https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/img324-tif.jpg – at 83rd & Exchange looking east with the IC 83rd Street station in the left background

    https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/img323-tif.jpg – this is labeled as South Chicago looking north at 94th, but judging from the bridge in the right background I’m guessing it’s actually 95th Street looking east with South Chicago coming in from the upper left. I’m not certain on that but it seems to fit; the photographer could be standing on the railroad embankment just west of South Chicago.

    https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/img326-tif.jpg – just a guess but I looked up H. Graver & Co. meat packers and, surprise surprise, it was located at about 38th & Morgan. It’s possible that car 8000 was used as a crew locker at the end of the Morgan-Racine-Sangamon line at about that location, but this is just a guess.

    https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/img312-tif.jpg – looking east on Harrison at about Clinton with the old post office in the background

    https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/img286-tif.jpg – what a neat shot! This is taken looking west from Franklin at the eastern portal of the Van Buren streetcar tunnel, which was just north of Van Buren itself. The Met car in the background is on the connection from the Loop to the West Side Elevated. If memory serves car 1466 was used for training in later years, which makes sense because I believe the Van Buren tunnel was not in regular use for revenue service cars. Sister car 1467 is preserved, albeit almost completely disassembled, at IRM.

    https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/img289-tif.jpg – Lake & Wabash looking north

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    • Great information, thanks… CSL (and later CTA) had a materials handling yard in the general vicinity of 38th Place west of Halsted. The famous May 1954 “Red Car” CERA fantrip journeyed to this location, and Bernie Rossbach, who organized the trip, showed some pictures of this at his June 2014 CERA program.

      One of Bernie’s pictures (not currently available on the Internet) shows a CSL trailer in this materials handling yard, although we have no way of knowing if it is the same car 8000 in the Joe L. Diaz photo. It was common to use old cars as sheds, and some were even made into greenhouses, as you can read about in an article George Kanary wrote for First and Fastest.

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    • You are right about 95th at S Chicago looking east. Also, 8000 is definitely at the 38th St track department yard. As of 10/1/47 all the trailers (except ones lost in Devon fire) were still on the books, but all were storage cars all over the system – Burnside, 77th, Devon, North, 38th Material yard, others. Eventually CTA retired them all, but some had to be written off as “lost” as there was no record of what happened to them, but most likely just scrapped on the spot when a barn was closed down.

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  2. 6205 is at 118th and Burley, the terminal for the 30-South Chicago in its last days, one of the most god-forsaken ends of a route ever once the Hegewisch route was bussed. The frame tavern lasted into the 1970’s and all the way to that time you could still see where the car tracks had been on Burley south of there on what had years before been fenced off Republic Steel property.

    1761 is SB on State at Roosevelt. Reason for no signs is this was in the short period when Lake St ended at State and 18th in rush hours. It was no longer considered TR16, just Lake-State and car did not have correct signs, so just ran blanks.

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  3. A question: car 78 is also pictured on the Madison-Fifth shuttle in Lind’s book, which says it was renumbered from 1780. Was this the only car renumbered to a two-digit number by CTA?

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      • 5001-5004 were renumbered in conjunction with being refitted for Skokie Swift service, to put them in near-sequence to the other Skokie cars (23-26, 29-30). Only other vehicles CTA ever renumbered were the trolley buses from 51 thru 761 to 9051-9761 and gas buses 1400-1404 to 1620-1624 in 1952 when CMC was taken over.

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    • No, CTA records show it as scrapped as 1780. Apparently the 1 and 0 simply fell off that end of the car, as they were by that time decals and not painted on.

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  4. One photo shows a SB #36 car turning west on Lake from SB on Wabash.
    The other is a Brill 5610 going SB on Wabash passing the same corner of Lake.
    When PCCs started on #36, the new State St bridge was still not finished & this was the detour route.

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  5. One photo is of a car at State & Polk aprox. Caption said “along the subway route, State or Dearborn-Milwaukee.
    State was a wide street, the others over the D-M were narrow.
    Anyways, I recognize the location.

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  6. CTA 6305 is turning north about to leave the private right of way just south of 94th St and enter the median of Stony Island. The water tank in the right distance was located on the BRC near their South Chicago enginehouse.

    CSL 2589 is about to cross a track that lead from IC’s Wildwood Yard to the B&OCT and PRR at Riverdale.

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  7. CSL 2589 on 134th Street westbound of Indiana. Bob Lalich adds, “CSL 2589 is about to cross a track that lead from IC’s Wildwood Yard to the B&OCT and PRR at Riverdale.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

    I am searching for other photos of this Far South Side area. Any help on the source please? Excellent photo. Any date? Thank you

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    • Thanks for your interest. I have some other pictures that I will post sometime this month. If I have dates, I post them. Chances are, fans were inspired to take pictures shortly before trolley service ended. Exact dates for individual routes can be found at http://www.chicagorailfan.com/ctabdate.html and I found this for the South Chicago route (currently #30):

      10/21/46 – Hegewisch streetcar route converted to buses, route 25
      6/30/47 – South Chicago-Ewing converted to buses, combined with Hegewisch route 25
      12/4/49 – Through Route 5 discontinued, eliminating streetcars on South Chicago Ave.

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