Chicago Streetcars in Black-and-White, Part 3

North Chicago Street Railroad horse car 8 on January 2, 1926. The occasion was the opening of the new Cicero Avenue streetcar extension. This car, built in 1859 by the John Stephenson Car Company, is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.

North Chicago Street Railroad horse car 8 on January 2, 1926. The occasion was the opening of the new Cicero Avenue streetcar extension. This car, built in 1859 by the John Stephenson Car Company, is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.

This is the third installment in our ongoing series Chicago Streetcars in Black-and-White.   (You will find the second installment here.)

We offer you another generous selection of classic photos by some of the greatest railfan photographers of all time. As always, clicking on each picture will bring up a larger version in your browser.

If you have interesting information to share about these locales, we look forward to hearing from you. When referring to individual photos, please use either the car number or image number.

-David Sadowski

PS- For a view of the Stratoliner Lounge’s interior, click here.

CTA 1052, with a CSL logo still on the side of the car, on Damen Avenue on June 5, 1948.

CTA 1052, with a CSL logo still on the side of the car, on Damen Avenue on June 5, 1948.

CSL 1775 at Archer and Rockwell on October 25, 1942. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1775 at Archer and Rockwell on October 25, 1942. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 5645.

CSL 5645.

CSL 2571.

CSL 2571.

CSL 5782 on route 5 at Cottage Grove and 38th.

CSL 5782 on route 5 at Cottage Grove and 38th.

CSL 5070 "at Van Buren in front of Kedzie carhouse." -Andre Kristopans (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 5070 “at Van Buren in front of Kedzie carhouse.” -Andre Kristopans (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1026 passes 3290 at Lincoln and Wells, with the Hotel Lincoln in the background.

CSL 1026 passes 3290 at Lincoln and Wells, with the Hotel Lincoln in the background.

CSL 1408 at Ashland and Fulton in May 1946. Andre Kristopans adds, "note two things here – operator of car (not motorman, as this is a one-man car) has thrown the manual switch to continue east on Fulton, and note the trolley wire is a gauntlet between the two Fultons with a crossing frog, not a switch." (Robert W, Gibson Photo)

CSL 1408 at Ashland and Fulton in May 1946. Andre Kristopans adds, “note two things here – operator of car (not motorman, as this is a one-man car) has thrown the manual switch to continue east on Fulton, and note the trolley wire is a gauntlet between the two Fultons with a crossing frog, not a switch.” (Robert W, Gibson Photo)

CSL 3002 on Cicero at Lake Street, circa 1940. (M. D. McCarter Collection)

CSL 3002 on Cicero at Lake Street, circa 1940. (M. D. McCarter Collection)

CSL 200 is westbound on 75th and Exchange, crossing the Illinois Central electric. At left is the Stratoliner Lounge, located at 2634 E. 75th Street. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 200 is westbound on 75th and Exchange, crossing the Illinois Central electric. At left is the Stratoliner Lounge, located at 2634 E. 75th Street. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 2770 eastbound on 79th Street at Exchange Avenue. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 2770 eastbound on 79th Street at Exchange Avenue. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 3263 "westbound on 51st at California." -Andre Kristopans (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 3263 “westbound on 51st at California.” -Andre Kristopans (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 2906 at 26th and Cottage Grove. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 2906 at 26th and Cottage Grove. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Bob Lalich says, "The photo of NB 2619 was taken at 122nd St at the north end of the passing siding. I have seen a number of photos of two cars meeting at this spot, so I believe it was a regularly scheduled meeting point. This passing siding was literally in the middle of a marsh. The PRR-Calumet River RR can be seen in the background. The crossbuck protects the crossing of 122nd St and the Cal River RR. Republic Steel is also seen in the background." (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

Bob Lalich says, “The photo of NB 2619 was taken at 122nd St at the north end of the passing siding. I have seen a number of photos of two cars meeting at this spot, so I believe it was a regularly scheduled meeting point. This passing siding was literally in the middle of a marsh. The PRR-Calumet River RR can be seen in the background. The crossbuck protects the crossing of 122nd St and the Cal River RR. Republic Steel is also seen in the background.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1875. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1875. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 679 "westbound on 75th at Constance – B&O crossing (technically Baltimore & Ohio & Chicago RR old main line up to the IC at 69th and Dorchester)." -Andre Kristopans (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 679 “westbound on 75th at Constance – B&O crossing (technically Baltimore & Ohio & Chicago RR old main line up to the IC at 69th and Dorchester).” -Andre Kristopans (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1949 is eastbound on Grand, and 2909 is westbound on Division. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1949 is eastbound on Grand, and 2909 is westbound on Division. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 759 "is on Division west of California by Humboldt Park (west terminal of Division)." -Andre Kristopans (Joe L. Diaz)

CSL 759 “is on Division west of California by Humboldt Park (west terminal of Division).” -Andre Kristopans (Joe L. Diaz)

CSL 5404 "at 77th by 'east house' (now east half of barn that street between halves was roofed over)." -Andre Kristopans (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 5404 “at 77th by ‘east house’ (now east half of barn that street between halves was roofed over).” -Andre Kristopans (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 5583 on Vincennes near 104th.

CSL 5583 on Vincennes near 104th.

CSL 5817 at 95th and Commercial on route 5. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 5817 at 95th and Commercial on route 5. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 6117 southbound on California at Division. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 6117 southbound on California at Division. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)

CSL 1740 at West Shops. (CSL Photo)

CSL 1740 at West Shops. (CSL Photo)

CSL 1740 at West Shops. (CSL Photo)

CSL 1740 at West Shops. (CSL Photo)

CSL 952 on a charter.

CSL 952 on a charter.

CSL 1784 at West Shops. (CSL Photo)

CSL 1784 at West Shops. (CSL Photo)

CSL 949 on route 3. Andre Kristopans says we are "southbound at Indiana/43rd. Building to right is still there, though much altered (deteriorated)." (Robert W. Gibson Photo)

CSL 949 on route 3. Andre Kristopans says we are “southbound at Indiana/43rd. Building to right is still there, though much altered (deteriorated).” (Robert W. Gibson Photo)

CSL 1740 at West Shops. (CSL Photo)

CSL 1740 at West Shops. (CSL Photo)

CSL 1746 at West Shops in October 1943. (CSL Photo)

CSL 1746 at West Shops in October 1943. (CSL Photo)

CSL 6062 at 77th. (Joe l. Diaz Photo)

CSL 6062 at 77th. (Joe l. Diaz Photo)

CSL 5821, southbound on Cottage Grove near 105th. (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo)

CSL 5821, southbound on Cottage Grove near 105th. (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo)

CSL 6200 by Hammond Station (car house), 1939. According to Andre Kristopans, this street is called Gostlin. (M.D. McCarter Collection)CSL 6200 by Hammond Station (car house), 1939. According to Andre Kristopans, this street is called Gostlin. (M.D. McCarter Collection)

CSL 6200 by Hammond Station (car house), 1939. According to Andre Kristopans, this street is called Gostlin. (M.D. McCarter Collection)

1946 Chicago Expressway Plans

Capture68

Capture69

I ran across an interesting article detailing the plans for building what we know today as the Kennedy and Dan Ryan expressways as they stood in 1946.  Construction of the Northwest expressway did not begin until the late 1950s, and the highway opened in 1960.  The Dan Ryan followed and opened in 1961-62.

The Tribune article from April 18, 1946 shows that the routes for both expressways were already pretty much determined, with a few exceptions.

The South (Dan Ryan) expressway is shown as being on the east side of the Rock Island railroad tracks until 39th street, and then continues south between Lafayette and State streets to approximately 99th, where it would connect with the Calumet expressway and the “Chicago-Detroit Super-highway.”

As built, the Ryan stays west of the Rock Island and does not run between Lafayette and State until it reaches Marquette (67th) heading south.  The article says there will not be an interchange at 63rd because the road would be elevated at that point (it is not).  The Chicago Skyway is not mentioned in the article, since it likely was planned later (it opened in 1958).

Virgil Gunlock, as head of the Chicago Department of Subways and Superhighways, had a lot to do with the expressway planning.  He later became Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board, which runs the CTA.  He died in 1963 at age 57.

The two rapid transit lines that were eventually built in the Dan Ryan and Kennedy expressways (opened in 1969 and 1970) were not part of these plans until about 1955.  By that time, construction of the Congress (later Eisenhower) expressway was already well underway, with a rapid transit line in the median.

The Congress expressway is not mentioned in the article since planning for that had pretty much been completed prior to WWII.

Some portions of the expressways that the article says were to be built elevated were actually put into open cuts instead.  There is no mention of what we now call “Hubbard’s Cave” in the downtown area, but there is mention of a block-long tunnel between Ashland and Cortland.

The reversible lanes on the Kennedy were apparently something that did not enter into the design process until the 1950s.  I recall reading elsewhere that the reversibles ended up being shortened when the planners decided to add a rapid transit line to the highway.

Even in 1946, plans were for the highway to go past what we know today as O’Hare airport.  In the article, it is called Douglas Airport.  Prior to WWII, plans for the Northwest expressway stopped at the city limits.

The original idea for the Northwest expressway dated back to the 1920s. The original idea was for an elevated highway to run parallel to the Chicago and North Western railroad.

Even before WWII, there were plans for a South expressway that would parallel the Rock Island railroad.  It was thought that this sort of alignment would reduce the number of side streets that would have to be truncated because of the expressway.  The planners did not want to adversely affect local traffic on side streets.

As you can see, these highway plans were already very far along 9 years before Richard J. Daley became mayor.  In fact, they even predate the two terms of his predecessor, Martin Kennelly.  At the time this article was written, Edward Kelly was still in office.

-David Sadowski

Chicago Streetcars in Color, Part 3

CTA 662 in the historic Pullman neighborhood, northbound at St. Lawrence and 111th Place, on route 4.  Thanks to George Foelschow for providing the correct location.

CTA 662 in the historic Pullman neighborhood, northbound at St. Lawrence and 111th Place, on route 4. Thanks to George Foelschow for providing the correct location.

This is the third installment in our ongoing series featuring color pictures of Chicago streetcars. (You can read our first post here, and our second one here.)

As always, half the fun is trying to guess some of the locations where we do not have the information. I am always impressed at how knowledgeable and clever some of our readers are.

If you can help us out with some of the missing facts, please let us know. When referring to individual pictures, you can either use the car numbers or the image numbers. As always, you can bring up a larger version of each picture in your browser by clicking on it.

Unfortunately, we don’t know the names of the shutterbugs who took most of these pictures. One is by the great Truman Hefner, a legendary photographer who I had the pleasure of talking to last year. As far as I know, he is still going strong in his late 80s.

When we do know who pushed the button, rest assured we will always give proper credit to the photographers who took these great pictures.

Enjoy.

-David Sadowski

CTA 350 at the east end of route 66 - Chicago Avenue.

CTA 350 at the east end of route 66 – Chicago Avenue.

CTA 556 is southbound at Milwaukee/Desplaines/Kinzie, on route 56, according to Andre Kristopans.

CTA 556 southbound at Milwaukee/Desplaines/Kinzie, on route 56, according to Andre Kristopans.

CTA 521 is northbound at Milwaukee/Desplaines/Kinzie, on route 56, according to Andre Kristopans. This photo looks almost like a painting.

CTA 521 is northbound southbound at Milwaukee/Desplaines/Kinzie, on route 56, according to Andre Kristopans. This photo looks almost like a painting.

CTA 547, signed for route 56 – Milwaukee, on a shoofly going around Lower Wacker Drive construction, circa 1951. According to George Foelschow, the car “is on Madison Street with the Madison and Wells “L” station in the background.”

CTA 553 on route 56 - Milwaukee.

CTA 553 on route 56 – Milwaukee.

According to Bill Shapotkin, CTA 277 “is at State/Wacker. Car is S/B. View looks N/W.”

CTA 563, advertising WBBM-TV. Chuck Amstein adds, “also at 94th and Ashland, looking northeast. Same details looking through and around the car as img671 and img666 (chimney, red neon restaurant sign, Beverly Motors sign).”

CTA 414. Tony Waller writes, "Image 665 is probably at California & Roscoe – the actual north end of Route #52." Bill Shapotkin: "No doubt about it -- this IS at California and Roscoe -- view looks north."

CTA 414. Tony Waller writes, “Image 665 is probably at California & Roscoe – the actual north end of Route #52.” Bill Shapotkin: “No doubt about it — this IS at California and Roscoe — view looks north.”

CTA 532 at the Imlay loop on route 56 - Milwaukee.

CTA 532 at the Imlay loop on route 56 – Milwaukee.

CTA 201, signed to terminate at Pulaski and Cermak.

CTA 201, signed to terminate at Pulaski and Cermak.

CTA 550 on Madison, going by the Chicago Daily News building, just east of North Western Station.

CTA 550 on Madison, going by the Chicago Daily News building, just east of North Western Station.

CTA 585 on the north end of route 56 - Milwaukee, where the street is wider.

CTA 585 on the north end of route 56 – Milwaukee, where the street is wider.

CTA 529 at North Western Station.

CTA 529 at North Western Station.

CTA 458.

CTA 458.

CTA 225 is westbound on Belmont at Clark, on the short-turn loop via Halsted-Belmont-Clark, according to Andre Kristopans. Len Marcus adds, “turning southbound onto Clark Street.” This car is preserved at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

CTA 578 at the Imlay loop on route 56 - Milwaukee.

CTA 578 at the Imlay loop on route 56 – Milwaukee.

CTA 578 heads south on route 56 - Milwaukee, crossing both Damen and North.

CTA 578 heads south on route 56 – Milwaukee, crossing both Damen and North.

Two Pullmans at the end of the line at Ashland and 95th, according to Andre Kristopans. Chuck Amstein adds, “the large building to the left of the streetcars is Beverly Bowling lanes (I practically grew up in there).”

CTA 230 at Chicago and Wells.

CTA 230 at Chicago and Wells.

CTA 585 heads south on route 56 - Milwaukee. The landmark Montgomery Wards complex on Chicago Avenue is just barely visible at rear.

CTA 585 heads south on route 56 – Milwaukee. The landmark Montgomery Wards complex on Chicago Avenue is just barely visible at rear.

CTA 271 at North and Narragansett in November 1948. This was the west end of route 72, and streetcars turned back right in the middle of the street, as they did on many other lines.

CTA 271 at North and Narragansett in November 1948. This was the west end of route 72, and streetcars turned back right in the middle of the street, as they did on many other lines.

CTA 629 on that section of route 4 - Cottage Grove that parallels the Illinois Central electric.

CTA 629 on that section of route 4 – Cottage Grove that parallels the Illinois Central electric.

CTA 532 at the Imlay loop on route 56 - Milwaukee.

CTA 532 at the Imlay loop on route 56 – Milwaukee.

Red cars pass each other on a drawbridge on route 9 - Ashland.  According to Andre Kristopans, this is the Sanitary and Ship Canal at 29th Street or so.

Red cars pass each other on a drawbridge on route 9 – Ashland. According to Andre Kristopans, this is the Sanitary and Ship Canal at 29th Street or so.

Car 501 heads southbound at 4700 North Milwaukee on route 56. The building at rear is still standing as of 2015.

Car 501 heads southbound at 4700 North Milwaukee on route 56. The building at rear is still standing as of 2015.

CTA 5527 in route 9 – Ashland. Chuck Amstein adds, “75% sure img671 is at 94th and Ashland, looking northeast. The red neon restaurant sign at the left of the car can be seen through the car in img666. Also, the smokestack above the cars in both 666 and 671 appears the same.”

CTA 1725 is westbound on Randolph just east of Halsted on route 58 - Ogden. This is the approximate location of where the Kennedy expressway crosses Randolph today.

CTA 1725 is westbound on Randolph just east of Halsted on route 58 – Ogden. This is the approximate location of where the Kennedy expressway crosses Randolph today.

CTA 1010, signed for through route 3 - Lincoln-Indiana, is outbound on Lincoln Avenue at Catalpa, at the infamous Lincoln Avenue bend, according to Len Marcus.

CTA 1010, signed for through route 3 – Lincoln-Indiana, is outbound on Lincoln Avenue at Catalpa, at the infamous Lincoln Avenue bend, according to Len Marcus.

CTA 585 on the north end of route 56 - Milwaukee, where the street is wider.

CTA 585 on the north end of route 56 – Milwaukee, where the street is wider.

CSL 5377 at Southport and Clark, the north end of route 9 - Ashland.

CSL 5377 at Southport and Clark, the north end of route 9 – Ashland.

CTA 566 stopped at a safety island. Chuck Amstein says 566 “is at 94th & Ashland, looking northeast. The blue and red sign at left matches that on the right side of img680 (at 95th & Ashland).”

CTA 540, northbound at Desplaines and Milwaukee, is on route 56, according to Andre Kristopans.

CTA 540, northbound at Desplaines and Milwaukee, is on route 56, according to Andre Kristopans.

CTA 1746 on route 58, passes People's Pontiac, then located at 3120-58 W. Ogden. The dealership later moved to 6060 N. Western, the same address as "Z" Frank Chevrolet.

CTA 1746 on route 58, passes People’s Pontiac, then located at 3120-58 W. Ogden. The dealership later moved to 6060 N. Western, the same address as “Z” Frank Chevrolet.

CTA 3182 and 660 at the south terminal of route 4 - Cottage Grove.

CTA 3182 and 660 at the south terminal of route 4 – Cottage Grove.

CTA 460, eastbound at about 4600 W. 63rd Street, crossing the Belt Railway circa 1952-53 after PCCs were taken off this route. This car is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.

CTA 460, eastbound at about 4600 W. 63rd Street, crossing the Belt Railway circa 1952-53 after PCCs were taken off this route. This car is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.

CTA 330 at Kedzie Station (car barn) in March 1951.

CTA 330 at Kedzie Station (car barn) in March 1951.

CTA 1046 is at Southport and Clark on route 9 - Ashland, according to Andre Kristopans.

CTA 1046 is at Southport and Clark on route 9 – Ashland, according to Andre Kristopans.

Chicago Streetcars in Color, Part 2

CTA 7216 on route 22 - Clark-Wentworth. Andre Kristopans says, "PCC 7216 SB just south of Irving Park. Wunder’s Cemetery in background."

CTA 7216 on route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. Andre Kristopans says, “PCC 7216 SB just south of Irving Park. Wunder’s Cemetery in background.”

This is the second installment in our ongoing series featuring color pictures of Chicago streetcars. (You can read our earlier post here.)

As always, half the fun is trying to guess some of the locations where we do not have the information. I am always surprised at how knowledgeable and clever some of our readers are.

If you can help us out with some of the missing facts, please let us know. Each picture has an image number (for example, the first picture is #585) so please refer to the image numbers when discussing individual photographs. As always, you can bring up a larger version of each picture in your browser by clicking on it.

Unfortunately, we don’t know the names of the shutterbugs who took these pictures. When we do know who pushed the button, rest assured we will always give proper attribution to the photographer.

Enjoy.

-David Sadowski

Prewar PCCs 7019 and 4035 at 63rd and Damen on June 30, 1951.

Prewar PCCs 7019 and 4035 at 63rd and Damen on June 30, 1951.

CTA 3194 signed for Cottage Grove. According to Andre Kristopans, this car is "turning north off 115th onto St. Lawrence down in Pullman."

CTA 3194 signed for Cottage Grove. According to Andre Kristopans, this car is “turning north off 115th onto St. Lawrence down in Pullman.”

CTA 302 at Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive.

CTA 302 at Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive.

CTA 4014 on 63rd, having just crossed under the B&O, on February 17, 1951.

CTA 4014 on 63rd, having just crossed under the B&O, on February 17, 1951.

CTA 4408 on route 22.

CTA 4408 on route 22.

Red cars 652 and 678 pass on Halsted near 74th.

Red cars 652 and 678 pass on Halsted near 74th.

CTA 144, now at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, is shown on one of those later fantrips after the end of red car service. The follower is a PCC, also part of the fantrip.

CTA 144, now at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, is shown on one of those later fantrips after the end of red car service. The follower is a PCC, also part of the fantrip.

CTA 4047, on route 63, is on Central, making a jog from 63rd Street to 63rd Place, before heading west on private right of way.

The date is September 17, 1949. CTA 4047, on route 63, is on Central, making a jog from 63rd Street to 63rd Place, before heading west on private right of way.

CTA 4168, on diversion trackage, heads west on Chicago Avenue, near the landmark Montgomery Wards Company Complex.

CTA 4168, on diversion trackage, heads west on Chicago Avenue, near the landmark Montgomery Wards Company Complex.

CTA 692 is on the Museum Loop near the Field Museum and Soldier Field.

CTA 692 is on the Museum Loop near the Field Museum and Soldier Field.

CTA 6150 is signed for route 42 - Halsted Downtown.

CTA 6150 is signed for route 42 – Halsted Downtown.

CTA 6118, signed for route 42 - Halsted Downtown, heads north at Halsted and 75th.

CTA 6118, signed for route 42 – Halsted Downtown, heads north at Halsted and 75th.

CTA 6142 still wears a CSL logo, so this must be in the early CTA era, looking at some of the automobiles

CTA 6142 still wears a CSL logo, so this must be in the early CTA era, looking at some of the automobiles.

CTA 5320.

CTA 5320.

CTA 225, now preserved at seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine, is shown on one of those 1954-58 fantrips held after the end of red car service.

CTA 225, now preserved at seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine, is shown on one of those 1954-58 fantrips held after the end of red car service.

CTA 661 on Blue Island. Andre Kristopans says, "661 – WB just west of Blue island/Cermak/Ashland intersection. Note that “Jerry’s Grill” in the background was once a bank according to Stone above corner door!"

CTA 661 on Blue Island. Andre Kristopans says, “661 – WB just west of Blue island/Cermak/Ashland intersection. Note that “Jerry’s Grill” in the background was once a bank according to Stone above corner door!”

CTA 143, sister car to the 144 at IRM, is southbound on Halsted.

CTA 143, sister car to the 144 at IRM, is southbound on Halsted.

CTA 900 is signed for route 28 - Stony Island. Bob Lalich notes that the car "looks to be just south of 93rd St in the Stony Island median. You can see the pole line for the 93rd St line in the right background."

CTA 900 is signed for route 28 – Stony Island. Bob Lalich notes that the car “looks to be just south of 93rd St in the Stony Island median. You can see the pole line for the 93rd St line in the right background.”

According to Andre Kristopans, "CTA 697 is on Waveland between Broadway and Halsted, facing west."

According to Andre Kristopans, “CTA 697 is on Waveland between Broadway and Halsted, facing west.”

CTA 6142 still wears a CSL logo, so this must be in the early CTA era, looking at some of the automobiles

CTA 6142 still wears a CSL logo, so this must be in the early CTA era, looking at some of the automobiles.

CTA 637 heads west on private right of way on route 63. Looks like the second track has just ended.

CTA 637 heads west on private right of way on route 63. Looks like the second track has just ended.

Andre Kristopans says, "CTA 527 is in the Milwaukee/Imlay loop."

Andre Kristopans says, “CTA 527 is in the Milwaukee/Imlay loop.”

A woman prepares to board CTA 229 at the Museum Loop on June 24, 1951

A woman prepares to board CTA 229 at the Museum Loop on June 24, 1951.

CTA 581 on route 56 - Milwaukee Avenue. Andre Kristopans adds, "CTA 581 is about 200 feet south of Imlay loop, heading south."

CTA 581 on route 56 – Milwaukee Avenue. Andre Kristopans adds, “CTA 581 is about 200 feet south of Imlay loop, heading south.”

Andre Kristopans says, "558 NB Ashland at Roosevelt. Note Roosevelt tracks are spread very wide as west of here was boulevard with car tracks in the service drives. Note also the church in background – still there. In distance is Burlington and CNW underpasses at 15th St."

Andre Kristopans says, “558 NB Ashland at Roosevelt. Note Roosevelt tracks are spread very wide as west of here was boulevard with car tracks in the service drives. Note also the church in background – still there. In distance is Burlington and CNW underpasses at 15th St.”

CTA 518 is southbound on route 9 - Ashland, "just past the BRC and Wabash RR viaduct at 75th St," according to Bob Lalich.

CTA 518 is southbound on route 9 – Ashland, “just past the BRC and Wabash RR viaduct at 75th St,” according to Bob Lalich.

According to Andre Kristopans, "CTA 491 is coming into 63 Pl/Narragansett loop. The driveway to the right of the car is how the 65A-63rd/65th extension buses exited. Later this whole area was paved over for bus use, and recently over half of the property became the site of a branch library, leaving only a very small bus loop."

According to Andre Kristopans, “CTA 491 is coming into 63 Pl/Narragansett loop. The driveway to the right of the car is how the 65A-63rd/65th extension buses exited. Later this whole area was paved over for bus use, and recently over half of the property became the site of a branch library, leaving only a very small bus loop.”

CTA 248 at 63rd and Peoria in 1952.

CTA 248 at 63rd and Peoria in 1952.

Red cars 278 and 129 pass at Paulina and Van Buren on route 9 - Ashland. The old Marshfield "L" station is at rear.

Red cars 278 and 129 pass at Paulina and Van Buren on route 9 – Ashland. The old Marshfield “L” station is at rear.

CTA 248 at 63rd and Ashland in May 1953. Note the safety island.

CTA 248 at 63rd and Ashland in May 1953. Note the safety island.

Cars 269 and 1736 pass. One car is signed for route 52 - Kedzie; however, the slide says this is 2800 W. Chicago Avenue. The date is May 4, 1952. Andre Kristopans writes, "CTA 269 and 1736 are indeed at 2800 W Chicago Av. 52 cars used four blocks of Chicago to go between California and Kedzie. The left-hand turnoff to go north on California is right in front of 1736."

Cars 269 and 1736 pass. One car is signed for route 52 – Kedzie; however, the slide says this is 2800 W. Chicago Avenue. The date is May 4, 1952. Andre Kristopans writes, “CTA 269 and 1736 are indeed at 2800 W Chicago Av. 52 cars used four blocks of Chicago to go between California and Kedzie. The left-hand turnoff to go north on California is right in front of 1736.”

Car 522, signed for route 56 - Milwaukee, passes 585. Andre Kristopans says, "The gas holder is the one at Augusta and Grand. This would make the most likely spot Milwaukee and Carpenter."

Car 522, signed for route 56 – Milwaukee, passes 585. Andre Kristopans says, “The gas holder is the one at Augusta and Grand. This would make the most likely spot Milwaukee and Carpenter.”

CTA 229 on the Museum Loop at the east end of the Roosevelt Road car line.

CTA 229 on the Museum Loop at the east end of the Roosevelt Road car line.

Car 227 at Chicago and Michigan, passing by the historic Water Tower and pumping station.

Car 227 at Chicago and Michigan, passing by the historic Water Tower and pumping station.

CTA 282 at Belmont and Lavergne in 1949, passing Foreman High School.

CTA 282 at Belmont and Lavergne in 1949, passing Foreman High School.

Superman in the Subway

Superman vs. third rail.  Guess who wins?  Special effects here are some squiggly lightning bolts painted onto the film.

Superman vs. third rail. Guess who wins? Special effects here are some squiggly lightning bolts painted onto the film.

I have enjoyed watching the 1951-57 Adventures of Superman TV series since I was a small child in the late 1950s, and for me and millions of other people my age, there will never be a better Superman than actor George Reeves.

While Superman co-creator Joe Shuster apparently based the fictional city of Metropolis on Toronto, where he lived as a child, the TV Metropolis looked a lot like Los Angeles, where the series was filmed.  The iconic LA City Hall stood in for the Daily Planet building, and exterior scenes were filmed throughout the area, and also on the RKO Forty Acres back lot later used as Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show.

In episode 30 (“Jet Ace”), first aired on October 10, 1953, the Daily Planet crew make a short trip to an Air Force base in the vicinity of Metropolis, where there is a large map of California on the wall.  So, as far as the TV series was concerned, it looks like Metropolis was located in California.

That is, except for the Metropolis subway, as featured in episode 31 (“Shot in the Dark,” October 17, 1953).  That looks just like the New York City subway.

Truth be told, in 1953 there were hardly any subways west of the Mississippi.  The only US cities with rapid transit subways were New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Rochester, NY (which shut down in 1956).  Newark had its streetcar subway and there were short stretches in San Francisco.

Los Angeles had about a half-mile of subway downtown for the fast-disappearing Pacific Electric interurban network.  The old Subway Terminal, which operated from 1925 to 1955.

I have always found the depictions of transit systems in movies and TV shows to be quite interesting and informative, in part because they reflect the public perceptions of their time.  For example, streetcars are quite commonly seen in movies made prior to World War II, but rarely seen afterwards.

By the time they started appearing in films again, such as Avalon (1990) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988), a streetcar/light rail renaissance was well underway.  But trolleys were so unusual that these films sometimes got the technical details wrong- the ersatz PE cars in Roger Rabbit had both trolley poles up at the same time.

It’s as if people had forgotten what streetcars were like, just as America had apparently forgotten how to build streetcars after 1952.

Chances are, the producers of the Superman TV series could just as easily filmed scenes in at the PE subway terminal, so why didn’t they?  That would have involved the use of streetcars and interurban cars, which were considered old fashioned in 1953.  Public officials in Los Angeles desired a new rapid transit system for the region, and figuring the Pacific Electric could not easily be upgraded into one, they were content to simply let it die.

Los Angeles now has Metro Rail, an extensive and growing network of rapid transit subways, first opened in 1990.  These function as indirect descendants of the former PE and LA Railways lines.  In some places, rail transit has been put back where it once had been before, as in the case of the old PE line from LA to Long Beach, now the Blue Line.

Getting back to “Shot in the Dark,” the writers and producers apparently did not know a lot about actual rapid transit operations, since the story has a few mistakes in it.  In this episode, the “Valley Local” and the “Valley Express” are apparently running on the same set of tracks, whereas in New York, they would likely be relegated to different ones.

In the plot, Jimmy Olsen runs away from a crook holding a valuable photograph that turns out to be evidence that a crook, thought to have died, is still alive.  He gets on a subway train, and the doors close just ahead of his pursuer.

Clark Kent overhears the telephone conversation between the criminals, who decide to take over the following local train and have it smash into the express train that Jimmy is on.  Then, in the confusion, they plan to steal the photograph.

Oddly enough, subway trains in 1950s Metropolis seem to have two sets of streetcar-type K-controllers, one for the motorman and one for the conductor.  One crook knocks out the motorman and pushed the controller handle, after giving two rings to the conductor.  The other crook pushes forward a second K controller, which then makes the train go.

After Clark Kent thinks up a way to ditch Lois Lane, he changes into Superman and flies ahead of the out of control train, where he smashes the third rail and saves the day.  While the special effects in these shows look pretty hokey today, reliving these “thrilling days of yesteryear” is something I hope to do long into the future.

-David Sadowski

The 1951-57 Adventures of Superman TV series was shot in Hollywood and used the Los Angeles City Hall building at right as the Daily Planet building.  Unfortunately, there's no rapid transit line in the median of this freeway.

The 1951-57 Adventures of Superman TV series was shot in Hollywood and used the Los Angeles City Hall building at right as the Daily Planet building. Unfortunately, there’s no rapid transit line in the median of this freeway.

In the Superman episode "Jet Ace," aired just before "Shot in the Dark," the Daily Planet crew are shown at a California air base that is supposed to be in the general vicinity of Metropolis.

In the Superman episode “Jet Ace,” aired just before “Shot in the Dark,” the Daily Planet crew are shown at a California air base that is supposed to be in the general vicinity of Metropolis.

The "M" train approaches.

The “M” train approaches.

A rather basic subway set was built for this episode, with a small stairway, a vending machine, a phone booth, and some subway tile. Looks like Metropolis has a 34th Street station just like Manhattan does

A rather basic subway set was built for this episode, with a small stairway, a vending machine, a phone booth, and some subway tile. Looks like Metropolis has a 34th Street station just like Manhattan does.

The doors are closing... and the camera is panned to simulate the movement of a subway train.

The doors are closing… and the camera is panned to simulate the movement of a subway train.

Jimmy Olsen gets away on the "Valley Express."

Jimmy Olsen gets away on the “Valley Express.”

Lois detains Clark Kent and keeps him from chasing the bad guys.

Lois detains Clark Kent and keeps him from chasing the bad guys.

The Valley Local, after being sabotaged, is supposed to catch up to the Valley Express and crash into it after about three stops, meaning they are traveling on the same set of tracks.

The Valley Local, after being sabotaged, is supposed to catch up to the Valley Express and crash into it after about three stops, meaning they are traveling on the same set of tracks.

The first crook konks the motorman, then throws the K-type controller forward before leaving the train.

The first crook konks the motorman, then throws the K-type controller forward before leaving the train.

The second crook pushes forward a second K-type controller. Apparently the Metropolis subway cars do not have a "deadman switch."

The second crook pushes forward a second K-type controller. Apparently the Metropolis subway cars do not have a “deadman switch.”

Apparently, Metropolis has a subway system that looks just like New York's, as this picture of an "M" train shows. (I guess the M here is supposed to stand for Metropolis, although the trains in this episode are called the Valley Express and the Valley Local.)

Apparently, Metropolis has a subway system that looks just like New York’s, as this picture of an “M” train shows. (I guess the M here is supposed to stand for Metropolis, although the trains in this episode are called the Valley Express and the Valley Local.)

To simulate flight, actor George Reeves would jump on some sort of springboard just out of view at the bottom of the screen, then leap over the camera and land on some mattresses. He got very good at this sort of thing.

To simulate flight, actor George Reeves would jump on some sort of springboard just out of view at the bottom of the screen, then leap over the camera and land on some mattresses. He got very good at this sort of thing.

Due to the limitations of 1950s special effects, here Superman is literally "flying by wire." Two wires holding up actor George Reeves are visible against the dark background of Superman's cape.

Due to the limitations of 1950s special effects, here Superman is literally “flying by wire.” Two wires holding up actor George Reeves are visible against the dark background of Superman’s cape.

Superman lands in the subway tunnel.

Superman lands in the subway tunnel.