Chicago Rapid Transit Mystery Photos – Solved

Image #820 shows CTA 2730 at Van Buren and Ashland, on the reroute of the Garfield Park “L” used between 1953 and 1958. A sign hanging on the front of the car indicates this train connects with a Chicago, Aurora & Elgin train leaving DesPlaines Avenue at 6:12 pm. The #9 Ashland streetcar, bussed in early 1954, actually ran on Paulina at this point. This slide is dated August 1955, but you would think expressway construction would have been further along by then. Perhaps the date is wrong and the picture was taken earlier.

Based on the many entries we received, our readers had a field day with our Chicago Rapid Transit Mystery Photos contest. Here are all 21 photos from our original post, with locations and other interesting information added to the captions.

We thank everyone who participated. There were many good submissions, but probably the best overall entry came from Andre Kristopans. Edward Maurath also provided us with lots of great historical tidbits, even though his entry came in past the contest deadline. He gets an honorable mention.

Although one person wrote that identifying the locations was not difficult, no one seems to have gotten all the information 100% correct. The most difficult picture to pin down was #809. There is only one location on the outer end of the Lake Street “L” where the street takes a jog like the one seen in the picture, and that is at Harlem Avenue.

Image #807 also threw some people for a loop, but it is clearly taken at Rockwell, since the “L” train has just descended the ramp from Western. Also, one of the storefronts in the picture houses the Rockwell Upholstering Service.

Keep an eye on this site for more “mystery photos” in the future!

-David Sadowski

PS- According to John Bromley, the photos with the fuzz at the top of the frame were probably shot by John Stern. If they were all taken at about the same time, the time frame would be somewhere between late 1949 and early 1951. This can be inferred due to there being A/B skip stop service on Lake and Ravenswood, but not Douglas. The Normal Park and Kenwood branches are already being operated as shuttles in these pictures, and the wood Logan Square train photo would have to predate the opening of the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway on February 25, 1951. The Douglas Park “L” was cut back to 54th in 1952.

(This picture was not officially part of the contest.) There is probably no way anyone could guess it, but this picture on CTA car 2787 was taken on the last day of Humboldt Park “L” service, May 3, 1952. Edward Maurath notes, “Car 2787 was built by Barney and Smith for the Metropolitan as number 787.”

Image #818 shows CTA 6066-6067 at Logan Square terminal, most likely in the early 1950s. (Charles K. Willhoft Photo)

Image #818 shows CTA 6066-6067 at Logan Square terminal, most likely in the early 1950s. (Charles K. Willhoft Photo)

Image #817 shows a Normal Park shuttle train on the inbound track at 63rd and Harvard, ready to proceed south. As Robert Leffingwell notes, “The Normal Park branch was so close to Harvard Ave. that it didn’t have to cross over to the southbound track.” This picture was probably taken circa 1949.

Image #816 shows CTA 3161 (originally 161), at Randolph and Wabash circa 1949. Edward Maurath notes, “To me this is by far the most valuable picture in the set because it shows on of the original Lake Street cars. Pictures of any of the wooden cars bought by the Lake Street Line are almost as scarce as hens’ teeth. Unlike the wooden cars of the other three lines which were painted Pullman green, Lake Street wooden cars came from the factory painted Tuscan red… Notice that the controls are on the left side. This is because the Lake Street Line ran left-handed until 1913.”

Edward Maurath says, “Nearer car (in Image #815) is 392, originally made for the South Side Line in 1905 by American Car and Foundry.” The location is Kimball and Lawrence, terminal of the Ravenswood “L” (today’s Brown Line). This photo was taken circa 1949. Litter was apparently a problem then too.

Image #814 shows a Lake Street “L” train at Clark and Lake circa 1949. Edward Maurath says, “The car number is in the range [1700–1734]. It was originally made for the Northwestern line by American Car and Foundry in 1903 and did not acquire the initial ‘1’ in its number until 1913. Those cars were transferred to the Lake Street line early on.”

Image #813 is looking west at Marshfield Met Main with a westbound CA&E train at the auxiliary platform. Edward Maurath notes, “Wooden cars acquired by the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin second hand from the North Shore Line at Marshfield Jct, a very busy place. …Tracks curving to the north went to the Logan Square and Humboldt Park branches, while tracks curving to the south went to the Douglas Park branch. When these tracks were removed in 1953 to make room for the Eisenhower Expressway, the north and south tracks were connected to form what was later called ‘the Paulina Connector.’ ” An inbound Logan Square “L” train is visible at right.

Andre Kristopans says that Image #812 shows a “Kenwood shuttle EB leaving Lake Park/Ellis approaching 42nd Pl terminal.” The date is circa 1949.

Image #811, according to Andre Kristopans, shows a “Normal Park shuttle between Harvard Englewood and Stewart Jct – appears inbound.” Edward Maurath notes that car “223 was made by Jewett in 1902 for the South Side Line, then known as the ”alley L’.”

Image #810 shows, as Andre Kristopans notes, a “Kenwood shuttle at (the) Indiana pocket.” Edward Maurath adds, “By this time the Kenwood Line had been demoted to a shuttle. Notice the remains of where the Kenwood Line used to have a double track connection to the main line. The car would appear to date back to the 19th century. View is looking east.” The time is circa 1949.

Image #809 is one that I don’t think anyone guessed correctly. It’s obvious that this is the outer portion of the Lake Street “L” where it ran on the ground. But the street takes a jog just behind the “L” car, and the only place this could be is Harlem Avenue. On the west side of Harlem, it’s Forest Park. This appears to be the back entrance to the Marion Street station. The “L” was relocated onto the C&NW embankment in 1962. This picture was probably taken around 1949.

Edward Morath says Image #808 shows “Nearer car 2100 built by Pullman in 1894. Train is leaving Damen station headed northwest.” This is presumably a Logan Square train on what is now today’s CTA Blue Line. The photo was probably taken circa 1949.

Image #807 shows an outbound Ravenswood train at Rockwell, circa 1949. The train has just descended a ramp from the Western station.

Image #807 shows an outbound Ravenswood train at Rockwell, circa 1949. The train has just descended a ramp from the Western station.

Andre Kristopans says that Image #806 is “looking east from Exchange on the Stock Yards branch.” The time is circa 1949.

Edwatd Maurath says that Image #805 shows a “Very old South Side gate car headed east towards Exchange Station, looking west towards same bridge as in #806. From the shadows, it appears to be around noon.” We are on the Stockyards branch circa 1949.

Image #804, according to Andre Kristopans, shows “Randolph/Wabash with Garfield local to Desplaines on (the) Inner Loop track.” Edward Maurath adds, “Nearest car is 2871 (originally Metropolitan car 871) built by Pullman in 1906. Notice the so called “monitor” roof found on all the later Metropolitan cars.”

Image #803 shows a very old Met car heading into the Oak Park Avenue station on the Douglas “L” circa 1949. Douglas Park trains did not get A/B “skip stop” service until 1951. In 1952, the line was cut back to 54th Avenue and service west of there was provided by an “interurban” bus.

Image #802 shows the old Harvard Theatre, which was at 6312 S. Harvard Avenue. This is the same area as Image #811, on the Englewood “L”, and the time is around 1949. According to the Cinema Treasures website, the 750-seat Harvard Theatre closed in the 1960s and has since been demolished:
http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/5345%5B/caption%5D

[caption id="attachment_1016" align="alignnone" width="665"]Image #801 shows the Kimball Yard on the Ravenswood "L", today's Brown Line, looking northwest. It's hard to imagine it looking like this, considering how tight space is in this yard today. A southbound Kimball bus (a Brill 2000-series) is at left, and the date is circa 1949. Check out the duck pond. Image #801 shows the Kimball Yard on the Ravenswood “L”, today’s Brown Line, looking northwest. It’s hard to imagine it looking like this, considering how tight space is in this yard today. A southbound Kimball bus (a Brill 2000-series) is at left, and the date is circa 1949. Check out the duck pond.

Image #800 shows the same area as Image #813, a CA&E train of wood cars at the Marshfield auxiliary platform circa 1949. (The Great Third Rail, CERA B-105, says on page II-7 that “CA&E maintained its own westbound loading platform just west of Marshfield junction on the Garfield ‘L’ line.”) These cars were ex-North Shore Line and were purchased by CA&E in 1946, ironically the last passenger cars bought by the railroad. The Douglas branch curves off to the left. Today, the Eisenhower Expressway runs through this spot.

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