Chicago PCC Updates

CTA 7261 is southbound on Halsted, at the intersection with Grand and Milwaukee Avenues. This car is incorrectly signed for route 42 (should be 8).

CTA 7261 is southbound on Halsted, at the intersection with Grand and Milwaukee Avenues. This car is incorrectly signed for route 42 (should be 8).

One of the advantages of an electronic book is that it can be updated and improved as new information becomes available. Today’s post features the latest updates to our E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, which is available in our Online Store.

First off, we have acquired another rare supervisor’s track map from December 1946. Now, our E-book includes the CSL maps from 1941, 1946, and the CTA versions from 1948, 1952, and 1954.

These maps are much more detailed than the usual route maps and show the locations of crossovers, wyes, loops, stations (car barns), etc. etc. in great detail. They include the trolley coach and motor bus routes as well as streetcars.

Our E-book now includes five supervisor's track maps, from 1941, 1946, 1948, 1952, and 1954.

Our E-book now includes five supervisor’s track maps, from 1941, 1946, 1948, 1952, and 1954.

Detail from the Chicago Surface Lines supervisor's map from 1941, as featured in our E-book.

Detail from the Chicago Surface Lines supervisor’s map from 1941, as featured in our E-book.

We have also added more photos, some of which are reproduced here. Over the last few months, we have added at least 30 new photos to the book.

E-book Update Service

If you purchase a copy today, you will receive most current version of the book. If you already bought one, we can provide you with an updated version at little or no cost. We can set you up to download the new files via Dropbox, a free file sharing service, at no additional charge.

If you would prefer an updated disc, we can send you one for just $5 to addresses within the United States. Contact us at thetrolleydodger@gmail.com for further details.

We want you to be able to buy the E-book with confidence that you will not miss out on any future improvements.

PCC Correspondence

Frank Weed writes:

I enjoyed the DVD Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story. I especially like the track maps of the system. My question — Is there any diagrams of the shops and barns? I am interested in the track arrangement of the yards.

The Surface Lines had numerous “stations,” as the car barns were called. If we can get hold of the information, we will add it to the E-book, thanks.

George Trapp writes:

The revised disc arrived the day after you mailed it, which was quite surprising. The list of scrapping dates for each individual car was very interesting, hopefully the inservice dates for each individual car can be found and published in the future.

Regarding the Pullman built cars, Lot 6749 for series 4062-4171, car 4062 was photographed at Pullman’s former Osgood-Bradley plant on 9-3-46, while car 4067 was photographed over a month later on 10-8-46, leaving me to believe that 4062 was shipped over a month before the rest of the cars started delivery.

The Lot 6786 cars series 4172-4371, car 4172 was photographed by Pullman’s studio the E. B. Luce Company on 9-16-47 and car 4306 hoisted up by the plant crane has a photo date of 11-20-47. In the series cars 4172-4196 were delivered first, then deliveries jumped to 4272-4371 with 4197-4271 being the last. This may have been done because of the CTA trying to cancel the order.

On your disc, Post War PCC’s #1, on Page 12 lower, page 15 upper and page 28 both views have photos dates of Oct. 1, 1949. I think they were taken later, probably 1951 or 1952. Per the Aug. 1950 issue of MASS TRANSPORTATION outside advertising on the CTA wasn’t authorized by city ordinance until 4-13-1950. Also, I doubt if any cars were painted dark green before the arrival of the propane Twin Coach 5000 series buses in late 1950.

On page 13, believe location is Clark and Roosevelt.

On page 26, lower view is of car 4055 not 4065.

On PostWar PCC’s #2, Page 2, upper photo of car being towed, it’s probably headed to West Shops for repair, I have this print as well from the late Joe Diaz and it looks like there’s some body damage on the PCC.

Pages 38 bottom view and page 46 upper view are 81st street looking east from Halsted.

Thanks… we will make corrections to the captions you cite. Sometimes the information written on a print or slide turns out to be wrong.

We know that the Chicago Transit Authority did try to cancel the PCC order, since this was reported in the press (see page 39 of Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association*), but I believe this happened in 1947, not 1946.

The newly-formed CTA, you may recall, was instrumental in getting the 600 Postwar PCC cars ordered in 1945. This was part of a long-range plan to modernize all of Chicago’s transportation systems, first published in 1937 (and detailed in our E-book). Philip Harringon, the main author of what was commonly called the “Green Book,” became the first chairman of the Chicago Transit Board. It should therefore be no surprise that the City of Chicago’s plans were carried over into the early days of the CTA.

Chicago Surface Lines believed in the superiority of the streetcar for use on the busiest routes. Following national trends, the Green Book plan of 1937 envisioned replacing about half of Chicago’s streetcars with buses. By the time CTA took over in 1947, this “busstitution” plan had increased to 75 or 80%.

In 1945, CTA was all in favor of ordering 800 modern streetcars– 600 to start, and 200 more within a few years. Along with the 83 Prewar PCCs and the 100 Peter Witt “Sedans,” this would have given CTA a fleet of nearly 1000 modern cars. The City of Chicago had been very much involved in determining the specifications for the new postwar cars, which were finalized in 1941.

Since CSL had a modernization fund available, the CTA had no difficulty persuading the bankruptcy courts, which were in control of CSL, to approve orders for new equipment. And even though CTA did not take official control until October 1, 1947, they were very much involved in deciding not only what was ordered, but where and when it would run once delivered. CTA felt it had been given a “mandate” by the State and the voters to make transit improvements as soon as possible.

If not for World War II, there might have been a slower and more orderly transition to rubber tired vehicles. But with wartime shortages, orders for new buses were put on hold for four years. War’s end coincided with the creation of the CTA, and there was a pent-up need for change. But the winds of change in local transit circles changed very quickly.

Even as the first of 600 Postwar PCC cars were delivered in 1946, you can sense a certain ambivalence in such things as Chicago Tribune editorials, as this example from November 20, 1946 shows:

The street car is dead. With the exception of a few long haul, heavy traffic routes, street cars, which came in before paved streets, are obsolete. They should be replaced by buses.

You can read the rest of this editorial in our post Chicago’s Postwar PCCs (June 9th).

A year later, Walter J. McCarter, new General Manager of the CTA, reported that CTA had tried to cancel the remainder of the PCC order, but had been unsuccessful. Chances are this action could not have been taken prior to October 1, 1947. Until then, CTA would have needed to work through the courts and the Surface Lines.

These issues, and many more, are covered in detail in our E-book, which can be read on any computer with Adobe Acrobat Reader installed.

We will continue to improve Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story as new information becomes available. We are committed to making this the best book possible and a real (albeit unofficial) companion piece to Bulletin 146, which is itself a must-have for any railfan who is seriously interested in Chicago streetcars.

-David Sadowski

*Bulletin 146 is available directly from CERA. Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

PS- We thank our readers for their continued support as The Trolley Dodger has reached another milestone, with more than 65,000 page views (from nearly 20,000 individuals) since our first post in January.

CTA 4282, a Pullman, passes the Congress expressway construction site on Halsted in 1952. In general, bridges were built first, and areas around them dug out afterwards. This section of highway opened in late 1955, by which time the streetcars had been replaced by buses.

CTA 4282, a Pullman, passes the Congress expressway construction site on Halsted in 1952. In general, bridges were built first, and areas around them dug out afterwards. This section of highway opened in late 1955, by which time the streetcars had been replaced by buses.

CTA Prewar PCC 4032 being shipped out from South Shops for scrapping. According to the list compiled by Andre Kristopans, the date is around August 13, 1956, about two months after streetcar service ended on route 49 Western.

CTA Prewar PCC 4032 being shipped out from South Shops for scrapping. According to the list compiled by Andre Kristopans, the date is around August 13, 1956, about two months after streetcar service ended on route 49 Western.

CTA 4346, built by Pullman-Standard, on route 36 Broadway-State.

CTA 4346, built by Pullman-Standard, on route 36 Broadway-State.

CTA 4406, a product of St. Louis Car Company, in charter service on Clark Street north of Cermak Road, October 21, 1956.

CTA 4406, a product of St. Louis Car Company, in charter service on Clark Street north of Cermak Road, October 21, 1956.

A two-car train of “flat door” 6000-series cars at the ground-level Oak Park Avenue station on the Garfield Park “L” in the 1950s. These used PCC technology and were built with all new parts, unlike the later curved door cars that were partly built with parts salvaged from PCC streetcars. The building at rear, located at approximately 814 Harrison Street, is still standing in Oak Park.

The approximate location of the last picture as it looks today. The Forest Park branch of the CTA Blue Line is in the foreground. The old Garfield Park alignment, at ground level, would be about where the truck is in this picture.

The approximate location of the last picture as it looks today. The Forest Park branch of the CTA Blue Line is in the foreground. The old Garfield Park alignment, at ground level, would be about where the truck is in this picture.

The building at 814 Harrison as it looks today.

The building at 814 Harrison as it looks today.

8 thoughts on “Chicago PCC Updates

  1. I have a CSL track map dated September 1939 (an obscure railfan’s birth month), and a CTA surface track and bus map dated December 1949. The 1939 map is pretty close to all CSL trackage. It even includes an isolated track on Jefferson between Van Buren and Harrison. The only thing missing is track on Lake Shore Drive used by Chicago Avenue cars to Navy Pier. I could make scans of these maps available. In the detail above, presumably from the CTA era, 115th Street is mis-identified as 116th. Of course, it’s considered heretical to point out the errors CTA makes, the most egregious being track on Garland Court in the wrong location. See page 338 of the third edition of the Lind book.

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    • If you want to download it via Dropbox, I can send you a link. On the other hand, if you would prefer an updated disc, I can send you an online invoice for $5 and you can pay that securely using a credit/debit card or PayPal.

      Thanks.

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