CTA 4061, a product of St. Louis Car Company, heads southbound on route 8 – Halsted near Congress. A shoofly is under construction to divert streetcars around the site where a bridge will soon be built for the Congress expressway. The old Garfield Park “L” at rear remained in service until the new Congress median rapid transit line opened in June 1958. In this area, the “L” ran just north of the highway. Other photos taken in this area show the shoofly in use during 1952. Car 4062, the next in sequence, was built by Pullman and was the first postwar PCC delivered to Chicago Surface Lines. Despite being numbered lower, 4061 was delivered 10 months later. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
I like to think of this web site as a collaborative effort with our readers. Since we started this enterprise at the beginning of this year, I believe I have learned as much from you as vice versa, and today’s post is but the latest example of how that can work to everyone’s benefit. If people are willing to share their material with us, and this seems to be happening with increasing frequency, it is probably because our previous 80 posts have shown that we are serious about the original research we are engaged in, and sharing it with you.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of George Trapp, we now have close to another 150 images of Chicago PCC streetcars that we can post. Nearly all of these are previously unknown to me. Mr. Trapp has been collecting these type of pictures for nearly the last 50 years, and has let us borrow some of them so that we might feature them here and add them to our electronic book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, which is available through our Online Store.
Mr. Trapps’ photos are an embarrassment of riches. Since there are too many to post all at once, check this space in coming days from further installments in this series.
Of course, the deluxe hardcover book Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era 1936-1958, published in June by Central Electric Railfans’ Association, is the premier volume covering the rise and fall of the modern streetcar in the Windy City. That book contains hundreds of great color photos and is a must-have for anyone who is interested in the subject, or even anyone who is interested in knowing what Chicago’s disparate neighborhoods looked like in a bygone era. While I am proud to be a co-author of that work, B-146 is available directly from the publisher. I would be remiss if I did not mention that Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with CERA.
In my humble opinion, B-146 is a fantastic bargain and a great value for the money, and I urge you to get a copy if you have not already done so.
My more recent E-book, available on a data disc in PDF format, is intended as a very unofficial supplement and companion to that noble work. One advantage that an electronic book has over a printed one is that more information can be added to it as things become available. We have already added numerous photos, maps, etc. to it, and the material from the Trapp Collection is a tremendous addition, which we are very grateful to have.
On top of that, we are adding another section of photographs to the book covering Chicago’s rapid transit system as it appeared early in the CTA era. That will give the reader a very clear idea of how badly the system was in need of improvement and modernization, a factor in the process by which CTA ultimately decided to eliminate streetcars.
With the E-book, we are not attempting to duplicate anything covered in B-146, which mainly showcases color photography. But there are still lots of great black-and-white photos that deserve to be seen, and lots of other information which could not be included even in a 448-page book. Chicago once had the largest streetcar system in the world, and chances are it will be a long time, if ever, before anyone has the “last word” about it.
If you have already purchased our E-book, and wish to get an updated copy with the additional information, this can be done at little or no cost to you. We always intended that it would be improved over time and offer an upgrade service to our purchasers on an ongoing basis.
As always, clicking on each photo with your mouse should bring up a larger version of the picture in your browser. You may be able to magnify this if you then see a “+” on your screen.
This being our 81st post, perhaps it is fitting that several of the pictures here were taken at 81st and Halsted.
Finally, if you have any interesting tidbits of information to share about the photos you see here, don’t hesitate to let us know, either by making a comment on this post, or by dropping us a line to:
PS- I did some checking on the Railway Negative Exchange, the source for many of the photos in today’s post. It was started by Warren Miller (1923-1989) who operated out of California. Upon Mr. Miller’s passing, his collection went to his nephew, Bob Hall, who I understand was still continuing these efforts as of 1996. I do not know whether they are still in business today.
All the photos from today’s post, and many more courtesy of Mr. George Trapp, are being added to our E-book this week, along with a section covering Chicago’s rapid transit system early in the CTA era.
7213 and 7274 are side-by-side in this scene from 81st and Halsted. As the south end of the busy Clark-Wentworth route, it was a favorite place for railfan photographers (and also close to the south terminus of route 8 – Halsted’s PCC at 79th). Due to the advertising signs on the PCCs, this photo is from 1950 or later. 7213 was the last streetcar to run in Chicago in 1958. Jon Habermaas adds, “The cars at 81st and Halsted were turned by wye-ing using a portion of abandoned track of the former Halsted line to 111th.” (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
The interior of prewar PCC 4051, as it appeared in July 1939, at the Madison and Austin loop. Circa 1940-41, CSL modified the doors on this car as part of their work on the development of the postwar cars. With the revised configuration, 4051 was tested extensively on route 56 – Milwaukee, which did not otherwise use PCCs. (S. Walker Photo)
CTA 4400 at Ashland and 71st. This picture was probably taken in the Fall of 1952. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
CTA 7122, signed for route 49 – Western, at Ashland and 71st. The election ad on the side of the car and the lack of leaves on the trees would date this picture to the Fall of 1952. Sherwood Dixon (1896-1973) was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor that year, losing to State Treasurer William G. Stratton, who served two terms. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
PCC 7132 going south on route 36 – Broadway-State, having just passed the Santa Fe Freight Office. Just to the left of the streetcar, you can see an entrance to the State Street subway, which opened in 1943. That looks like a Continental Air Transport bus behind the PCC. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
CTA PCC 7262 at the Western and 79th loop when it was brand new. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
PCC 7116 is laying over at 119th and Morgan before heading north on route 36 – Broadway-State. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
PCC 7228, signed for route 36 Broadway-State, crosses the Chicago River towards the Loop. This car was delivered March 29, 1948, and scrapped March 1, 1957, a service life of about 9 years. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
CTA 7116, built by St. Louis, at the Museum Loop. The Field Museum of Natural History would be off to the left, as is Lake Shore Drive. At rear, we can see the old Chicago Park District headquarters and Soldier Field. This loop was built to bring large numbers of visitors to A Century of Progress in 1933, Chicago’s second World’s Fair. The Illinois Central suburban electric tracks are at right. The streamlined moderne Park District building was built as the headquarters of the World’s Fair administration. Unfortunately it was demolished as part of the project to renovate Soldier Field. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
PCC 4057 is laying over at Cottage Grove and 115th before heading north on route 4. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
St. Louis-built PCC 4056. At irst I thought this was 81st and Halsted, but as Mike Engelberg points out, “Notice there is only a single track on this street. Therefore it is not at 81st and Halsted. Methinks this is on Emerald south of 79th, particularly because the roll sign is for Halsted route 8, not Clark-Wentworth route 22. Also compare the two-story building here versus the two-story building in photos of 81st and Halsted. They are not the same.”
That appears to be a 1949 Ford at right, but this picture was taken later, due to the presence of advertising frames on the side of the streetcar. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
St. Louis-built PCC 4056, signed for route 4 – Cottage Grove, has just crossed the Chicago River. While the iconic Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower are at rear, the Sun-Times building (1958) had not yet been built when this picture was taken. Note a Chicago Motor Coach bus at rear. CTA purchased Motor Coach’s assets as of October 1, 1952, probably not too long after this picture was taken. In the 1950s, some Cottage Grove cars (usually signed as Route 38) went north of the river and terminated at Grand and Navy Pier. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
PCC service on Cottage Grove was mainly provided by prewar PCCs in the early 1950s, but here is postwar car 7044, which has been converted to one-man. (And we do mean “man,” since CTA did not hire any female operators until 1974.) Here, we are at Cottage Grove and 115th, the south end of the Cottage Grove line on route 4. The car is using route 38 as a sign although PCCs never ran there. The reason is the northern terminus of route 4 was changed, and this roll sign had the correct end point. 7044 was delivered on April 29, 1947 and was scrapped on January 16, 1957, a service life just short of 10 years. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
St. Louis PCC 4054 at 81st and Halsted. It was delivered on July 17, 1947 and scrapped on January 10, 1957, a service life of less than 10 years. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
PCC 4227, at Clark and Howard, prepares to head south on route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. The building on the left is still there. You would hardly recognize this location, which has been converted to an outdoor cafe. When this turnback loop was constructed, the surface and rapid transit systems competed against each other and there was little effort to coordinate them. After CTA was created, buses were diverted to bring passengers directly to the Howard “L” terminal, some distance behind the scene of this photo. Car 4227, a Pullman product, was delivered on March 7, 1948, and scrapped on August 15, 1953, a service live of less than 5 1/2 years. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
A current view of the location of the previous picture. Streetcars once ran right between these two buildings. Interestingly, the address on the building at right has been changed from 7547 to 7545. Jeff Wien writes, “The building identified now as 7545 is not the same structure that was there in streetcar days. The original building was torn down and replaced with a new brick building which looks similar as a part of the redevelopment of the Clark/Howard Mall about 15 to 20 years ago. How the address of the two commercial spaces located at almost the same spot could change by two digits is something that only the County Assessor would be able to explain.”
CTA 7207 at Schreiber and Clark. Half the car barn lacked a roof due to a fire in the early 1920s. This photo probably dates to circa 1955-56 due to the presence of a prewar car at rear, which would have been used on route 49 – Western. 7207 had a scrap date of July 30, 1958, meaning it lasted until the end of Chicago streetcar service on June 21st of that year. The “Enter at Rear” sign means this car was still being used as two-man, with a conductor. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
CSL 7047, delivered on May 3, 1947, at 81st and Halsted, site of many railfan photos back in the day. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
CSL 4010, in 1945-46 experimental paint, heads east at 5322 West Madison. The Surface Lines tried out various color schemes before deciding on the iconic combination of Mercury Green, Croydon Cream, and Swamp Holly Orange for the postwar cars. Interestingly, none of the six cars that were repainted had the exact color scheme that was ultimately selected. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
Prewar PCC 7027, in “tiger stripes,” heads east at 5054 West Madison. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
The experimental pre-PCC car 7001, built by Brill in 1934, spent its final years as a shed at 77th and Vincennes before being scrapped in 1959. It was briefly considered for purchase by the fledgling Illinois Electric Railway Museum, but was passed up because its windows were considered to be at the wrong height for its intended use as a hot dog stand. Ideas about historic preservation were different back then. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
Prewar PCC 4050, in experimental colors, heads east about a block from the turnaround loop at Madison and Austin on route 20. This photo was taken circa 1945-46 and you can just barely make out a Chicago & West Towns streetcar further back. Austin Boulevard is the boundary between Chicago and Oak Park. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)
CSL 4080 heads southbound on the route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. According to Jeff Wien, this is “Vincennes Avenue near 76th.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Pullman-built PCC 4205, without a logo on the side, does have a sign at front heralding “Another New CTA Streetcar.” It was delivered on on February 18, 1948 and is shown here at 81st and Halsted, the south end of route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Brand new PCC 4315, which already appears to have been sideswiped by something, does not have a CTA logo on the side in this view taken at the loop at State and 84th. But it does have a banner across the front advertising “Another New CTA Streetcar.” This car was delivered in December 5, 1947, just two months after the CTA takeover. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Experimental 1934 pre-PCC car 4001, built by Pullman. This is similar to a photo on page 5 of CERA Bulletin 146, although it is a different photo. They may have been taken at the same time, however, and if so, the date would be July 1936. The location is 78th and Vincennes. It’s definitely early, since the trolley is still painted like a barber pole.
Some PCCs are visible at rear in this view of the barn at 77th and Vincennes. But the foreground shows both Twin Coach buses and trolley coaches. George Trapp says, “The trolley buses in the photo with the new Twin Coach gas buses are St. Louis Car products, also new in early spring of 1948 and mainly used on 78 Montrose line.” Jeff Wien adds that they were also used on route 80 – Irving Park.
PCC 4396 southbound at Clark and Devon. The election poster would indicate a date of 1955 for this picture, since, as Jeff Wien notes, this car has already been repainted in Everglade Green, which the CTA started doing around July 1952. (Railway Negative Exchange Photo)