CTA 7100, as repainted. George Trapp notes, 7100 “may be (the) first painted in the ugly Everglade Green and Cream.” If so, this picture was probably taken in 1951. CTA chose a darker color green for repainting, since they were having difficulty matching the lighter Mercury Green paint, which had a tendency to fade over time. There were some variations in the roof treatment on some cars, and you can see examples of that in CERA Bulletin 146. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)
Today we offer a third installment of pictures from the collections of George Trapp. You can find Part One of the Chicago PCC series here, and we also posted many photos of historic Chicago buses here.
Thanks to Mr. Trapp’s generosity, we now have close to another 150 additional images of Chicago PCC streetcars. 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, 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.
This time out, a few of the pictures are in color, and we have done some restoration work on them. When older color prints have faded or have developed a color cast, sometimes we can correct for this using today’s computer technology.
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.
Chicago’s postwar PCCs were built by Pullman-Standard (310 cars) and the St. Louis Car Company (290 cars). You can readily tell which ones are which, since the Pullmans are more squarish in appearance, especially the windows, and the St. Louies have more curved lines.
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:
Thanks to the generosity of George Trapp, all of the photos in today’s post are being added to our E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story.
CSL 7100 when newly delivered. (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 7108, southbound on route 22. (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 7108 at 81st and Halsted on August 15, 1947. (James J. Buckley Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
Glare on the front of the car makes the number more difficult to see, but it’s 4054 at 81st and Halsted. Since the cars are all signed for CSL, this photo probably dates to 1947.
CTA 4052 southbound on Western just north of North Avenue (see the 1607 address at right), making that the old Humboldt Park “L” at the rear. (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 4060, probably in 1947. (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
PCC 4061, a St. Louis product, southbound on Halsted. (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 4061 southbound on route 22, probably in 1947. (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
A builder’s photo of Pullman PCC 4172’s interior.
A builder’s photo of Pullman PCC 4172 as new.
Another builder’s photo of Pullman PCC 4172’s interior.
A builder’s photo of Pullman PCC 4172 as new.
An early color photo of CSL 4179.
The boxiness of the Pullmans, compared to the St. Louis version, is clearly evident in this side view of CSL 4179.
4306 up in the air at the Pullman plant.
4346 is southbound on Clark at Lunt in this 1948 view. A banner on the front of the car heralds “Another New CTA Streetcar.” This one was delivered on December 29, 1947. (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
This Pullman PCC is northbound on route 36 Broadway-State. Andre Kristopans adds, “on State, between Pershing and 40th. The building is the old cable powerhouse and carbarn. Note in background the two-level bridge. Bottom is CR&I from the IC to Stock Yards, top is the Stock Yards L.” (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
State between Pershing and 40th as it appears today. The building at left is the Dawson Technical Institute, part of the City Colleges of Chicago. It was established in 1968.
Remnants of the the two-level bridge Andre refers to. The lower level took the Chicago & Rock Island from the Illinois Central to the Stock Yards, on top was the old Stock Yards “L”, which closed in 1957.
Is 4233 coming or going? I guess a case could be made either way. The car doesn’t seem to have any dents, and there isn’t a logo. Yet it’s not shiny, either, although that could simply be due to the weather. That decides it- this car was scrapped on 8/20/53 and delivered on 3/6/48, so this must be its arrival. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Pullman PCC 4259 is turning from diversion trackage on Chicago Avenue onto southbound Halsted on July 30, 1952. This would be due to the bridge carrying Halsted over the Chicago River being out of service. The landmark Montgomery Wards complex is at rear. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
PCC 4232 is northbound on Clark at Armitage (on route 22) in this June 1948 view. Note the lack of either a CSL or CTA logo on the side of this car. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)
It’s May 1951, and CTA 4248, newly repainted in Everglade Green and Cream, is at 119th and Morgan on the south end of route 36 – Broadway-State. There is an ad for Gibson refrigerators on the side of the car– not the same company that makes guitars. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)
The interior of a PCC on the St. Louis Car Company assembly line. Car 7227 is ahead, which means this is probably either 7226 or 7228. All were delivered to CTA on March 29, 1948.
This picture of CTA 7129 has the appearance of a posed shot. The woman at right is apparently a “Bobby Soxer.” According to the wikipedia, “A bobby sock is a type of sock that was especially fashionable in the 1940s and 1950s. Bobby socks had thick uppers that were turned down to form a thick cuff at ankle height. They were sometimes worn by girls as part of a school uniform. They were popular to wear with saddle shoes, loafers, or Oxfords.” My mother was a Bobby Soxer. 7129, delivered on January 20, 1948, is labelled as “Another New CTA Streetcar.” (Krambles-Peterson Archive)
St. Louis-built 7155 is on Ravenswood Avenue with the Chicago & North Western embankment in the background. The side sign advertises AM radio station WGN, which still offers news and sports, but very little music nowadays. (CTA Photo)
CTA 7142, “Another New CTA streetcar,” is southbound at Wentworth and 24th. (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
7178 and 7199 at Devon Station (car barn) circa 1954. George Trapp says you can tell this is Devon since they had wooden beams near the front, not steel. (Charlie Preston Photo)
PCC 7179 in front of red car 5096. From the destination sign you would think we are southbound on Western Avenue. Not sure what route the older car is on. Don’s Rail Photos says, “5001 thru 5200 were built by Brill in 1905, #14318, for the Chicago City Ry. where they carried the same numbers. They were rebuilt in 1908 to bring them up to the standard of the later cars.” George Trapp adds, “car 5096 could be on way from Archer car barn to 77th shops for scrapping as these cars were taken out of service in 1948 after Archer was converted to bus. Car 7179 may be in service on Western before official date of PCC service on Western as photo looks to be in Summer of 1948, 7179 has no logo.” Andre Kristopans writes, “I would bet at Western and 71st SB. The 5000 would have been on 67th-69th going to 71st & California. It looks like they are changing crews as the conductor is walking towards the car.” On the other hand, George Trapp says, ” Andris Kristopans mentions that he thinks it was taken near 71st St. because 5096 was on the 67th-69th-71st Route. I don’t believe this to be the case as that route used one man MU cars. Also, if you enlarge the photo, car 5096 is missing its side route sign box, there’s no glass in the upper sash window opening, the front destination sign seems to be missing as well. Perhaps the conductor of car 7179 just finished throwing the switch so it could go into the 79th loop and had to wait for it to pass so he could throw it back to the straight route for 5096 to continue south to 79th Street to go East. Car 7179 looks very pristine and is missing a CTA logo so this has to be right around the Aug. 1st official debut of PCC’s on Western or possibly earlier. The run number indicates a car from Devon Depot.” (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
This photo of PCC 7195 was probably taken by the CTA and the car is heading south on Clark Street opposite Lincoln Park. The ad is for TV station WBKB, which was originally called W9XBK and was Chicago’s first television station starting in 1940. The B and K in WBKB stood for the owners, the Balaban and Katz chain of movie palaces. It was eventually a CBS affiliate on channel 4 and became WBBM-TV channel 2 when the FCC reassigned frequencies. There was a second WBKB then on channel 7, now WLS-TV, and there is yet a third WBKB nowadays in Alpena, Michigan, a CBS affiliate that airs on channel 11.
I believe this iconic picture of CTA 7213, leaving Clark and Kinzie on the last Chicago streetcar run in the early morning hours of June 21, 1958, is a CTA photo.
CTA 7218 is heading north on shoofly trackage at Hasted and Congress circa 1952, while the bridge that would take Halsted over the Congress (later Eisenhower) expressway was being built. There was a photo taken near this location, facing west, in our first post of PCC photos from the Trapp Collection. (Originally from the collections of Joe L. Diaz)
CTA 7254, southbound on Clark and Wacker on April 6, 1950, having just crossed over the Chicago River. (Traction Chicago Photo)
George Trapp writes, “7244 is westbound on Devon at Ravenswood, (the) car is getting ready to turn north on Ravenswood , then will turn East on Schreiber and lay over just west of Clark before making it’s run to 119th-Morgan.” Jeff Wien adds, “Car 7244 is a Broadway-State car on Devon at Ravenswood heading west. The conductor was throwing the switch so that the car would head north on Ravenswood to Schreiber. With the 36 119-Morgan destination sign, I would gather that the car was going to make a run to the south end of the line.” (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
PCC 4390, “Another New CTA Streetcar,” is heading eastbound on Roosevelt between Paulina and Ashland in 1948. Route 9 – Ashland cars ran on Paulina between Lake and Roosevelt, since streetcars were not allowed on boulevards, but Ashland never had PCCs and this car is not in service. In the background at left we see the marquee of the Broadway Strand Theatre. According to http://www.cinematreasures.org, “The Broadway Strand Theatre opened on November 10, 1917 on Roosevelt Road (then still called 12th Street) at Ashland Avenue on the Near West Side (close to what is today the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center). In its prime, this theatre had a 2/8 Kimball theater organ. The Broadway Strand Theatre was demolished in 1998 after a long period of disuse.” A Chicago Motor Coach bus is at right, and a route 12 – Roosevelt Road red car behind the PCC. (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
PCC 7267, “Another New CTA Streetcar,” stopped at a safety island southbound on route 49 – Western. (Ed Frank, Jr. Photo)
CTA 4402 at the Western and 79th terminal, ready to head back north. (Traction Chicago Photo)
The curved lines of St. Louis-built PCC 4404 are evident in this view. The car is signed for Western and Devon on route 49, meaning we are heading northbound. Likely, this picture was taken prior to the opening of the CTA loop at Western and Berwyn on August 1, 1948. George Trapp adds that this photo was probably taken “between Aug. 10th, 1948 when the car was delivered and Dec. 12th, 1948 when Berwyn became the official North terminal. Before Dec. 12th, 1948 the Schreiber Loop at the Devon Depot was the North terminal when PCC’s were put on Western and the route was cut back from Howard on the North and 111th on the South.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
It would appear that CTA L-201 is taking PCC 7142 off to be scrapped in this scene from 77th and Vincennes. The scrap date for 7142 was May 23, 1958, which is probably about when this picture was taken. (J. Schmidt Photo)
CTA 4384 is apparently southbound on Western in the mid-1950s. and signed to go only as far as 69th, making this a pull-in.
A PCC passes the historic Pui Tak Center Building in Chinatown while heading south on route 22. The building is at 2216 South Wentworth Avenue, just south of Cermak Road. The car at left is a 1957 Buick. There is a similar (better, actually) picture taken at this location by Charles L. Tauscher on page 211 of CERA Bulletin 146.
An undated view of PCC 4391 at the Illinois Railway Museum, probably in the 1980s.
An undated view of PCC 4391 at the Illinois Railway Museum, probably in the 1980s.
CTA 4248 is heading north on Halsted at Root on the south side in this July 21, 1952 view. The occasion was the Democratic Convention, held at the nearby International Amphitheatre, which took place from July 21 to the 26th. The Republican Convention was held there as well between July 7th and the 11th. The Dems nominated Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson for president, and the GOP General Dwight D. Eisenhower. (Thomas H. Desnoyers Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)