Bill Shapotkin writes: “This pic is on the Riverdale line. The location is JUST SOUTH of 130th St (the tracks on the embankment are the IC). View looks E-N/E.” George Trapp: “CSL #2595 is on Riverdale line, side sign reads Michigan-Indiana.” M. E. writes: “The first picture is on the Riverdale line, which ran south along the west side of the Illinois Central main line, then under the IC, then south to Riverdale.”
The car number looks like 2595, making this a “Robertson” car, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1901.
Robert Leffingwell writes: “(This) picture is most likely Indiana Ave between 130th and 134th where it ran on private right of way along side the IC tracks. (The tracks on 134th are still clearly visible to this day).”
Andre Kristopans: “2595 is on 34-Riverdale (sign would say Michigan-Indiana) along the IC between 127th and 134th.”
Thanks to the generosity of George Trapp, here is another generous helping of classic Chicago Surface Lines streetcar photos from his collection. (To see additional photos he has already shared with us, just type “George Trapp” into the search window at the top of this page. Several other posts should come up.)
Most of these pictures date to the “red car” era in Chicago, which began in the early 1920s and ended in 1954. Some are even older than that.
As always, if you can help identify locations, or have interesting facts or reminiscences to add, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. You can leave comments on this post, or write us directly at:
FYI there will be several additional posts in this series coming up in the near future, so watch this space.
PS- We’ve already received a lot of excellent comments on this post. I will incorporate them into the photo captions later this evening. We thank all our contributors.
M. E. writes:
More thoughts about CSL Photos part 3:
Using the map at http://chicagoinmaps.com/chicagostreetcars.html I make the assumption that the carbarn at 93rd and Drexel serviced all these east/west lines: 87th St., 93rd/95th St., 103rd St., 111th/115th St., 119th/Vincennes. All these lines likely used Cottage Grove to get to and from the carbarn.
Several of the pictures are of cars 3100 and 3113. The one captioned “CSL 3113, signed for 93rd and Drexel” seems to be in the carbarn at that location.
I think the one captioned “CSL 3100, signed for 103rd and Vincennes” was taken at 103rd and Michigan. The destination sign reads 103rd and Vincennes, so the view must be looking east from Michigan. Notice the man standing in front of the Buy Now sign.
This could be the same man who “has just taken a picture” in the photo captioned “CSL 3100, probably on the south side …” In the distance in this picture is the Illinois Central main line paralleling Cottage Grove Ave. The IC right-of-way was above ground at that point.
Next, the picture captioned “CSL 3100 again, possibly getting ready to change ends”. The destination sign reads 103rd and Vincennes, which is where this photo was taken, facing northeast.
Next, the picture captioned “CSL 3100, signed to go to 103rd and Vincennes”, was taken just east of the last one I mentioned.
Next, the picture captioned “CSL 3100 at the end of the 103rd Street line”, was taken from the same spot as the first one I cited.
All of these CSL 3100 shots at Vincennes must have been taken at the same time.
Finally, “CSL 3113. The sign at rear, advertising the Beverly Bakery” is at the same spot but a different car.
In this 1941 CSL map, which you can find in Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, you can see how the 103rd route ended east of Vincennes and the Rock Island (although there was a single track connection with Vincennes).
Unrelated, but interesting: In the map, on the 93rd St. line, west of Stony Island, notice that the track goes almost back to 95th St. This was a prime viewing site for streetcars and trains. There was a busy north/south railroad, and an east/west railroad, that crossed just north of 95th St. The streetcar line ran along the north side of the east/west railroad. The streetcar line crossed the north/south railroad at grade. I do not remember whether there were crossing gates over the streetcar tracks. If not, then each streetcar would have required a two-man crew so the conductor could act as lookout before the motorman crossed the railroad track.
CSL streetcar service on route 103, subject of several pictures in this post, was replaced by buses on October 13, 1941. Chances are theses photos were taken shortly before that early abandonment.
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A map of the area around 103rd and Vincennes, as it looked in the 1940s when these streetcar pictures were taken. Vincennes is the angle street that runs parallel to the Rock Island, which heads to the southwest.
CSL 3100 at 103rd and Vincennes, the west end of this line. Bill Shapotkin writes, “The pic below, looking N-N/W (and a few feet west of the above photo) is indeed a car at the west end of (revenue) trackage. (a single track, normally not used in revenue service, did x/o the ROCK and connected with trackage on Vincennes Ave). I have a contemporary photo of a CTA bus at this same location. The building on the north side of the street remains standing (at least as of six months ago).”
M. E. writes: “The last picture is likely at 103rd and Vincennes, on the east side of the Rock Island main line. I say this because it looks like the end of the line, where the streetcar tracks merge.”
103rd and Vincennes today. We are looking west.
CSL 2006 in storage, apparently having last been used on one of the light far south side lines.
CSL 3100, signed to go to 103rd and Vincennes. According to M. E., this picture was taken just east of 103rd and Michigan. Chuck Amstein: “103rd and Eberhart Ave., looking NE. The building just to the right of #3100 is still there, and matches the one in the background in misc831.”
103rd and Eberhart Avenue today. We are looking east.
CSL 3093 at Erie and Ashland, signed to go to Morgan and Pershing.
CSL 2910 heading west (signed for Austin, the city limits) in the 1940s. George Trapp: “CSL 2910 is on West Division line, Destination reads Division-Austin, this type of car a regular on this route.”
From our comments section: “CSL 2910 is signed DIVISION-AUSTIN. Short line operated on Division between Grand and Austin until it was through routed by bus to California until it was further through routed to downtown.” “CSL 2910 heading west (signed for Austin, the city limits) possibly Division / Austin … location is possibly on Division just east of Grand ave.”
Andre Kristopans: “2910 is most likely on West Division St, California to Austin, as it is a small one-man car.”
Mike Franklin: “CSL 2910 heading west and the two flats are located on the 5000 block of Division.”
The 5000 block on west Division street today.
Chicago City Railway 2503.
CSL 2910, signed for Pershing. (Edward Frank, Jr. photo)
CSL “Little” Pullman 810, built in 1910, on route 10. George Trapp: “CSL 810 is at Western-Howard.”
Andre Kristopans writes, “3236 looks like nb on Racine about to turn east into Armitage. Building to right is the Maud St wreck truck house, part of CUT’s North Shops complex, most of which was closed when West Shop opened in the teens.”
Racine and Armitage today. We are looking north.
CSL Birney 2901, also seen in another picture elsewhere in this post.
George Trapp: “CSL Trailer 8050 is also at Devon Depot, Note new track in foreground, car is sandwiched between a Big Pullman and a 169 class car.” The trailer was built in 1921.
CSL 3298 on, I believe, route 73. If so, we are most likely at about 600 West Armitage. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
Chicago Union Traction 4776, signed for Van Buren. I believe this may have been renumbered as CSL 1247 later on. The sign advertises a ferry across Lake Michigan to Grand Rapids for $1.50.
CSL trailer 8027, built by the Surface Lines in 1921 during a time when ridership was greatly increasing. Trailers were no longer needed in the 1930s due to the Depression, and while they were considered for use during World War II they ended up as storage sheds such as this one. According to George Trapp, this photo was taken at the Devon Depot.
Andre Kristopans: “As for the trailers, all were sheds by 1930 or so. Some were fixed up to go back into service about 1942, but never did, and these were the ones scrapped in 1944-45.”
CSL 3100 again, possibly getting ready to change ends. M. E. writes: “The destination sign reads 103rd and Vincennes, which is where this photo was taken, facing northeast.”
Chuck Amstein: ” 103rd near Vincennes, just east of the Rock Island tracks, looking ENE. The building with the “MEATS” sign is still there.”
103rd just east of Vincennes today. Note the same building as in the previous picture.
CSL 3100 on 103rd. Looks like the man at right has just taken a picture.
Chuck Amstein writes: ” 103rd St. just west of Vernon Ave., looking ENE. The 3-story apartment bldg. (approx. 10235 S. Vernon) and the building just to the right of #3100 in the distance, are still there.”
The three-flat at 10235 S. Vernon today.
CSL 3113, signed for 93rd and Drexel. M. E. writes: “The destination 93rd and Drexel (900 east) is a block east of Cottage Grove Ave. According to Wikipedia, “Burnside car barn at 93rd and Drexel is still basically intact.” So Cottage Grove cars and 93rd/95th cars could be signed for 93rd and Drexel. (It) seems to be in the carbarn at that location.”
CSL 3100, signed for 103rd and Vincennes. M. E. writes: “I think the one captioned “CSL 3100, signed for 103rd and Vincennes” was taken at 103rd and Michigan. The destination sign reads 103rd and Vincennes, so the view must be looking east from Michigan. Notice the man standing in front of the Buy Now sign.
This could be the same man who “has just taken a picture” (in another photo in this post). In the distance in this picture is the Illinois Central main line paralleling Cottage Grove Ave. The IC right-of-way was above ground at that point.”
Chuck Amstein writes: “103rd and Michigan, looking ESE. The house just to the right of #3100 is still there.”
While lightweight single-truck Birney cars were successful in many smaller cities and towns, such as Fort Collins, Colorado, they were not successful in Chicago. Here we see a rare shot of CSL 2901 at 71st and State in 1924.
An early Chicago City Railway streetcar at 75th Street and Manhattan Beach. According to the Encyclopedia of chicago History, “Located near Windsor Bathing Beach, Manhattan Beach (later Rainbow Beach) was a popular spot for middle-class boys and girls to meet in the early decades of the twentieth century. Some religious leaders and conservative politicians opposed this and other private beaches, claiming that they encouraged sexual promiscuity and the consumption of alcohol among minors. Rainbow Beach was also reclaimed by the city and operated as a municipal beach in the 1920s. “
CSL 2832 signed for a charter. From the autos, it would appear this picture was taken in the 1940s.
CTA 1722 at Western and Howard on May 22, 1948. The northernmost portion of route 49 was bussed on August 1, 1948. At the same time, streetcar service was cut back to 79th on the south end, via a new loop there.
George Trapp writes: “On Aug. 1, 1948 north terminal changed to Schreiber loop at Devon Depot also shared with Route 36 cars. Berwyn loop opened Dec. 12, 1948.”
CSL 1457 and 3193. The former car appears to be in work service. According to Don’s Rail Photos, it was “rebuilt as salt car AA68 in 1948.” George Trapp writes: “CSL #1457 and 3193 are in the South open yard of the Devon Depot, open area to left later used for additional storage tracks added in mid 1940’s for PCC’s which included an additional single track repair bay added to the south side of the existing building and a stand alone single track brick building along the south property line which housed an automatic car washer.”
Another reader: “Devon Station (Clark and Schreiber).”
Andre Kristopans: “1457 was a salt car in the 30″s. When the 36 PCC’s came, many 13-1400’s were made into salters. Some went back to passenger service during WW2, rest were r# AA’s either by CSL after the war or CTA in 1948. “
CSL 5659 at 95th, the south end of the #9 Ashland through-route. We previously posted some photos of this same location here:
George Foelschow: “According to Lind, this was a Crete single-end suburban car acquired from Chicago & Southern Traction Company. I would guess that the wide space denotes a smoking compartment in its first life.”
CSL 1531 on July 14, 1947. George Trapp writes: “CSL 1531 is at North end of Taylor-Sedgewick-Sheffield line at Sheffield and Clark a month before conversion to bus.” Another reader writes: “Sheffield at Clark (looks the same today, no transit service on Sheffield anymore), was the Taylor-Sedgwick-Sheffield car line.” (Gordon Lloyd Photo)
CSL 2721 signed for Cicero Avenue. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
CSL 3113. M. E. writes: “As for Beverly Bakery: On 103rd, south side, just west of Vincennes was a bus barn, then the Beverly Bank. So it’s logical to assume that Beverly stretched east of Vincennes, at least as far as the bakery. However, the Rock Island commuter station at 103rd and Vincennes is called Washington Heights.”
Chuck Amstein: “103rd and just west of Elizabeth St., looking ENE. The 2 buildings just left of #3113 are still there. They can also be seen in the background in misc832. The track layout agrees with the CSL 1941 track map, conveniently included in “Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story”.”
103rd Street just west of Elizabeth, looking east, as it appears today. Note that the two buildings match the previous photo.
CSL 2859 northbound on the Broadway-State route, preparing to cross the Chicago River. George Trapp: “CSL Car #2859, this car was the only modern steel car owned by the Calumet & South Chicago, it was a four motored two man car with a body constructed like an MU car with same trucks as 169 Class. Northbound on Broadway-State before old State Street bridge taken out of service during 1939.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)