The “New Look” in Chicago Transit


The “New Look” in Chicago Transit: 1938-1973
Edited by David Sadowski

Over a period of 35 years, between 1938 and 1973, Chicago’s transit system was radically transformed, for better or for worse.

This transformation included the creation of the Chicago Transit Authority in 1945 by act of the state legislature. CTA represented public ownership and unification of Chicago’s mass transit system. The Chicago Rapid Transit Company, Chicago Surface Lines, and (later) Chicago Motor Coach Company were all merged.

The venerable Loop “L” was supplemented by two new subways, under State and Dearborn streets. Several “L” lines and dozens of stations were abandoned. New rapid transit lines were built in three different expressways.

Streetcars and trolley buses were eliminated, as were many grade crossings. Two of Chicago’s three major interurbans expired.

High-speed rapid transit cars were developed by the Chicago Transit Authority, and put into use on the new Skokie Swift service and, eventually, throughout the system. Air conditioning became standard on rapid transit cars.

By the early 1960s, the CTA began calling it a “New Look” in transit.

Now, to examine this transformation, we have collected many original CTA source documents from this revolution together in one place, as our third DVD data disc release, The “New Look” in Chicago Transit: 1938-1973, edited by David Sadowski.

Since our previous release Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story covered surface system changes, this new collection’s primary focus is rapid transit. Naturally, there is some overlap between the two E-books, but The “New Look” includes over 1000 pages of new material, including:

An introductory essay by transit historian David Sadowski, which puts the era into perspective

Special commemorative publications put out by the City of Chicago in 1943 and 1951, when the State Street and Dearborn subways opened

43 entire issues of CTA Transit News, an employee publication, primarily covering the important transition period from 1958 through 1961

High-resolution scans of the 1958 and 1961 CTA Annual Reports (all reports from 1945-76 are also included in lower-res scans)

Rapid transit system track maps

A short book, The Story of the Chicago Rapid Transit Lines (circa 1938)

Numerous CTA pamphlets, covering A/B “skip stop” service, Rider’s Reader, opening of the Congress rapid transit line, “New Look” (aka “Fishbowl”) buses, bus overhaul shops, and the elevation of the outer end of the Lake Street “L”.

In addition, we have included a variety of CTA technical publications, including the operation of various old interlockings, signal systems, and troubleshooting manuals for the 4000-series rapid transit cars.

# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.95

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5 thoughts on “The “New Look” in Chicago Transit

    • We’re putting the ones we can find onto this new E-book. There are a few more recent ones you can read online via, and these are scans that libraries have made from copies in their collections. As far as I know, there is no one place where you can find them all online.

      • When I think back to when I used to ride the Ravenswood L several times a week between 1956 and 1969 and all the Transit News and other free publications I could have collected and kept, I just cringe. I also had access to old movie posters when my parents worked at the Music Box Theatre at 3733 n. Southport. The theatres were supposed to destroy movie posters and lobby cards after the movies had run, so now those posters that are still around are sought-after collectables! When I worked at the Oak Theatre at Armitage and Western in 1971-72, I got autographed pictures of Tempest Storm ( a famous dancer who is still alive) for the guys in my class at DeVry and forgot to keep one for myself! Maybe some of my Super-8 silent movies from 1967-1977 of Chicagoland electric railroads and CTA may be worth something someday, if I can get them converted to Digital Media. My Bell & Howell Super-8 silent movie camera is worth about $10 on eBay!

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