The date is October 21, 1956, and the occasion is a weekend fantrip using red Pullman 225 and postwar PCC 4406. We have posted other photos from this fantrip before. By this time, Chicago only had two streetcar lines left, and they only operated on weekdays. Car 225 is one of three Pullmans that were saved, and it is now at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine.
Bob Lalich adds, “The photo of red Pullman 225 on a fan trip was taken at 18th and Clark. The car is SB.” The church was called Old St. John’s, and was demolished around 1962.
The same location today. The large shadow is from an “L” extension that did not exist when the previous picture was taken. It was built in 1969 for the Dan Ryan line and is now used by the Orange Line.
Here is another generous helping of classic Chicago streetcar photos. They date to the latter part of the CSL era as well as the early days of its successor, the Chicago Transit Authority. (We also have a trolley bus photo.)
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 additional posts in this series coming up in the near future, so watch this space. To see previous posts, use the search window on this page.
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New From Trolley Dodger Press:
American Streetcar R.P.O.s: 1893-1929
Mainline Railway Post Offices were in use in the United States from 1862 to 1978 (with the final year being operated by boat instead of on rails), but for a much briefer era, cable cars and streetcars were also used for mail handling in the following 15 cities*:
New Bedford, Massachusetts
New York City
Rochester, New York
*As noted by some of our readers, this list does not include interurban RPOs.
Our latest E-book American Streetcar R.P.O.s collects 12 books on this subject (over 1000 pages in all) onto a DVD data disc that can be read on any computer using Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is free software. All have been out of print for decades and are hard to find. In addition, there is an introductory essay by David Sadowski.
The rolling stock, routes, operations, and cancellation markings of the various American street railway post office systems are covered in detail. The era of the streetcar R.P.O. was relatively brief, covering 1893 to 1929, but it represented an improvement in mail handling over what came before, and it moved a lot of mail. In many places, it was possible to deposit a letter into a mail slot on a streetcar or cable car and have it delivered across town within a short number of hours.
These operations present a very interesting history, but are not well-known to railfans. We feel they deserve greater scrutiny, and therefore we are donating $1 from each sale of this item to the Mobile Post Office Society, in support of their efforts.
# of Discs – 1
CTA 9193 is on what is billed as “Chicago’s first trackless trolley special,” March 2, 1958. Andre Kristopans: “Trolleybus 9193 is on Kedzie just north of the Sanitary & Ship Canal (about 33rd). Bridge is IC Iowa Division, background bridge is Chicago & Illinois Western. Clue was the big tank to the right. 1938 aerial photo shows this tank. Note how little traffic there is on Sunday!” The occasion was the very first Omnibus Society of America fantrip, which used a prewar trolley bus on south side areas where they had not been used in service.
The same location today, approximately 3374 S. Kedzie. There is an incline at this point leading up a bridge, behind the photographer, going over the Sanitary & Ship Canal.
CTA 5426 is on route 8 at Halsted and Lake, having just passed the “L”. The National Cash Register Company was located at 178 N. Halsted, just south of the “L”, so we are looking north.
The same scene today is almost unrecognizable. National Cash Register’s former location is now a parking lot. The “L” station at Halsted was closed in 1994, during the Green Line rebuild, and demolished in 1996. It was replaced, more or less, by the Morgan station two blocks west, which opened in 2012. Chicago’s downtown is moving west and this area is undergoing rapid change.
Chicago and Calumet District Transit Company car 59, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1901. Joint service to Hammond, Whiting, and East Chicago, Indiana was operated with the Chicago Surface Lines until June 9, 1940.
CTA Sedan 3337 is southbound on Wabash for route 4 – Cottage Grove in the early 1950s.
CTA 1771 says it is on route 60 – Blue Island in this early 1950s photo. But, as Andre Kristopans notes, “Look carefully – this is on Lake near Austin! Destination sign reads “Lake-Austin”, route # sign is set wrong!” (Walter Hulseweder Photo)
The same location today. This is around 5994 W. Lake.
CTA 5304 is eastbound on the private right-of-way at the west end of route 63, followed by prewar PCC 4002. Note how 5304 is using the front trolley pole, reversed. (R. J. Anderson Photo)
The same location today. This is about 5938 W. 63rd Place. As you can see, the middle building, once a storefront, has been converted to residential. That explains why it goes all the way out to the sidewalk. The bungalow at right looks much as it did, while the building at left has had its top redone at some point, due to deterioration of the brick, as you can see on the side of the building.
CTA 928 is on route 47 in this September 2, 1949 view. Andre Kristopans: “at end of line at 47th and Kedzie.”
47th and Kedzie today. One building is still there, but the top has been redone.
CTA salt spreader AA105, formerly car 2854, at 69th and Ashland. This car was scrapped on February 17, 1954. (C. Edward Hedstrom Collection)
In this September 12, 1951 view, CTA 982 is heading south at about 400 N. Wabash, approaching the bridge over the Chicago River. The Silver Frolics nightclub at rear, said to be run by The Outfit, closed in the early 1960s and became the second location of the famous Chez Paree. (C. Edward Hedstrom, Jr. Photo) Jim writes: ‘This is a route #38 Indiana car from Navy Pier to 51st Street its south terminal. It is not a 51st St car.
#28 Stony Island cars also went to the Pier at times. After Indiana & Stony went Bus, Cottage (for awhile) was extended to Grand & Wabash to State, but not to the Pier.
Cottage used the #38 Short turn front roll sign for Wabash-Grand & PCC cars were used.”
There is a modern parking garage on the site of the old Silver Frolics on Wabash today.
CTA 6180 is at 43rd and Oakenwald on August 8, 1953, the last day of streetcar service on the 43rd-Root Street line. Note the Illinois Central station at rear. (C. Edward Hedstrom Photo)
43rd and Oakenwald today.
CTA 5508 at 79th and Western on May 29, 1949. That looks like a 1948-50 Packard at left, which some have nicknamed the “pregnant elephant” styling. We can catch a glimpse of the nearby CTA turnback loop for route 49 – Western at right. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 6236 at 71st and California on the 67-69-71 route on May 29, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 3266 at 71st and California on the 67-69-71 route on May 29, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA work car R202 at 93rd and Drexel on December 30, 1947. (J. William Vigrass Photo) Andre Kristopans: “R202 is a sand car. It was used to deliver sand to the sand boxes that were located at most terminals and other places where streetcars might encounter slippery conditions. Remember, in the 1950’s streets were not salted, and all that was plowed was basically the car tracks, using mostly sweepers.”
CSL 2802 is on Anthony Avenue at Commercial Avenue in this July 13, 1941 photo. Note the Pennsylvania Railroad station at rear. (John F. Bromley Collection) Bob Laich: “The building immediately behind CSL 2802 on Anthony Avenue was PRR’s South Chicago freight station, which was built at street level. The platform for the South Chicago passenger station can be seen on the elevation in the right background.” Andre Kristopans adds, “something odd here – note “Special” sign in front window. Appears to be a charter waiting for its party off the PRR.” This must be Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip #35, which used this car on that date.
CSL 3212 heads up the line-up at Archer Station (car house) on October 16, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 3217 is on route 73 – Armitage on July 1, 1946. (John F. Bromley Collection) Andre Kristopans: “EB passing Mozart Park at Armitage and Avers.”
CSL 5814 (route 4 – Cottage Grove) is southbound on Wabash at Roosevelt Road on June 13, 1947. At rear, you can see where the Roosevelt Road streetcar line was extended to the Museum Loop for the 1933-34 world’s fair (A Century of Progress). (J. William Vigrass Photo)
Wabash and Roosevelt Road today. Since the previous picture was taken, Roosevelt was extended east, in roughly the same location as the old CSL viaduct over the Illinois Central.
CTA 6034 is at Kedzie and Bryn Mawr, the north end of route 17, on April 16, 1949. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CTA 5802 in August 1948 at one of the Stations (car houses) serving the Cottage Grove line. As you can see, at one time CSL (and CTA) were very much interested in landscaping and beautification. (Carl Hehl Photo) Bob Lalich: “CTA 5802 in August 1948 was taken at the Burnside car barn. The IC tracks can be seen in the background. There was an article about the Burnside car barn gardens in First & Fastest a couple of years ago.” Andre Kristopans adds, “definitely the back yard at Burnside.”
CSL 1933 at Chicago Avenue and Lake Shore Drive on May 12, 1947. (John F. Bromley Collection)
CSL 287 on route 52, Kedzie-California. (John Buff Photo) Andre Kristopans: “287 looks like Kedzie at Marquette. Note trolley wire tensioners behind car that would indicate near a terminal.”
Although the photo says this is Madison, that sure looks like Chicago Union Station, which means car 701 is probably on Adams instead, heading east. (B. H. Nichols Photo) Bob Lalich: “I agree with your comment, car 701 is passing CUS on Adams.” Andre Kristopans: “701 should be on Adams EB at Canal.”
Adams and Canal today.
CTA 3250 is at the end of the line on route 67. The presence of “wings” on this car would indicate this car has probably been repainted green. (John Buff Photo)
CSL Sedan 3343 at around 7740 S. Vincennes Avenue on December 1, 1940, passing South Shops.
The same area today.
CSL Red Cross tribute car near the Wrigley Building in June 1944. This car was in the 1700-series. (Gordon Lloyd Photo)
CTA 5421 at South Shops on May 20, 1951.
CTA Pullman 848 at South Shops on May 20, 1951.
CSL 3132 on Broadway-State. Andre Kristopans adds, “just a feeling based on background buildings, but I’ll bet it’s on 119th between Halsted and Michigan.” (Comparison with other photos indicates the location is most likely 119th and Morgan.)