CTA articulated “Doodlebug” 5003 southbound at Main Street in Evanston. (C. Edward Hedstrom Photo)
An aerial view, showing where the picture of 5003 was taken near Main and Chicago. There is a gap between the CTA Evanston branch and the Metra UP-North Line (formerly, the Chicago & North Western), large enough for a short paved road, now mainly used for parking.
Today, we have another batch of classic Chicago rapid transit photos to share with you. These are not easy to come by, and as far as I can tell, this is only the third time we have devoted an entire post to them.
We have some great pictures of the experimental articulated “Doodlebugs” ordered by the Chicago Rapid Transit Company, which were delivered in 1947-48. These were the first new Chicago rapid transit cars in nearly 25 years, and were inspired by the similar “Bluebird” compartment cars purchased by New York’s Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit in 1939-40.*
Chicago’s Loop “L” is famous world-wide. What is perhaps less known is how a few other cities had short stretches of elevateds, and we have included a couple pictures of those as well. In addition to Baltimore and Boston, shown here, there were also “els” of some sort in Kansas City and Hoboken, New Jersey. To this day, there is more elevated trackage in New York than in Chicago.
Some of today’s pictures were taken at much the same times and places as pictures in those two earlier posts. Sometimes we have been able to identify the times and places when these pictures could have been taken, other times not. As always, if you can help provide any information that might shed light on what’s going on here, we would definitely appreciate it.
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*Here are some films of the Bluebirds in action circa 1954, shortly before they were retired:
CTA 5001 at Laramie on September 27, 1948. (Stephen D. Maguire Photo)
CTA 5003 on the Met “L” near Throop Street Shops in 1948. (St. Louis Car Company Photo)
Brand-new CTA 5003 on C&NW flatcars in 1948. (St. Louis Car Company Photo)
CTA “L” car 3115 at West Shops in April 1949. This was one of the few places where CTA rapid transit cars and streetcars could operate on the same tracks, the other being at 63rd Street Lower Yard. The location is approximately 3900 W. Lake Street. There was a ramp, a rather steep grade in fact, connecting with the Lake Street “L”, which lasted until 1987. Can that be a streetcar at right?
The approximate location of the previous picture. Since that photo was taken, CTA has built a substation here for the Lake Street “L”.
Streetcar tracks are still visible today at CTA’s West Shops, which was built by the West Chicago Street Railroad, which became part of Chicago Surface Lines in 1914. CTA used West Shops for rapid transit car work for a few years into the early 1950s, before such work was consolidated elsewhere. The tracks crossing Lake Street itself were only removed a couple years ago.
The first train of new 6000s on display at the North Water Street terminal on August 17, 1950. This terminal provided a convenient place to display a train without interfering with regular service.
A rare CTA three-car train of singe car units on the Ravenswood (Brown Line) “L” on May 28, 1978. In general, three-car trains resulted from one of the cars in a four-car train being taken out of service. This picture was taken at Chicago Avenue. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo) It’s been pointed out to me that this picture was taken on a Sunday, during a time when the Ravenswood did not run on Sundays. So, this was a fantrip train that would have had the run of the Ravenswood south of Belmont. This picture looks like it was taken at track level. Now the Brown Line runs downtown seven days a week. Gordon Earl Lloyd (1924-2006) was a well-known railfan author and photographer.
The Guiford Avenue el in Baltimore, circa 1949. (Lester K. Wismer Photo)
A Boston Elevated Railway train of 0300-class cars , near Rowes Wharf station on the last day of the Atlantic Avenue el, September 28, 1938. (Robert Stanley Collection)
The mount on this Kodachrome slide helps narrow down the time frame on this photo to 1955-57. We are at the Indiana Avenue station on the South Side “L”, looking west. We posted a picture showing the view looking east at this station in a previous post. That picture shows a Kenwood shuttle train, but the wood cars in the distance here are very likely Stock Yards cars. Wooden “L” cars would not have been running on the Howard-Jackson Park-Englewood line, as that went through the State Street subway. According to Graham Garfield’s excellent web site, Stock Yards shuttle cars would have stopped at the south platform (to the left in this picture) via a single track. Presumably, the two-car wood train in this picture is heading west, and the mainline train of 6000s is heading east. Running parallel to the “L” at this point, just to the north, is the Chicago Junction Railway, which built and owned the Kenwood branch of the “L.” This part of the CJ was abandoned in the 1960s after the Union Stock Yards had dwindled down to next to nothing.
A close-up view of the previous scene.
An early 1940s map of the Stock Yards branch of the “L”. Indiana station is just to the right of the green line. You can see how the Chicago Junction ran parallel to the “L” just to the north. The Stock Yards branch was abandoned in 1957, shortly before Kenwood.
An early 1940s map of the Kenwood branch of the “L”, which was abandoned in 1957.
CTA 4357 at South Boulevard and Maple in October 1952, at the west end of the Lake Street “L” when it ran on the ground.
South Boulevard and Maple in Oak Park today. The Lake Street “L”, today’s Green Lin, was relocated to the Chicago & North Western embankment in 1962. That’s the Harlem station at left, which has its main entrance at Marion Street.
There was only a brief period when this May 1969 photo could have been taken. What we see is the west end of the Englewood “L” yard near Loomis. The yard itself was renovated in the early 1960s, as evidenced by the concrete supports. We are standing on a newly built section of “L”, soon to be connected to the rest of the structure, that extended this line to Ashland, a more practical terminus that provides a better place for bus transfers. We are looking east.
CTA Met car 2888 heads up a Garfield Park train on the Loop “L” circa 1950.
A Douglas Park local at the west end of the line at Oak Park Avenue in Berwyn, circa 1950. This is before A/B “skip stop” service began on this route, which was soon cut back to 54th Avenue, its present terminus.
A CTA single car unit running under wire at the Linden terminal in Wilmette in 1964. We are looking south. The Evanston branch was changed over to third rail along with the retirement of 4000-series “L” cars in 1973.
A woman on CTA “baldy” car 4031 notices her picture is being taken at an unidentified location. As you can see, these 1913 “L” cars featured sideways seating.
We previously ran a very similar picture in an earlier post. In fact, it seems likely both pictures were taken at much the same time, although they are not identical. In any case, the previous caption information will do just as well here: According to Andre Kristopans, it shows a “Normal Park shuttle between Harvard Englewood and Stewart Jct – appears inbound.” Edward Maurath notes that car “223 was made by Jewett in 1902 for the South Side Line, then known as the ”alley L’.”
A Douglas Park “L” train, signed to go to Lawndale, at Randolph and Wabash. CTA had a small storage yard at Kenton, which was abandoned in the early 1950s.
The same location as the last picture, and another Douglas Park train going to Lanwdale only, but this is a different car (2821) and run number (316 vs. 315). Interesting that consecutive runs would only be going that far. There must not have been much demand for outbound service when this picture was taken.
This is the old Clark and Lake “L” station and we are looking east. An outbound Ravenswood “A” train is stopped at the station. The signs at right are advertising a stage version of Mister Roberts at the Erlanger Theatre. A/B “skip stop” service was instituted on the Ravenswood on August 1, 1949, which is probably around the time this picture was taken. Prior to this, most Ravenswood service was operated by 4000s running via the subway. By Spring of 1951, base service on the Rave was being operated by new 6000s.
Where this picture could have been taken was somewhat of a mystery, but the one place that seems a good fit is the old Lawndale terminal on the Humboldt Park “L”. There, only one track served the platform, while there were two tracks for storage. Gate cars such as these were used during the CTA era, and the “L” itself was shoehorned between buildings such as the one at left. There was a tower at the end of the platform, such as the one seen here. In that scenario, the “M” may simply stand for Metropolitan, as Humboldt Park was part of the Met “L”.
For the sake of comparison, Graham Garfield’s excellent web site shows a picture taken at Lawndale, but looking in the opposite direction (east):
The building shown in the last picture, as it looks today on Lawndale just north of North Avenue. The buildings to the west of here have been torn down (there is a car wash on that site today), but note the similarity in construction to the building shown in our mystery photo.
23 thoughts on “Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Three”
Among the early elevated railways is the one at Sioux City, Iowa. It receives a brief mention in CERA B-100, page 135. It started out briefly steam powered, then converted to electric streetcars. The station pictured has a decidedly urban look. The track map includes the elevated. The vastly more comprehensive CERA B-114 includes a history and pictures on pages 147-151.
Incredibly, Sioux City also briefly boasted a cable railway. The text states the system opened June 1, 1899, with extensions added in 1890 and 1892. The line was electrified May 16, 1894. The writer probably meant to state 1889 instead of 1899. I can’t believe CERA would make a mistake in editing. We know Iowa as the first in the nation politically; it also can boast about its firsts in small town transit.
I’m just guessing here, but could the photo of gate cars on three parallel tracks have been taken at Lawndale terminal on Humboldt Park? It and Normal Park are two I never had a chance to ride (along with trackage into the World’s Columbian Exposition).
In any case, it’s a treasure trove of Chicago “L” photos.
P.S. 105th Street on the Canarsie line in Brooklyn (today’s “L” line) was the last grade crossing (now gone) on New York’s subway system. At one time, some Brooklyn lines ran in the streets, mixing with traffic.
Thanks for the great information.
Normal Park, being a very short branch line, had only two tracks at the end of the line, with a crossover. On the other hand, Lawndale would seem to be a good match for that picture. It had but one track to serve the platform, with two storage tracks next to it, controlled by a tower at the end of the platform. Gate cars of the type shown in the picture were used during the CTA era.
pic041: I agree it’s at Lawndale. The building at left and the structure just above the ‘L’ cars (just west of the Milwaukee Road tracks) can be seen in historic aerial photos.
Nice photo of the Indiana Ave. Station scene. What caught my eye was the CR&I switcher working the CJ tracks. I have seen very few action photos on the CJ. Is this a John Dziobko photo? I have seen a few others of his taken at Indiana Ave. in this time frame.
The photographer is unidentified. But I did read that the Rock Island purchased the CJ around this time.
first time I have seen video of the BMT Bluebirds and they are quite nicer looking than in stills, one thing that is noticable (despite film to digital conversion) is that these cars are quite sprightly maybe the fastest pickup of any subway car I have seen. Clark did a really good job on them shame they were canceled.
Well, they were, relatively speaking, lightweight cars, based on PCC technology.
The “old Clark & Lake” shot is more likely circa 1948-49. The :Mister Roberts” posters are heralding its showing at the Erlanger Theater as the stage play, as opposed to the film.
Thanks… I have changed the caption accordingly.
Re the shots west of Indiana Av – the wood cars in the center track are laid-up spares for the Stock Yards. Kenwood spares were likewise parked on the old NB local track south of Indiana. The thinking was that if a train developed a problem, there were spares that could go into service immediately, while a switchman would come up later and take the defective back to 61st for repairs. Given how old these cars were at the time, I would say a very good idea.
The Chicago Junction Ry ended up part of Conrail. It had been operated as part of the Chicago River & Indiana RR (another NYC subsidiary) since the 1930’s. Currently NS owns what is left, from Ashland Av Yard (a VERY busy place still) to the ex-PRR main line at Stewart, and a very-rarely used piece from Stewart to LaSalle, which is very occasionally used by Metra to transfer cars. After the RI shut down and the LaSalle and Bureau County took over the freight operations north of Joliet, LSBC would use this track to go to Ashland yard, but have not done so in many years now. These days there are likely at best a couple of moves a year over this track. Movement east of LaSalle St is no longer possible after several bridges were removed. By the way, the factory the CRI is switching in these shots was the original Ford Chicago Assembly Plant, before Torrence was built in the 1930’s sometime.
The old Ford assembly plant that Andre mentioned was located at 3915 S. Wabash and opened for production in 1914. It was replaced by the Hegewisch assembly plant on Torrence Ave, which opened in 1924.
Maybe somebody can shed more light on this… Weekday midday Douglas Park service consisted of alternate Oak Park Expresses and Lawndale Locals. I had been under the impression that an EB express became a WB local and an EB local a WB express. However, if Oak Park trains had three cars and Lawndale trains one, obviously that did not happen. So if expresses were such both ways and locals both ways also, did an express pass a local between Canal and Marshfield? Locals made almost twice as many stops between Lawndale and Marshfield, so if a local left Lawndale right after an express, would not the next express catch up with it by Marshfield? Or were the headways long enough that the next express would not catch up until the local was back at Lawndale?
As for run numbers, 100’s were Logan Square/Humboldt Park, 200’s Garfield Park/Westchester, 300’s Douglas Park (this pattern holds to this day!). Since run numbers on the L are in the order that the runs finish, 315 would be finishing right in front of 316, so logically 316 would be following 315, especially if this is around noon and both runs are about to finish.
Regarding the shot of 3115 at West Shops, the yard north of Lake St was originally strictly a Lake St L yard, known as “carhouse”, that was also used for track material storage. South of Lake St down to Washington Blvd was the CSL’s shops. The track across Lake St was put in around 1950 when some L work, starting with the rehabbing of 4000’s by adding marker lights and permanent headlights, was moved to West Shops. The streetcar department really did not use the area north of Lake St much, mostly again for track department storage. The streetcar at right is probably being used as a storage shed. The ramp down was removed in the 1990’s, its last use was to bring 6000’s down to the old carhouse for cab signal installation. West Shop itself is now used strictly by way & structures for track and structure component storage and fabrication. It is also home for most of CTA’s truck fleet (which is quite extensive) and most of the trades, like electricians, plumbers, ironworkers. There has not been any rolling stock work done there since the early 1960’s when the new South Shops addition was built.
Here’s a photo of West Shops taken from the L station in 1993- the connection track across Lake St. was still in place, although by this point the ramp connection to the L was gone.
Excellent photos of Indiana Ave. Growing up on the South Side in the 1970s I remember seeing the CJRy trackage still in place on the Kenwood branch alignment. Here are a few more photos that I’ve picked up over the years:
[…] this note I want to comment about photos of Indiana Ave. and Harvard Ave. in Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Three (March 23, […]
The last photo above is quite rare – note steel cars on Stock Yards run. This only happened during the 1952 Republican Convention at the Amphitheatre. I guess CTA was a bit ashamed of what they were usually running there…
I noticed that assignments of wooden cars were already starting to scramble in the CTA era. The lead car on the Ravenswood A train was a South Side car…Van Dorn Couplers and a lack of trolley poles give it away. Also, on the Lawndale photo, was there another scramble of L woodies? The cars have safety chains on the right side(as the train would be running if the train were going forward), yet Lawndale, being a line of Met origin, should have had the safety chains on the opposite side. (The photo of the original 2800 series woodie shows off the placement of the chains, as well as the CTA logos that appeared on L cars after takeover.) Was CTA trying an attempt at some “standardization” of woodies, albeit in a matter rather odd, even though it may have been made with the safety of passengers waiting for trains in mind? There are a lot of tales of the woodies that have yet to see either print or bandwidth.
[…] can see pictures of similar signs in use in our earlier post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Three (March 23, 2016). In practice, a train that was not an express would simply flip the sign over and […]
[…] freight. Contrast this with a photo taken circa 1955-57 at much the same spot in our previous post Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Three (March 23, 2016). (George Trapp […]
[…] Chicago Rapid Transit Photos, Part Three (March 23, […]