As a shout-out to Joel Salomon of the Rockhill Trolley Museum, here is a picture of Chicago, Aurora & Elgin 315 in service on the old Garfield Park “L”. 315 is now part of their collection and they are always on the lookout for pictures of that car. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) This picture was taken somewhere west of Paulina Junction, but not as far west as Western Avenue.
This post was delayed when I came down with the flu last week. But we’re back on our feet in a big way today, with lots of interesting photos, which even include a few mysteries, and plenty of reader correspondence. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
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Hi-res scans of eight more documents have been added to our E-book collection The “New Look” in Chicago Transit: 1938-1973, available in our Online Store. This includes CSL Service News from April 17 and May 17, 1930, and the CTA Rider’s Readers from March 1951, August 1951, January 1952, July 1952, August 1952, and December 1952.
More World’s Fair Buses
Regarding our post Following Up (April 6, 2016), another tidbit of information has come to light regarding the disposition of 60 buses used by Greyhound to transport visitors at the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair (A Century of Progress). We previously reported how it appears at least a dozen of these ended up at the Texas Centennial Exhibition in 1936 with slightly different sheetmetal. Now, it seems that at least four of these buses were used in Michigan to bring people to a tourist attraction:
This 1930s postcard shows at least four former Chicago World’s Fair buses being used by the House of David in Benton Harbor, Michigan, a religious community that operated a popular zoo and amusement park. I’m not sure of the connection between Enders Greyhound Lines and the parent Greyhound company, which began as a number of separate firms that were eventually consolidated. You will note the buses still say “World’s Fair.”
Looks like new buses were used at the 1935-36 California Pacific Exposition in San Diego.
Torkel Korling, Renaissance Man
Peter Korling writes:
I was a streetcar operator for the MUNI of SF during the 60’s and I took the streetcar a block off the tracks-which was a long standing record. I have a picture of me departing the car after the incident. The slip-up was attributed to faulty brakes. I could be more specific- for it was an interesting story- streetcar wise.
I lived on the Southside of Chicago as a child so I love the pics of your streetcars. As all Chicagoans I rode them a lot. I also have made paintings and drawings of elevated trains, subways and interurbans. My father was a noted photographer of Chicago-maybe you heard of him: Torkel Korling.
Torkel Korling (1903-1998) was a true renaissance man. He invented the automatic diaphragm mechanism that made the SLR camera practical. He also invented the collapsing “Tiltall” type tripod.
In addition to this, he was one of the leading industrial and commercial photographers from the 1920s to the 1950s, and later in life, an expert nature photographer who published many books. He did at least one cover shot for Life magazine, and convinced them for just that one time only to leave their large logo off the front cover.
I am fortunate to have met your father when he was 85 and trying to market his latest invention, the “Optipivot.” We discussed photography, and he had nothing but disdain for the methods used by contemporary commercial shooters.
The would waste hundreds of pictures in the hopes of finding something usable. His method, he said, was to carefully set up a “master shot,” and then he would take one or two pictures at the most. Once he got what he wanted, there was no need, he felt, to take another picture.
He also complained to me about how the various Japanese camera manufacturers refused to pay him any royalties for his automatic diaphragm patent, which made the 35mm single lens reflex camera practical. Instead, they waited until his patent expired in the 1950s and then they all came out with such cameras.
He applied for this patent in 1933 and it was awarded three years later. He told me the idea came to him when he was photographing children. They moved around so much that he did not have time to focus his camera with the lens wide open, then reset his aperture to take the picture. His invention allowed viewing with the lens wide open, and then the aperture would automatically change back to its preset f/stop once the shutter was pressed to take the picture.
His invention was licensed by Graflex and first used on their Super D model reflex cameras. According to Camerapedia, “The RB Super D, which features a semi-automatic diaphragm, was produced in 3¼×4¼ (1941-1963) and 4 x 5 (1948-1957) formats.”
Photos taken by Torkel Korling are now in the collections of many museums around the world, and have been featured in several exhibitions. Anyone who has ever used an SLR camera owes Mr. Korling a debt of gratitude.
The Graflex RB Super D camera, which was the first to use Torkel Korling’s patented automatic diaphragm invention:
The April 26, 1937 cover of LIFE magazine featured a picture by Torkel Korling.
L. Demery writes:
The blurb for “Chicago Surface Lines: The Big 5 Routes and 5 Others” (published by the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society) begins as follows:
“In 1931, the five largest Chicago Surface Lines routes, in terms of originating revenue passengers, were Ashland, Clark-Wentworth, Halsted, Madison and Milwaukee. The combined riding on these routes was greater than the total riding in many medium-sized American cities. CSL also had some very small routes in terms of ridership and they demonstrate the diversity of CSL’s operations.”
Does anyone have, or know where to find, a list of annual ridership statistics for individual CSL / CTA lines?
CSL (and other streetcar companies) did compile such statistics, no doubt about that. However, much information of this type (for US systems in general) has been lost or destroyed. Any information or “leads” re. CSL would be greatly appreciated.
Perhaps you can look at the yearly reports issued by the Board of Supervising Engineers during the CSL era? Or, maybe our readers might have some suggestions.
Christopher J Lemm writes:
After reading your January 2015 story on the CTA Westchester Branch, the picture of the train crossing Madison street in Bellwood brought back some great memories, I grew up in that house, my grandfather was Clarence Lemm, track foreman for the Aurora and Elgin Railroad, he died in 1936. My father followed in grandpa’s footsteps, he worked at CTA 43 years, he started as a clerk and retired as the head of insurance and pensions. When my brother and I were very young my dad would take us for rides on the Aurora and Elgin, he used grandpa’s Sunset Lines employee pin and we all road free of charge. Thank you for some great memories!
Thanks for sharing those reminiscences with us. It’s great when we can help people make these sorts of connections.
John Smatlak writes:
David- Enjoyed your coverage of the former Chicago City Railway Building on South Wabash. I remember seeing one of those same CSL cast iron call boxes on the wall at Limits garage (photos attached).
Speaking of former CSL carhouses that survived into the modern era, I’d love to see some photos of the Lincoln-Wrightwood carhouse. I worked nearby around 1978-79 and went inside the building a few times. At the time it was used by the City as a garage for garbage trucks. The tracks were still in the floor and the repair bay for the streetcars was still very much intact (I even found some old CSL requisition paperwork scattered around on the floor). Sadly I never took any pictures of the building, and of course one day it was gone! I have a few images from when it was used as the temporary home for the CTA’s historic collection, but would love to see some more photos.
Keep up the good work.
Thanks. FYI, Bill Shapotkin has generously shared some photos he took in 2004 showing a 100-year-old substation originally used by the Chicago City Railway Company, which was then still being used for the Chicago Transit Authority’s South Side “L”:
A CTA substation located on the southwest corner of 42nd and Wabash, as it appeared on July 30, 2004. Constructed under authority of the Board of Supervising Engineers, Chicago Traction, it originally fed power to the streetcars. It now services the “L”. View looks southwest. (William Shapotkin Photo)
Another view of the same building looking east/southeast along the south side of 42nd Street at the back end of the building. (William Shapotkin Photo)
In this 2004 view, there are street signs still visible on the BOSE-built substation located on the southwest corner of 42nd and Wabash. (William Shapotkin Photo)
In this 2004 view, we see a Chicago Transit Authority manhole cover, located along the south side of 42nd Street between State and Wabash, in front of a still-in-service BOSE-built substation. (William Shapotkin Photo)
This century-old manhole cover, in the same general area as the previous pictire, still reads Chicago City Railway Company. (William Shapotkin Photo)
Scott Greig adds a postscript:
The pictured substation building at 42nd and Wabash is no longer an active substation. I was in there maybe 7-8 years ago, and there was no substation equipment left except the empty shells of some newer equipment. At the time it was being used for storage by CTA’s Power & Way department.
Here is a rare color shot of Chicago, South Shore & South Bend car 15, after it had been modernized in 1942. According to CERA Bulletin 41, the car had a red roof, but it looks more purple in this picture. I think the photo shows the accurate color, since a red roof would not have provided contrast with the maroon car body. I’m not sure what date the car was repainted to the much more familiar South Shore Line traction orange, but it may have been shortly after World War II. The car was originally built by Pullman in 1926.
This rare photo of South Shore Line car 1126, signed “To Chicago, the Boulevardier,” is dated February 14, 1939, although I do not know whether that is the date the picture was taken, or when it was printed. Incredibly, this car survives. As Don’s Rail Photos notes, “1126 was a work motor built by Niles in 1908 as CLS&SB 73. In 1927 it was rebuilt into work motor 1126. In 1941 it was sold and converted to a house. In 1994 it was purchased for restoration from a buyer who had picked it up the month before for back taxes. He really did not want the car, just the land. Bob Harris began restoration in 2005…” According to a 2015 Chicago Tribune article, the car is now in Murphysboro, Illinois, and is 80% restored.
The coming of summer also means more construction and demolition projects. A four-car CA&E train is seen on the old CTA Garfield Park “L” at Ogden on October 19, 1952. Demolition of buildings for the Congress Expressway is well underway.
CTA red Pullman 144, long a mainstay at the Illinois Railway Museum, is shown on the Wentworth line on a May 25, 1958 CERA fantrip, less than a month before the end of all streetcar service on Chicago. (Homer G. Benton Photo) That’s a 1956 Oldsmobile at left. M. E. writes, “This picture faces northwest and was taken at about 16th and Clark. The rail embankment on the left is the main line into LaSalle St. Station, at that time used by the New York Central, Nickel Plate and Rock Island. Today that line is the Metra Rock Island. The railroad viaduct crossing Clark St. behind car 144 is the Saint. Charles Air Line of the Illinois Central, which ran due west from the IC main line near the lake. Just north of that viaduct is the viaduct for the main line into Dearborn Station, which crossed Clark St. on a southwest / northeast angle before turning due north into the station. The streetcar tracks went under both viaducts on private right-of-way adjacent to the west side of Clark St. Car 144’s destination sign says Vincennes – 77th, where the South Shops were then and still are today.”
Summer is coming, and along with it, summer music festivals. Here, North Shore Line car 167 is shown at the entrance to Ravinia Park. This was part of the old Shore Line Route, abandoned in 1955. There is a parking lot where the tracks used to be, although you can still ride Metra trains there. Perhaps the festival dates can help determine what year this picture was taken.
According to Don’s Rail Photos, Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 213 “was built by Cincinnati in March 1920, #2445, as a merchandise despatch car. In 1940 it was rebuilt as a disc harrow ice cutter. It was retired in 1955 and sold to CHF as their 242. It was donated to Illinois Railway Museum in 1964.” This photo by the late Bob Selle shows it newly delivered to the Chicago Hardware Foundry in North Chicago on August 7, 1955.
The late Bob Selle took this great shot of an outbound Milwaukee Road commuter train leaving Union Station in Chicago on August 8, 1958. These were some of the consists I saw as a child, since I lived very close to what is now the Metra Milwaukee District West Line. Ridership was nothing compared to what it is today, and I believe bi-levels were not introduced here until around 1961-62. That’s the Merchandise Mart across the Chicago River. This picture was taken from the Lake Street overpass. That looks like a 1957 Oldsmobile convertible at left.
This photo of a Chicago & North Western train of bi-levels was taken by Al Clum in June 1962. But where? One reader writes, “The descending tracks in the foreground of the photo are leading to the North Shore Line’s North Chicago Junction Station. The CNW train is on the CNW embankment between Great Lakes to the south and North Chicago to the north. Since the headlights are not turned on on the locomotive, one would presume that the train is a push-pull heading south.”
Former Chicago Surface Lines mail car 6, built in 1891, as it looked on May 25, 1958. This car is now at the Fox River Trolley Museum. You can see a black-and-white photo of this car, taken at the same time as this one, in our previous post Throwback Thursday (January 7, 2016). To see a picture of West Chicago Street Railway car 4, also taken the same day, there’s one in our post Chicago Streetcars In Color (February 22, 2015).
Busy action at an Illinois Terminal station, but where? Perhaps the bus sign might be a clue. This type of scene was once commonplace in American life during the first half of the 20th century. PS- Don Ross says this is Springfield.
My guess is that this picture shows the final interurban run on the Illinois Terminal, and this man may be the president of the railroad. If so, the date is March 3, 1956. (Glenn L. Sticken Photo) There is another photo of that same train, taken by the same photographer, in our earlier post Historic Chicago Buses, Part Three (November 23, 2015).
Illinois Terminal car 241 at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis in February 1958. Don’s Rail Photos says, “241 was built by American Car & Foundry in July 1907, #5080. It went to the National Museum of Transport on July 25, 1950.”
The last run of the Illinois Terminal interurban, shown here in Carlinville, took place on March 3, 1956. Older equipment like car 284 was used instead of the railroad’s relatively new streamliners. The black bunting draped on this car is now at the Illinois Railway Museum.
Illinois Terminal 276 and 530 on a 1955 fantrip in Urbana.
The final passenger train on the Illinois Terminal Railroad makes a station stop in Girard, March 2, 1956. (Dale Jenkins Collection)
This old postcard photo, which shows obvious signs of being retouched, shows the Fifth Avenue station on the AE&C (later CA&E), most likely in the early 1900s when it was new. We are looking west, and it appears the area was not that built up yet. Contrast this with pictures of the same station in the interurban’s waning days, in our post A Cold Last Ride (January 25, 2016). The postcard itself was printed by William G. Hoffman of 4340 Jackson Boulevard in Chicago, apparently no relation to the late railfan photographer Bill Hoffman.
New Site Additions
This picture has been added to our previous post West Towns Streetcars in Black-and-White (August 4, 2015):
Chicago & West Towns 142 at the east end of the Lake Street line at Austin Boulevard on July 4, 1946. The building at right is the old Park Theatre. This is a “sister” car to the 141, now preserved in operating condition at the Illinois Railway Museum.
This photo has been added to our post West Towns Streetcars in Color (February 10, 2015):
Chicago & West Towns Railways car 112 heads south at Harlem and Cermak on August 17, 1947.