On June 19, 1953, CTA Pullman-built PCC 4337 is at the Halsted and 79th loop, south end of route 8. But the car is signed for route 42, Halsted-Downtown, which was a variant on the line. CTA bus 2581 is at left. Soon, the Pullmans would begin disappearing from this route as they were sent off to St. Louis Car Company for scrapping in the “PCC Conversion Program.” There are very few photos of PCCs on route 42, making this one a rarity.
The bus loop at Halsted and 79th as it appears today. Andre Kristopans: “Regarding 79th/Halsted loop, the driveway is actually just as wide in both photos. It is an optical illusion because where once there were three lanes, now there are only two, wider, lanes, and a single, wide, platform. Also, in the early photo, all buses and cars went around the block via 79th and Emerald, and exited westbound. Later there was a large section added in the back, behind the buildings you see, so buses could enter directly off Halsted, loop around, and come back out onto Halsted.”
Here we have another bevy of Chicago PCC streetcar photos for your enjoyment. To see previous installments in this series, just use the search window at the top of this page.
As always, if you have interesting tidbits of information to add to what we have written here, don’t hesitate to add your comments or drop us a line to:
PS- These photos are also being added to our E-book collection Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available in our Online Store.
If you are interested in PCC trucks, the motors that make these things go, there is an interesting article you can read about them, written by Bill Becwar, who is one of our readers. It explains how trucks from actual Chicago streetcars came to power ones used now In Kenosha, by way of scrapped 6000-series “L” cars.
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Now Updated with 46 Pages of New Material:
Lifting the Lid in the Loop, 1915
The Chicago Freight Tunnels, 1928
Chicago Elevated Railroads Consolidation of Operations, 1913
The Chicago Tunnel Company (1906-1959) operated an elaborate network of 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge track in 7.5-by-6-foot (2.3 m × 1.8 m) tunnels running under the streets throughout the central business district including and surrounding the Loop, delivering freight, parcels, and coal, and disposed of ash and excavation debris.
Our E-book collection includes two short books issued by the Tunnel Company, detailing their operations. Lifting the Lid in the Loop is 46 pages long, has many great illustrations, and was published in 1915. To this we add a different 32-page illustrated book from 1928.
The third volume in this collection, Chicago Elevated Railroads Consolidation of Operations (60 pages) was published in 1913 to help facilitate the through-routing of the South Side and Northwestern elevated lines. As Britton I. Budd wrote in the introduction, “This book of instructions is issued for the purpose of familiarizing the employees of the South Side Elevated Railroad with the character, service, track arrangement, and general features of the system of the Northwestern Elevated Railroad, and to familiarize the employees of the Northwestern elevated Railroad with the same details of the South Side Elevated Railroad, before through-routed operation of cars is begun.”
Now The Trolley Dodger is making all three of these long-out-of-print works available once again on a single DVD data disc. Includes a Tribute to the late bookseller Owen Davies, who reprinted the “L” book in 1967, a 1966 Chicago Tribune profile of Davies, and reproductions of several Davies flyers. 177 pages in all.
This collection is a tremendous value, since an original copy of Lifting the Lid in the Loop alone recently sold for over $200 on eBay.
# of Discs – 1 Price: $14.95
It’s November 14, 1948, and CTA PCC 4341 and its follower are on Southport at Clark Street, the north end of the #9 Ashland route– a very unusual place for PCCs to be. That’s Graceland cemetery on the east side of Clark. Andre Kristopans writes, “The Clark PCC’s parked on Southport are Cubs extras. Would have come down from Devon (note CLARK-LAWRENCE sign), and would be put away on normally-unused track on Southport. When game would let out, they would be backed back out onto Clark, and sent south.” Which all sounds very plausible except for the date of the photograph. But as Andre pointed out in a later note, on November 14, 1948 the Chicago Bears played the Green Bay Packers, and that game took place in Wrigley Field. So these PCCs are being held back until the end of the game. The Bears won that day, 7-6.
Clark and Southport today.
Someone’s just gotten off CTA PCC 4246 via the middle door on October 8, 1948. The car is heading southbound on route 36 – Broadway-State and is just north of Lake Street in this Mervin E. Borgnis photo. Borgnis wrote a number of different railfan books, and at one time worked as a motorman for the Lehigh Valley Transit Company in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Jim Huffman writes: “It does not look like State St, to me it looks like Wabash. The Broadway-State route used Wabash as a detour until the State St bridge was constructed. The new bridge was Dedicated on 5/28/1949, which precludes it being on State.”
Wabash and Lake today. We are looking north.
CTA PCCS 4372 and 7261 are at 81st and Halsted, the south end of the busy Clark-Wentworth line.
CTA pre-war PCC 4007 speeds east on private right-of-way near the Narragansett terminal of the 63rd Street line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL pre-war PCC 7002 is in the Madison-Austin loop, at the west end of busy route 20, circa 1945-46 in “tiger stripes” livery.
In this posed press photo, probably taken in late 1936, two well-dressed models show how easy it is to get on the new “streamliners.” This may be car 7002. (Chicago Architectural Photographing Company)
CSL PCC 4062, the first postwar car delivered, heads west on Madison just east of Laramie, probably in the fall of 1946. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
5146 W. Madison today.
CTA 4010 and 4035 lay over at the expansive loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett in December 1952.
CTA 4029 lays over on 64th Street near Stony Island on March 10, 1952. This was the east end of route 63.
Dave Carlson asks:
Great pics, as always. What was that interesting building on the left side of the photo at 63rd and Stony? Is it still there?
63rd and Stony Island was once the eastern terminus of the Jackson Park branch of the South Side “L”, so it was an important transfer point to other places. Greyhound had a terminal there, and there were various other retail businesses.
However, now the Jackson Park “L” has been cut back to Cottage Grove and, in a reversal of sorts, part of the abandonment involved a local group who argued that removing the “L” would actually stimulate economic growth. Usually, it’s the opposite.
The first cutback of this branch involved the bridge over the Illinois Central, which was not as well built as some others. It was declared unsafe and the first cutback was supposed to be just west of the IC, where there was to be a transfer point with what is now the Metra Electric.
Some work was done on this station, using federal money, but ultimately it was never used as the line was cut back even further. Not sure whether CTA had to pay back the government for this.
So, no, the large retail building in the picture, which took up a square block, is gone. Besides the Greyhound station there was a golf shop (still in business, but elsewhere) and I think a bowling alley among other things. A YMCA now occupies the site.
64th and Stony Island today. Jackson Park, site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, is east of here. The “L”, which once ran here, has been cut back to Cottage Grove. If anything is still here, it’s probably the tracks under the pavement.
It’s winter, and CTA 7272 heads south. The local movie theater is showing The King and I, a musical starring Yul Brynner that was first released in June 1956. This picture probably dates to the winter of 1956-57, and there is a 1957 Plymouth visible at rear. One of our readers notes: “The movie theater was the CALO THEATER at Clark and Balmoral. It is now occupied by a thrift store called The Brown Elephant. Photo was probably taken in December 1956 because of the Christmas decorations hanging on the line poles. Car is heading south on Clark.” You can read more about the Calo Theater here.
Clark and Balmoral today. We are looking north.
CTA PCC 7174 heads south on route 36 at Broadway amd Wilson, with a three-car train of wooden “L” cars up above, probably in Evanston Express service. This historic Uptown “L” station also served the North Shore Line.
Broadway and Wilson today. The CTA station is being completely rebuilt, at substantial cost. To read more about architect Arthur U. Gerber, who designed the original rapid transit station and many others, go here.
CTA prewar PCC 4021, last survivor of its type, in dead storage at South Shops in the late 1950s. This car is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.
We are looking north on Clark and Devon in 1957, and a southbound route 22 – Clark-Wentworth car heads our way. It’s difficult to make out the car number, but this may be 4390.
Clark and Devon today, looking north.
CTA 7165 at Broadway and Devon, circa 1956-57. (Jay Viena Photo)
Broadway and Devon today. We are facing south.
CTA 7169 at Clark and Schubert. (Jay Viena Photo)
CTA 7142 is on a flatcar in August 1958, ready to be pulled by locomotive L-201 to an interchange for its trip to St. Louis for scrapping and parts recycling for rapid transit cars. (Jay Viena Photo)
CTA 7189 at the Clark-Howard loop, circa 1956-57, northern terminus of busy route 22. (Jay Viena Photo)
In this fantrip photo, which I believe is from December 1955, PCC 7236 follows red Pullman 225, which has been temporarily renumbered as 144 just for the day, thanks to the Illini Railroad Club. To read more about this fantrip, go here. This location may be on Irving Park just west of Sheridan Road.
CTA 4377, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is southbound on Clark Street at Harrison in June 1958. (Joe Testagrose Collection)
Andre Kristopans comments on this 1930s photo: “Look carefully at the shot of 7003 – it is a posed picture. Probably everybody is a CSL engineering department employee. Several things of note: 1) That is not trolley bus overhead. It is two positive wires side by side. Look at the street carefully. That is gauntlet track. Most carbarns had a gauntlet track so there would be fewer switches in the normal running rail. Besides, the TB wire on Pulaski existed as far as Maypole, then turned east into the shops in 1936. 2) Behind is a southbound Kedzie car. 3) Street is way too narrow to be anywhere on Madison. Conclusion – this is on Kedzie in front of Kedzie carhouse, and indeed 7003 is on the yard lead, loading up “dignitaries” for an inspection trip.”
About the above picture, Bill Shapotkin writes:
This pic of a W/B Madison St car is unidentified. Believe view may be WB at Pulaski (note trolley bus wire overhead). Would this have been for pull-outs on Pulaski (from West Shops?). Do not see a corresponding trackless wire for E/B Madison.
Any such shared wire, between trolley buses and streetcars, does not seem to be noted on the track maps in my possession. Perhaps one of our readers will know more, thanks.
Stan Nettis adds:
The picture of the pre war PCC is not at Pulaski. It is probably at Cicero as I don’t recognize any of those buildings at Pulaski.
Looks like Andre Kristopans has hit upon the answer (see the revised photo caption above).
CTA rapid transit cars 6199-6200, also known as “flat door” PCCs, were the final pair built with all-new parts before the wholesale recycling of Chicago’s PCC streetcar fleet began. (St. Louis Car Company Photo)
A St. Louis Car Company photo of CTA 4381. But you can’t exactly call this a “builder’s photo,” since this car was sent to St. Louis in October 1952 to see if it would be feasible to convert streetcars into “L” cars. As it turned out, there were too many differences, in floor height for example. Thus it was decided to simply scrap the cars and reuse as many of the parts as possible, or, in some cases, resell them, as SLCC did with some of the backup controllers, which went to St. Louis Public Service.
Another shot of CTA 4381 at the St. Louis Car Company plant. This car was not officially retired by CTA until April 15, 1953. Another car was sent to Pullman for similar experiments.
CTA PCC 4094 near downtown. George Foelschow: “Car 4094 is making the turn from northbound Dearborn Street into Kinzie Street. When Clark and Dearborn were made one-way, northbound cars on Dearborn used the former southbound track. I have heard that after both Broadway and Clark were abandoned and only Wentworth remained, CTA briefly considered turning cars on Randolph Street, but the two river crossings persisted until the end.”
Dearborn and Kinzie today. We are looking south.
It’s hard to make out the location of this Pullman-built postwar PCC. One of our readers writes: “I believe that this photo was taken on Dearborn Street just north of Adams. The building in the background on the far left looks like the Marquette Building. The front destination sign reads 42 and the side sign reads Halsted-Archer-Clark.”
PCCs and buses share State Street in December 1954. The former State-Lake theater is now used by ABC station WLS-TV to tape live performances.