In this scene at Kedzie station (car house), we have CSL prewar PCC 7019, along with cars 3376, 3381, 3355, 6076, 3007, and 6072, with another PCC behind it. PCC service on busy route 20 – Madison was supplemented with some of the 1929 Sedans since the 83 cars purchased in 1936 were not enough for the line, which needed about 100 cars total in the late 1930s. (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo, Joe L. Diaz Collection)
For today’s post, we offer another ample selection of Chicago Surface Lines photos from the George Trapp collection. To find earlier posts in this series, just type “George Trapp” into the search window at the top of this page.
As always, if you can help us with locations and other tidbits of information about what you see here, don’t hesitate to let us know so we can update the captions and share the information with our readers. You can comment on this post, or write us directly at:
We are very grateful for the generosity of George Trapp in sharing these great classic images with us. We also wish to thank the original photographers who took these pictures, most notably the late Edward Frank, Jr. and Joe Diaz, who tirelessly roamed the streets of Chicago in the 1930s and 1940s to document what was then the largest streetcar system in the world. In addition, we should also thank Fred J. Borchert, who took similar photos going back to the 1910s and 1920s, Robert V. Mehlenbeck, and George Krambles, who got a very early start as a railfan, as you can see in some of these pictures.
Unfortunately, all five of these individuals are gone from the scene, but fortunately, we can still benefit from all their hard work in taking these wonderful old photographs. Let us never forget that we are, as Sir Issac Newton said, “standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Since Monday is Labor Day, we have been sure to include some photos of CSL work cars too.
CSL 1767 on Broadway-State. One of our regular readers writes, “On Broadway SB near Surf Street (my best guess) post 1937.” (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo, Joe L. Diaz Collection)
This sure looks like the same building as in the previous picture. It’s around 2883 N. Broadway, which is just north of Surf.
CSL 6211 on the Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago (Indiana) route, which was jointly operated as a through-route with, logically enough, the Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago Railway. As the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society notes, “Common ownership with the South Chicago City Railway Company brought through operation into Chicago as early as 1896. Similarly, Chicago cars ran to Hammond and East Chicago. However, each company advertised the service on its side of the state line as a local route, retaining the fares from that portion.” Service ended in 1940. (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo, Joe L. Diaz Collection)
The presence of Chicago’s famous Como Inn restaurant (which closed in 2001, after being in business for 77 years) helps identify this location as the “six corners” intersection of Halsted, Milwaukee and Grand. Andre Kristopans: “The street you are looking down is Milwaukee, cars could be Milwaukee, Elston, or Division routes. The 1900 on the left in the first photo is on Grand, and Halsted crosses both left to right.” Scott writes, “The photographer is looking northwest up Milwaukee Avenue; the “turtleback” car at the left in the first picture is on Grand. The block in the background (with the corner bar and Schlitz billboard) was recently torn down for new construction; the buildings had all been painted a bluish-gray and left to deteriorate for years.” We posted a later photo showing a PCC car at this location in our post Chicago PCC Updates (August 30, 2015). (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo, Joe L. Diaz Collection)
CSL 3058 passes car 687 on Milwaukee at the intersection with Grand and Halsted. (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo, Joe L. Diaz Collection)
The same location today. Grand is on the left, Milwaukee on the right.
CSL 6259 at the Imlay loop, the north end of the Milwaukee Avenue route. (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo, Joe L. Diaz Collection)
CSL Sedan (Peter Witt) 3367 in service on the Cottage Grove route. Andre Kristopans: “Sedan 3367 is turning west to north at 95th and Cottage Grove.” M. E. writes, “The photo titled “CSL Sedan (Peter Witt) 3367 in service on the Cottage Grove route” must have been taken at 95th and Cottage Grove, because the streetcar is turning from one road to another. At 95th St. there were actually two Cottage Grove Aves.– one heading north along the west side of the Illinois Central main line, the other heading south along the east side of the IC main line. To connect from one Cottage Grove to the other (whether north- or southbound), the streetcars turned left onto 95th St., went under the IC, then turned right on the other Cottage Grove. As for which side of the IC this picture depicts, I believe it is the west side, because I recall a wall along the south side of 95th St. Ergo, this view is west on 95th and the streetcar is heading north.” (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo, Joe L. Diaz Collection)
The same location today. We are looking west along 95th, and Cottage Grove is to the right.
CSL 3113 on the Ashland route. Andre Kristopans: “3113 is at Ashland and Irving Park, on the NORTH ASHLAND shuttle route between Irving Park and Fullerton. It was made part of the main route in the 1930’s when the Ashland bridge over the North Branch was built.” (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo, Joe L. Diaz Collection)
Ashland and Irving Park today. We are looking east.
CSL 1260 on Montrose. Andre Kristopans: “1260 on Montrose might be at Knox. Does not appear to be at Milwaukee, but that was a 1930 extension, and this is likely before then.” (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo, Joe L. Diaz Collection)
One of our regular readers says that CSL Pullman 184 is in the Clark-Arthur Loop, across the street from Devon Station. (Robert V. Mehlenbeck Photo, Joe L. Diaz Collection)
Motion blur makes it hard to read the car number, but this is a Pullman in the (natch) “Pullman green” color scheme prior to the adoption of red in the 1920s. One of our regular readers writes, “Chicago Railways Pullman No. 191. Note the Chicago Railways logo on the side of the car. The CRys logo was very similar to the CSL logo. This photo was probably taken between 1908 and 1914 when CSL started operations. The cars were not painted red and cream until the early 1920s when CSL adopted that color scheme.” (Fred J. Borchert Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)
This is a circa 1940 view taken by Edward Frank, Jr. showing the old Edgewater car house. We previously posted a Fred J. Borchert photo showing a street railway post office car at this location, in Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part One (November 3, 2015). Such services ended in 1915. According to www.chicagorailfan.com:
CHICAGO NORTH SHORE STREET RAILWAY EDGEWATER 5847 N. Broadway (near Ardmore Ave.) Opened in 1893 Replaced by Devon car house in 1901 Used as Ardmore bus garage 1937-1950 Building remains standing, abandoned except for CTA substation within northwest corner. Chicago North Shore Street Railway Co. was sold in 1894 to North Chicago Electric Railway Co., and merged in 1899 into Chicago Consolidated Traction Co.
5847 N. Broadway today.
I’m not sure of the exact location of this car at Chicago’s lakefront. Is this Navy Pier? Oak Street beach? Or somewhere else entirely? Andre Kristopans: “The lakefront shot is indeed Oak St, the Chicago Ave loop which was on the NORTH side of Grand about where the entrance to the water filtration plant now is.” George Foelschow: “The lakefront picture features the Furniture Mart at Lake Shore Drive at Erie Street, built in 1926 and the largest building in Chicago for a time. The tiny beach would be at Ohio Street. The Chicago Avenue line approached Navy Pier until the drive was “improved”, though I believe its tracks were separate from the Grand Avenue line.” M. E. writes, “The photo titled “I’m not sure of the exact location of this car at Chicago’s lakefront” is probably, as you surmise, at Navy Pier. There was a huge building on the west side of Lake Shore Drive, which I think was the Furniture Mart. That would have been only a block north of Grand Ave., where Navy Pier is. There were no streetcars anywhere near the Oak St. beach.”
The number on this car at Navy Pier looks like 3010, which would make it a Brill. Andre Kristopans: “3010 at Navy Pier is probably working Stony Island-Wabash. This was the “short loop” roughly in the middle of Navy Pier Park, surrounded by Streeter Drive. Grand cars turned back next to the ramp on the left, which had once had streetcar track going to the upper level of the pier, but by this point was for truck access. The short loop was paved for trolley bus use in 1951, and by 1955 or so replaced by a new TT loop which was accessed from Streeter & Illinois, which lasted until the complete rebuilding of the area in the 1990’s.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
This is the old LaSalle Street streetcar tunnel, seen here north of Randolph. The tunnel was in use from 1871 until 1939, when it became an access point for construction of the Dearborn-Milwaukee subway. (Fred J. Borchert Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)
The old LaSalle Street streetcar tunnel, north of Randolph. (Fred J. Borchert Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)
Perhaps one of our readers can help identify this bridge. Andre Kristopans: “The first bridge photo is Kedzie across the Sanitary & Ship Canal. The IC bridge in the background is still there, the Kedzie bridge was replaced mid-1960’s, which caused the conversion of the Kedzie-California trolley bus route to motor buses, because CTA did not want to put wires on the shoo-fly.” Bill Shapotkin adds, “This is the Kedzie Ave bridge over the river south of 31st St. View looks E-N/E. Note the still-in-service IC bridge in background (which I did ride over under Amtrak).” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
Again, maybe one of our readers can help identify this bridge. Andre Kristopans: “The second bridge photo is much harder to ID. However, notice that while the bridge is for lanes, the streetcar is on the “wrong side”, as both tracks are on the near half of the bridge!” Perhaps the bridge was expanded at some point, and the car tracks were left on the one side only. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
Eric Bronsky writes:
This photo shows a car operating northbound on South Western Ave. Bridge over the Chicago Drainage Canal (known today as the Sanitary & Ship Canal), probably in the 1930s. This center pier swing bridge was built in 1906 and removed in 1939. Actually this bridge carried two separate thoroughfares – S. Western Ave. and S. Western Blvd., the latter being a component of Chicago’s historic boulevard system with limited access to local streets between 31st Blvd. and 54th St. Then as now, both thoroughfares were bi-directional. The car tracks were on the avenue (westernmost) side of the bridge.
The main problems with the old swing bridge were its low clearance and the center pier obstructing river traffic. The current bridge, originally completed in 1940 as a fixed span, was soon converted to a vertical lift bridge to accommodate WWII traffic from a shipyard along the canal. It was later converted back to a fixed span.
I have attached a photo which you may use in the blog. Dated Sept. 8, 1938, it looks north. Evidently S. Western Ave. was widened at some point after the bridge was built, but the car tracks were not relocated to the center of the rebuilt roadway, which would explain the offset on the curved approach to the bridge. Please credit Eric Bronsky Collection.
Thanks very much, Eric. There were other places along Western Avenue where the streetcar tracks ended up being offset after the street was widened. You can see such pictures, and a variety of pictures showing the 1940 replacement bridge, in Central Electric Railfans’ Association Bulletin 146, Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: the PCC Car Era 1936-1958.
According to the caption on this Chicago Historical Society photo, we are looking east at Devon station on September 23, 1923. This is a new repair bay at teh west end of the new pit, after much of the building here was destroyed by fire in early 1922.
Looking east at Clark and north of Schreiber, this February 10, 1922 Chicago Historical Society photo shows the aftermath of the fire that burned down half of Devon station (car house).
One of our regular readers thinks this photo shows Evanston Avenue (now Broadway) between Devon and Lawrence. “I believe that the streetcar is a Chicago Union Traction car, but it is too far away in the photo to identify. I believe that the view is looking north somewhere in Edgewater.”
CSL Snow Plow F28. Don’s Rail Photos says, “F28, plow, was built by McGuire-Cummings in 1924. It was retired on December 14, 1956.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Don’s Rail Photos says, “E57, sweeper, was built by Russell in 1930. It was retired on March 11, 1959.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
This, and the series of photos that follow, were taken between 1930 and 1932 by George Krambles at the Devon car house, where a lot of very old equipment (including single-truck streetcars) was stored. Since GK was born in 1915, he would have been in high school at this time. CSL often kept obsolete equipment for decades. Some of these cars were used for work service. Another reason for keeping them was their potential sale as assets, in case transit unification came to pass. The young man at left is unidentified. (George Krambles Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)
CSL Sand Car R4 at Clark and Devon, circa 1930-32. Don’s Rail Photos says, “R4, sand car, was rebuilt by Chicago Rys in 1913 as M4. It came from 5569, passenger car. It was renumbered R4 in 1913 and became CSL R4 in 1914. It was retired in 1942.” (George Krambles Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)
Ancient CSL car 2144 at Clark and Devon, c1930-32. The side sign reads, “Base Ball.” (George Krambles Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)
CSL 1142 at Devon car house. Many cars in this series were sold in 1946 for use as temporary housing. I am not sure if this picture was taken around 1930-32 like the few that precede it. (George Krambles Photo, Edward Frank, Jr. Collection)
CSL Supply Car S201. Don’s Rail Photos: “S201, supply car, was built by Chicago City Ry in 1908 as CCRy C45. It was renumbered S201 in 1913 and became CSL S201 in 1914. It was retired on September 27, 1956.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1465 was called a “Bowling Alley” car due to its sideways seating. Don’s Rail Photos says, “1465 was built by CUT in 1900 as CUT 4514. It was rebuilt as 1465 in 1911 and became CSL 1465 in 1914. It was rebuilt as (a) salt car and renumbered AA71 on April 15, 1948. It was retired on August 2, 1951.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
As we near the end of summer here in Chicago, we will leave you with this wintry scene of CSL 1455. Don’s Rail Photos says, “1455 was built by CUT in 1900 as CUT 4504. It was rebuilt as 1455 in 1911 and became CSL 1455 in 1914. It was rebuilt as (a) salt car and renumbered AA67 on April 15, 1948. It was retired on August 17, 1951.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
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