CRT/CTA Met car 2865, a Douglas Park local on the Loop “L”. (George Trapp Collection)
Today, we offer a generous selection of Chicago rapid transit photos, mainly from the collections of George Trapp. We thank him for his continued generosity in sharing these with our readers.
There will be additional installments in this series. Here, we have concentrated on the Garfield Park and Westchester branches. We have supplemented George Trapp’s photos with a few from our own collections.
As always, if you have anything interesting to add to the discussion, you can either leave a comment here on this post, or contact us directly at:
PS- To find earlier posts in our series, just type “Chicago rapid transit” in the search window at the top of the page. We featured many additional pictures of the Westchester branch in a previous post.
Here, we have the old four-track Canal Street station on the Met “L” main line, which served Union Station. We are looking east. The tracks took a jog slightly to the north at this point. Behind the station, tracks continued straight east to the old Wells Street terminal, with a separate connection to the Loop “L”. This station continued in use until June 22, 1958 and therefore was not affected by expressway construction. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
We are at the east end of the Van Buren trackage, which connected to the old “L” structure at Aberdeen (1100 W.). That is the Racine station at left. Service on a portion of the old “L” would have continued until the Spring 1954, until a new connection was built to allow Douglas Park trains to access the Loop via the Lake Street “L”. We are looking west. This area is now occupied by the Eisenhower Expressway. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
A mid-1950s view of the CTA’s Van Buren Street temporary alignment. We are facing west, most likely at Racine (1200 W.). The signals at each intersection made trains come to a complete stop before crossing. That may be a 1956 Chevrolet at right. (George Trapp Collection)
In the mid-1950s, a two-car train of flat door 6000s heads west at Paulina (1700 W.), about to cross under tracks now used by the CTA’s Pink Line. The building with the tower is located at 333 S. Ashland. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Workers United Hall at 333 S. Ashland Avenue, was built in 1928, and designed by Walter Ahlschlager. Home of the Chicago Joint Board of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, which became part of a growing group of other labor organizations who established offices in the neighborhood, known as Union Row. The building became, and remained, the most prominent union hall structure in the area, which grew to include over 30 labor unions and locals by the 1950s.
Marshfield Junction, looking east. The Logan Square/Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, and Douglas Park branches converged here onto the Met main line. (George Trapp Collection)
This is a Logan Square branch station along Paulina Street, looking north. It cannot be Marshfield, since the tracks went off from that point via a curve. In the background, we see the bridge over the Milwaukee Road and Chicago & North Western tracks. This bridge is still there, used for signals. The old Lake Transfer station is just south of the bridge. Therefore, by a process of elimination, I’d say this is most likely the old Madison Street station. There is no station at this location now (although some would like to see one built, to serve the nearby United Center), but the tracks are still in place for use by the CTA Pink Line. (George Trapp Collection)
A blow-up of the previous picture shows Lake Transfer station in the distance. This is where the Met “L” along Paulina crossed over the Lake Street line, before continuing north over the bridge shown in the background. The tracks north of Lake were removed in 1964, but the bridge was kept in place for use by signals on the Milwaukee Road and C&NW tracks below. (George Trapp Collection)
The same bridge today.
This map shows how the Douglas Park “L” was rerouted as of April 4, 1954. The old routing brought trains into the Loop via the Mat main line (Garfield branch on this map). In September 1953, the Garfield trains themselves were using a 2.5m temporary right-of-way in the south half of Van Buren Street. In order to facilitate the removal of that portion of “L” structure that remained between Paulina and Racine, a new north-south span was built crossing the expressway footprint (there should be a straight line on this map, but there isn’t), allowing Douglas trains to continue north along Paulina, to a new connection with the Lake Street “L”. That was a connection which had not previously existed, since previously the only service on these tracks (Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains, which stopped using these tracks in February 1951) crossed over the Lake Street “L”. As it turns out, this is the same route now followed by today’s CTA Pink Line (which replaced Douglas) after a hiatus of more than 50 years.
This 1954 picture, taken from Marshfield Junction, shows the Douglas Park “L” in transition. The 6000s in the foreground are on the old Met “L” alignment, while the train in the background is on a new portion of structure, allowing a direct connection to the Logan Square portion to the north. In turn, a new connection was built allowing Douglas trains to proceed downtown over the Lake Street “L”, which is the alignment now used once again by today’s CTA Pink Line. Andre Kristopans: “In the shot of old and new at Marshfield Jct, the 6000 is a regular Douglas train, while the woods on the connector are a work train. There was never service simultaneously on both routings.”
A Douglas Park train crosses the Van Buren right-of-way near Paulina (1700 W.). We are facing east. This may be circa 1954, as the old “L” structure is still in place east of here. It could not be torn down as long as Douglas Park trains needed it to access the Loop. Notice how one of the Garfield tracks makes a dog-leg around the “L” supports.
A current view. The Paulina Connector has been rebuilt and is now part of today’s Pink Line.
Here is an example where even the CTA got it wrong with this caption, taken from a 1950s employee publication. This is not the center median strip for the Congress Expressway. It actually shows the CTA temporary right-of-way on Van Buren under construction circa 1952. The grade level had to be lowered at this point in order to clear the C&NW/PRR tracks, and this was done in the middle of the street, leaving only a small lane for other traffic to the north. There was also a small lane to the south, presumably to provide easy access to the construction site on both sides of the tracks. The railroad bridge was retained and is still in use today, but new supports were built under the south portion, as you will see in contemporary pictures. The actual expressway median at this point is located where the Garfield Park “L” structure is at left. That is why it was necessary to build a temporary alignment for about 2.5 miles of the route. We are looking west.
The Van Buren trackage at Rockwell, showing the underpass trains used to clear the C&NW/PRR trackage. Notice how here, the CTA tracks are in the middle of Van Buren, instead of simply taking up the south half. This permitted a narrow lane on each side of the “L”. To the south, this allowed construction workers access to both sides of the railroad embankment. We are looking east. (George Trapp Collection)
The same location today.
A close-up of the railroad bridge at about 2600 W. Van Buren, showing how the supports on one side had to be replaced.
This September 1953 view of the new Van Buren trackage looks east from (I think) California Avenue (2800 W.). The photo caption reads, “CTA Elevated tracks on surface (due to) construction (of the) Congress St. expressway. At time of photo trains still using El structure at right of picture.”
I am not sure why the motorman of this 1951 train of CA&E woods is gesturing. Perhaps he is waving at the photographers below. My guess is this picture was taken at the Sacramento curve. If this was the Halsted curve, I would expect the buildings to be larger.
In this late 1950s photo, we see the Garfield Park “L” crossing the Congress Expressway at Sacramento. We are looking to the south. The “L” continued to use the old alignment in those places where it was not directly in the expressway footprint. Between Sacramento (3000 W.) and Kostner (4400 W.), the “L” actually ran to the south of the expressway. At Kostner, the “L” again crossed the highway, this time at an angle, taking it to the north. North of this picture location would have been the Sacramento curve and a ramp connection to the Van Buren trackage. Andre Kristopans adds, “The shot at Sacramento also shows how different things were then. Note there are pilings holding up the L structure BETWEEN expressway lanes. You couldn’t imagine doing that today, but in the 1950’s there was much more of a tendency to say if you weren’t watching and hit something, it was your fault, not the fault of what you hit.” (George Trapp Collection)
No, these two cars are not going downhill. But if you level out the picture, you can’t see the sign identifying this as the Pulaski Road station on the Garfield Park “L”. Based on the sign on this car, I would say the train is heading west. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Now we are on the level. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
I don’t know the exact location of this westbound Garfield Park train. But my gut instinct is this was taken at the same general location as the previous photo, which would make it the east end of the Pulaski station. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CRT 4318 and 2190, running in express service along the Garfield Park “L”. Not sure which station this is. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
A view of the Laramie Yard, looking east from the walkway that allowed you to cross over between platforms. Much of this area is now occupied by Michelle Clark Magnet High School, and the area to the right of the picture is taken up by the Eisenhower (formerly Congress) Expressway. Note one of the four “Doodlebugs” in the yard. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Ciollection)
You hardly ever see any pictures of the ramp that brought the Garfield line from grade level to the “L” structure between Laramie and Cicero. This is an enlargement of the previous picture. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Ciollection)
The old ground-level Laramie station on the Garfield Park “L”. The woman on the platform may be using the scale (shown in another picture taken at this station) to weigh herself. These generally cost a penny. On some of these, if you could successfully guess your weight, you got your penny back. We are looking east. The “L” went up a ramp from here to reach the Cicero station. The water tank at right shows up in a lot of these pictures, and is often useful in telling which way we are facing. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
An enlargement of the previous photo. Is this the same penny scale shown on the platform in the next picture?
CRT 2896 is westbound at Laramie. You can plainly see the penny scale on the platform. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CRT 2721was a tool car, shown here at the Laramie Yards on the Garfield Park branch. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “2701 thru 2756 were built by Barney & Smith in 1895 as M-WSER 701 thru 756. In 1913 they were renumbered 2701 thru 2756 and in 1923 they became CRT 2701 thru 2756. 2721 was rebuilt in 1921.” (George Trapp Collection)
At first, I had difficulty determining this location, but soon figured out that the station at rear is Laramie on the old Garfield Park “L”. I believe we are looking east from Lockwood, where there was a grade crossing. The bulk of the yard was to the east of Laramie, although there were storage tracks for some cars west of Laramie, such as a small area that was once used for mid-day storage of CA&E trains. On the left of the picture, we see CTA buses along Harrison, and the gas station was located at the intersection of Harrison and Laramie. The Eisenhower Expressway is now to the right of this picture. The growth along some of these tracks would seem to indicate they were not being used much for storage by the time this picture was taken in the 1950s. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
A close-up of the previous picture, showing the intersection of Laramie and Harrison. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Laramie and Harrison today. We are looking north.
I believe this photo shows the view looking west from Oak Park Avenue along the old Garfield Park “L”. The B&OCT tracks were to the south of the “L”, and we can even see a steam locomotive on a siding in the distance, serving businesses to the south. The eastbound and westbound “L” platforms here were on different sides of Oak Park Avenue. In the distance, we can see the next station west at Home Avenue. This is now the location of the Eisenhower Expressway, and all these tracks are now on the south side of the highway at this location, in an open cut. The only freight siding still in use along here is the Ferrara Pan Candy Company in Forest Park, about a mile west of here. (George Trapp Collection)
A close-up of the previous picture, showing a steam locomotive coming off a siding on the B&OCT. (George Trapp Collection)
There isn’t a lot of freight traffic on the B&OCT these days, but I did catch this short train near the Oak Park CTA station on June 30, 2016.
(Photo by David Sadowski)
The CTA’s Garfield Park “L” trains crossed the B&OCT freight tracks at grade between Harlem Avenue and DesPlaines in Forest Park. We are looking west, and the large “gas holder” tank at left was a local landmark for many years. Now, these tracks are grade separated along the Eisenhower Expressway right-of-way. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
The CTA Blue Line and B&OCT cross each other today at more or less the same location they did before the expressway was built, but their tracks are grade separated. The CTA goes under the freight line, then up a ramp to cross over the highway and DesPlaines Avenue before reaching the terminal.
This photo shows an eastbound two-car Met “L” train at the old DesPlaines Avenue station, which was actually owned by the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin. The station was on the east side of the street, in an area now occupied by the Eisenhower Expressway. (George Trapp Collection)
More or less the same location today. The old DesPlaines station would be somewhere in today’s highway, off to the right. Today’s Blue Line crosses the highway and goes off a bit to the north to its present-day terminal. West of here, the expressway crosses over the DesPlaines River using an expanded version of the old Chicago, Aurora & Elgin interurban right-of-way. As part of construction, the CA&E trackage was moved slightly to the north, and work was completed by 1959 but the new tracks were never used.
This picture may show where the Westchester branch diverged from the CA&E main line (here running parallel to the CGW) in Bellwood. If so, we are looking east. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
mdfranklinnascar writes: “The white house in the background is still there at 3510 St Paul Ave, Bellwood.”
The CRT Westchester branch at Roosevelt Road, circa 1929-1930. Service along this line opened in 1926, and when the line was extended, local officials insisted that tracks not cross Roosevelt at grade, thereby necessitating this grade separation project. The platform at left was later moved into the open cut, although the original station house was retained. Service to Mannheim began in 1930. The line was abandoned in 1951. We are looking north. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
In this April 28, 1929 view, a steam shovel is digging out an underpass for Westchester trains at the Roosevelt Road station. We are looking north. (George Trapp Collection)
Westchester trains in storage at the Roosevelt end of the line, circa 1929. (George Trapp Collection)
The CRT Westchester branch, just south of the Roosevelt Road underpass. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
This appears to show the CRT Westchester right of way, looking south from Roosevelt Road, where the line extension to Mannheim and 22nd was single track. (George Trapp Collection)
Westchester trains changing ends south of the Roosevelt Road station. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Since this two-car train of 4000s is using overhead wire and not third rail, this appears to be a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip along the CA&E’s Mt. Carmel Branch on February 12, 1939. If so, one of the two cars used was 4317. (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CTA experimental high-speed cars 6129-6130 in the “Morgan middle” tracks on the Congress line circa 1960. Fans referred to the cars in this paint scheme as “circus wagons.” (George Trapp Collection)
CTA high-speed cars 1-3 and 6129-6130 on a test run along the Congress line, in the early 1960s. (George Trapp Collection)
CTA 6698 at DesPlaines Avenue terminal in June 1963. The track at right, where an old wooden “L” car is being used as an office, was originally intended for use by CA&E trains, if service could have resumed in 1959. (George Trapp Photo)
DesPlaines Avenue in June 1963. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA 6698 at DesPlaines Avenue terminal in June 1963. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA single-car unit 8 at Logan Square terminal in the Fall of 1963. (George Trapp Photo)
In this 1963 view at Logan Square, we see cars in the 6551-6600 series at left, in fresh paint, next to others from the 6601-6670 series at right in their original paint. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA 6705-6706 at Logan Square in 1963. (George Trapp Photo)
This picture is not from the George Trapp Collection, but we thought it would fit in well with the others here nonetheless:
A two-car Met “L” train crosses the Chicago River just west of the Loop in July 1951.
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