This famous photo shows Tower 18 at Lake and Wells in 1917, a very busy intersection indeed. We are looking north along Wells. In 1969, the tower was torn down and replaced in a slightly different location, so that Lake Street trains could continue directly east instead of having to turn south on Wells. This was done to facilitate pairing the Lake line with the new Dan Ryan service. (George Trapp collection)
I apologize for the 16-day gap since our last post, but I recently worked 15 straight days as an election judge. It usually takes me a while to recover when I do this. On the other hand, I have friends who say it will take them the next four years to recover from this election, so I should consider myself fortunate.
Today we have another generous selection of Chicago rapid transit photos from the collections of George Trapp. We thank him again for sharing these with our readers.
Today, we are mainly featuring the South Side “L”, used by today’s CTA Green Line, plus Howard Street on the North side, and the Niles Center/Skokie branch, today’s Yellow Line.
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.
CTA hi-speed 6129 at Chicago Avenue on the Ravenswood (today’s Brown Line) in 1961. (Pete Busack Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CTA high-speeds 32 and 4 at Kimball on the Ravenswood in 1961. (Pete Busack Photo, George Trapp Collection)
CTA high-speed 3 at Kimball in 1961. (Pete Busack Photo, George Trapp Collection)
This look like the Linden Yard in Wilmette to me. The date is 1957-58. George Trapp: “Linden Yard but looking North toward Linden Station.” (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection) This and the other photos taken at the same time are “Kodachrome prints” (see the next picture).
The phrase “Kodachrome print” has gone by the wayside. But back in the old days, there were two different ways to make color prints– a Type C print from a negative, and a Type R print from a slide. You could also have a C print made from a slide by way of an internegative, which somewhat reduced the inevitable buildup in contrast printing direct, but also sacrificed some sharpness. Scanning and modern color printing has replaced much of this.
A pair of flat-door 6000s at Howard Yard circa 1957-58. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Howard Yard, 1957-58. This was taken at the same time as the previous photo. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
THe view looking north from the transfer bridge at Howard in 1957-58. The tracks going to the north are Evanston; at left, the North Shore Line’s Skokie Valley Route, site of today’s Yellow Line. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
In response to demands that the struggling Chicago Rapid Transit Company replace their aging fleet of wooden cars with modern ones, the company had a mock-up built for a proposed 5000-series car at Skokie Shops. This shows some influence from New York City cars. The 5001-5004 articulated cars that were eventually built in 1947-48 were patterned after the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit “Bluebirds,” but styling from this mock-up does seem to be reflected in the 6000s that followed in 1950. (George Trapp Collection)
CRT gate car 2509, shown here coupled to 4395, is signed for Westchester, so this may be Laramie Yard on the Garfield Park “L”. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
A Niles Center car at Main Street in Skokie. (George Trapp Collection)
When the Niles Center branch ran (1925-1948), Chicago’s rapid transit lines depended on a lot of walk-in riders from the neighborhoods. Unfortunately, large parts of Skokie were not built up until after World War II. (George Trapp Collection)
CRT 1804, shown here at Crawford, has just changed over from overhead wire to third rail on its inbound journey. George Trapp: “This car, built by A. C. F., was originally a trailer as were all the cars from 1789-1815. These cars are quite similar to the 1769-1788 built by Pullman in 1909.” (George Trapp Collection)
CRT 1807 in the pocket track at Dempster, northern end of the Niles Center branch. (George Trapp Collection)
A train of CRT 4000s on the North Shore Line. (George Trapp Collection)
The north end of Howard Yard in CRT days. (George Trapp Collection)
The north end of Howard Yard in CRT days. George Trapp: “Note cars 1776 and 1779, which head up the two trains at right. Built by Pullman in 1909, these were the last wooden cars built new in Chicago.” (George Trapp Collection)
Construction at Skokie Shops. By comparing this photo to a similar one on Graham Garfield’s web site, we can date this to about 1930. George Trapp: “Construction at Skokie (Niles Center at time of photo) is late 1920’s or early 1930’s. Wood cars at right are in CRT Green and Orange scheme.” (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
The view looking north from Howard Street. George Trapp dates this to the “late 1920’s – 1930’s.” (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
The Ravenswood terminal at Lawrence and Kimball in CRT days. (George Trapp Collection)
CTA high-speed car 4, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1960, at Skokie Shops in December 1962. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA 29 outbound from Howard on the new Skokie Swift in 1964. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA high-speed car 2 at Skokie Shops in June 1962. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA car 4 near Howard in 1964. (George Trapp Photo)
CTA car 2 near Howard in 1964. (George Trapp Photo)
CRT 4320 at Skokie Shops, freshly repainted. George Trapp: “CRT 4320 not CTA, car is freshly painted in CRT Green and Orange and is a Met assigned car note position of safety springs and Van Dorn coupler.” Comparison with a similar photograph dates this one to 1937. (Allen T. Zagel Photo, George Trapp Collection)
Gate cars at Howard. (George Trapp Collection)
A CTA single car unit (28) at Howard on the Evanston shuttle. (Lou Gerard Photo, George Trapp Collection)
George Trapp: “Car 2788 is probably at 54th Avenue yard on Douglas Park branch as that is what rear side sign says.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
An old postcard view of the Wells Street bridge over the Chicago River. I assume we are looking north. The clock tower is part of the old Chicago & North Western station. It would be nice to see this one in color. (George Trapp Collection)
Metropolitan Elevated Railway car 800 heads up a train in the early 1900s at the old Glenwood amusement park in Batavia on the Aurora, Elgin & Chicago (later the CA&E). That’s the branch’s large powerhouse in the background. Circa 1960, this was considered (but rejected) as the new home for the fledgling Illinois Electric Railway Museum. (George Trapp Collection)
Unlike this one, most 4000-series “L” cars did not have giant thumbprints on them. So, either the Cardiff Giant has paid a visit, or someone put their thumb onto a wet print or negative. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
This photo of two gate cars on the Loop “L” is a bit scratchy, but I think I recognize the Insurance Exchange Building at right, which would make this the Wells leg of the Loop, looking north. (George Trapp Collection)
The South Side “L” crossing Garfield Boulevard (55th), circa the 1920s. (George Trapp Collection)
CRT gate car 50. Don’s Rail Photos says, “50 was built by Jackson & Sharpe in 1892 as SSRT 50. It became CERy 50 in 1913 and CRT 50 in 1923. It was rebuilt as S2 in 1939.” (George Trapp Collection)
CRT 4265 heads up a northbound train going into the State Street subway not far south of Roosevelt Road. It is signed as going to both Howard and Skokie. This picture must have been taken between 1943 and 1948. (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
61st Street on the South Side “L”. (George Trapp Collection)
M. E. says this is “the view facing west at Indiana, again while the Kenwood line was a through line.” George Trapp: “The center-door steel car is a loop-bound Kenwood train, shown at the junction with the main South Side “L”. The 4-car train is a north-south through train. The wood train about to cross in front of the Kenwood train is probably a Loop-bound Englewood train.” The tracks at right were used for freight. This photo was taken from the roof of the building shown on the left of the next picture that follows. 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 Collection)
I thought perhaps this was a Stock Yards train, but close examination of the sign seems to indicate it’s a Kenwood instead. If you zoom in, you can also see freight tracks at left, which paralleled the Kenwood line on an embankment. If so, we are looking east from where the Kenwood branch met the South Side main line near Indiana Avenue. (George Trapp Collection)
An enlargement of the previous photo, showing the Kenwood right-of-way adjacent to freight tracks on an embankment. I am not sure which movie theater that is in the background– the only Park Theater I know of was located at Lake and Austin. This picture was probably taken in Kenwood shuttle days on the CTA (1949-1957), since there is only the one track connecting it with the main line. Two tracks were visible in the earlier picture taken from the roof of a nearby building. Chris Cole adds, “The Park Theater is listed in Cinema Treasures at 3955 S King Dr. That matches the location in the picture.”
The facade of the old Park Theater, located at 3955 S. Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. Drive, is still there, next to the abandoned embankment that once housed the Kenwood “L”.
M. E. writes: “The sign says Kenwood to Indiana Ave., which was the shuttle service.”
We are looking east from the Indiana Avenue station. Off in the distance, more or less straight ahead, is the Kenwood branch of the “L”. The north-south main line heads off to the right (south) at this point, and Stock Yards service would go behind us to the west. M. E. adds: “The caption also says Stock Yards service is behind the photographer. It would be more accurate to say the Stock Yards L used the south side of the south platform, which is visible in the picture. From there the Stock Yards L headed west (behind the photographer) to Halsted, then into the stock yards. This picture was taken while the Kenwood line was still a through line into the Loop (and possibly north to Wilson). The same view after the Kenwood line was cut back to a shuttle is in photo dave408.” George Trapp adds: “straight ahead with jog is the Kenwood Branch, which shared embankment with Chicago Junction Ry.” (George Trapp Collection)
David Vartanoff noticed that this Chicago Blues LP features a cover shot of the “L”, taken where Kenwood branched off from the main line.
61st Street on the South side “L”. (George Trapp Collection)
George Trapp: “The pair of South Side gate cars are at Lake between State and Wabash on a Wilson Ave. Local, probably originating on the Kenwood Branch.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo, George Trapp Collection)
This old photo shows South Side Rapid Transit car 131 at 63rd Street in 1899. (George Trapp Collection)
South Side Rapid Transit car 139 rounding the curve at Harrison and State, probably in the late 1890s. George Foelschow: “The photo of South Side car 139 on the Harrison curve April 16, 1898 appears on page 35 of CERA B-131, authored by Bruce Moffat. Multiple-unit inventor Frank Sprague may be at the controls, since he is pictured on the following page the next day on an M-U test at 61st Street yard. These tests presaged the steam to electric conversion on the South Side “L”.” (George Trapp Collection)
It is not widely known, but during its first few years, the South side “L” was powered by steam. This picture was taken at Indiana Avenue in the 1890s. (George Trapp Collection)
Finally, here are a few more pictures from a 4000s fantrip on the Skokie Swift in the late 1970s or early 1980s:
(George Trapp Photo)
(George Trapp Photo)
(George Trapp Photo)
(George Trapp Photo)
(George Trapp Photo)
(George Trapp Photo)
Adam Platt from Minneapolis writes:
Hello David… very much enjoy the blog and look forward to your posts.
A couple of notes regarding the current post.
—Re Kenwood shuttle–The Park theater at 40th and Grand Blvd opened as the Grand Oak, a vaudeville house, but became the Park during the period 1937-1958.
—The single unit at Howard NB on Evanston shuttle is car 28. Throughout the late 1960s and 70s, the car assignments on Evanston (still hard to think of it as the Purple Line) were single units 27, 28, 39-50. I practically lived on these cars growing up in east Wilmette. Later the CTA moved single units 5-22 and 31-38 from the Ravenswood to Linden and they operated in rush hour Evanston Express service, but I believe lacking fireboxes, they did not run in shuttle service.
1-4 were retired early, though I remember riding 4 on Skokie in the 1970s, in normal green/white CTA paint, though service there was held down mostly by cars 23-26, 29-30, which had pan trolleys, with doodlebugs 51-54 running in rush hour. Ultimately all 5-50 finished their lives on Evanston, I believe, though perhaps the Skokie cars migrated straight to the scrapper.
The Evanston shuttle operation was really one of the most interesting in the system because it ran one-man with the motorman collecting fares from many of the low volume Evanston stations until approx 1980. And notably, these motormen managed to collect fares, operate the doors, and run the line faster than most current CTA one-man operators. And Evanston ran one-man all but roughly 35 hours a week, which is amazing when you consider today’s volumes, though I think there are half as many off peak runs on Evanston than there were back in single unit days. I recall 4 cars typically active at once (but don’t hold me to it). Of course, some stations had agents in rush hours, some in middays. I do believe around 1980 CTA went to mostly two-car trains on Evanston shuttle and this unique operation was history.
And of course after I sent this I discovered that all the 5-50 cars ended their life running infrequently on weekends on the Blue Line, as the CTA could not retire them due to the constraints of a federally funded rehab.
Stephen M. Scalzo, In Memoriam
We are shocked by the news that long-time railfan historian Stephen M. Scalzo has died at the age of 73. His family has graciously shared the notice they have prepared with us. You can read it here.
Steve was a long-time member of the Chicagotransit Yahoo discussion group, and had a background as a railfan journalist and historian going back more than 50 years. He will be sorely missed by all of us.
In the first few days of November, we passed last year’s total of 107,460 page views, even though there have been fewer posts (57 vs. 108). This year’s posts, on the other hand, are longer and contain more pictures. Our current total of 218,332 page views in less than two years now exceeds that of the previous blog we worked on, and we have done this in a shorter period of time.
We must be doing something right, eh?
New Book Project
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