A remarkable photograph, this shows a group of early Chicago streetcar conductors and motormen, some displaying the tools of their trade (controller handles and switch irons). I am sure it was a tough job, and they look like a bunch of tough men. While Chicago’s population has always been diverse, integration did not come to their ranks until October 1943, thanks in part to wartime manpower shortages. (And I do mean “manpower,” since the CTA did not hire its first female bus driver until 1974.) I am wondering if this photo shows employees of the Chicago City Railway. If anyone can shed light on this photo, please let us know.
Lately, we have been hard at work on our upcoming book Chicago Trolleys. Meanwhile, new images have been piling up. It’s about time we started sharing them with you. Today’s batch is just the “tip of the iceberg,” so to speak.
The group picture above is just such an image. It came to us by way of a very large 11″ x 14″ negative. This in itself is rather remarkable. It was too big to scan all at once, but necessity is the mother of invention.
I scanned the image in quarters, and then discovered free software from Microsoft that flawlessly “stitched” the four back together. As old as this negative seems to be, it may not be the original. I have a feeling this neg was made from a glass plate.
Glass plate negatives are fragile, and there was some damage to the image, which I corrected using Photoshop. This took many hours of work, but the results speak for themselves. Chances are, this picture was taken between 1895 and 1915.
There are eight million stories in Railfan City.
Here is how the image originally looked, before I spent several hours eliminating the scratch using Photoshop.
The man in the middle not only has pointy shoes, but holds a switch iron.
Note the controller handle.
Perhaps this badge may offer a clue as to which private operator these men may have worked for. One of our readers thinks the badge might say “C & S C,” which could stand for the Calumet and South Chicago Railway Company, which was formed in 1908 through a merger of the South Chicago City Railway Co., and Calumet Electric Street Railway Co. It operated on the far south side of Chicago. In 1914, it became one of the underlying companies that formed the Chicago Surface Lines. Of course, it’s pretty hard to make out. On the other hand, James Fahlstedt writes: “My take on the hat badge is that it reads CCSR. For what it is worth, it is put on the hat with and band or strap rather than fastened directly to the hat with split pins or similar device. The thing that I do not understand is that it is a metal badge. My CCR badge is leather. Could it read CGSR? Another thing I noticed is that there is something on the left side of the badge on the same line as the mystery letters that is totally illegible. Is a puzzlement.” CCSR probably stands for Chicago City Street Railway. Perhaps the mystery has been solved.
CTA PCC 7256 heads south on State Street at Van Buren in the 1950s.
This mid-1950s view of PCC 4406 is at Clark and Birchwood, it having just left Howard Street, north end of Route 22.
CTA trolley bus 9193 on a March 2, 1958 Omnibus Society of America fantrip, at Kedzie Garage. Andre Kristopans: “This is in BACK of Kedzie, facing south. The wire came in off Kedzie between the carhouse and the washhouse, looped around in back and split into the three wired bays.”
CTA Marmon-Herrington trolley bus 9737 heads east at Lawrence and Austin in August 1969. (Gerald H. Landau Photo)
On January 1, 1954, eastbound CTA 1769 turns from Pine onto Lake Street, crossing the Lake Street “L” at grade. Streetcars were replaced by buses on May 30 that same year.
CTA Pullman PCC 4169 at the south end of Route 36 – Broadway-State, near 119th and Morgan, probably in the early 1950s. (Eugene Van Dusen Photo)
Passengers get off CTA trolley bus 9514, which is heading eastbound on Roosevelt at State in April 1964. The Roosevelt Road station on the South Side “L” was closed as of January 1963, when the North Shore Line quit. From 1949-63, NSL had exclusive use as N-S trains were routed through the State Street subway. These tracks were put back into regular service in 1969, with the opening of the Dan Ryan line, but the station was demolished and was not replaced by a new one until 1993, with the opening of the Orange Line.
Roosevelt and State today.
This photo shows the Kilbourn station on the Garfield Park “L” around 1954. By then, the station had been closed, and the stairways removed, in order to reduce running time due to the slow 2.5 mile temporary trackage at ground level east of Sacramento. The two-car train of CTA 4000s is about to cross the Congress Expressway, but the highway does not appear to be open yet. The “L” tracks were higher than normal at this location to cross railroad tracks just west of here. The line was relocated into the expressway median in 1958.
The CRT 42nd Place Yard, the end of the line for the Kenwood “L” branch, probably in the late 1920s.
The Stock Yards “L” branch, looking east to Exchange, as it appeared on June 7, 1927.
The North Side “L”, looking south from Montrose. On the right, you see the ramp leading down to the Buena Yard.
CRT trailer 3237, possibly at Skokie Shops.
CA&E 315 at an unknown location.
Chicago, Aurora & Elgin cars 407 and 432 at the Forest Park terminal in September 1955. CA&E service was cut back to here two years earlier. 407 was a Pullman, built in 1923, while 432 was a 1927 product of the Cincinnati Car Company. Riders could change here “cross platform” for CTA Garfield Park “L” trains.
CTA PCC 4265, a Pullman product, heads north on State at Lake circa 1948, while Alfred Hitchcock’s film Rope plays at the State-Lake Theater. This has since been converted into production facilities for WLS-TV.
Here is a nice side view of CSL 4005 at Kedzie Station (car barn). At this time, the 83 Prewar PCCs were assigned to Route 20 – Madison.
Faced with a manpower shortage during World War II, some transit lines hired female operators (although the Chicago Surface Lines did not). Here, we see Mrs. Cleo Rigby (left) and Mrs. Katherine Tuttle training in North Chicago on June 25, 1943. That would be for the North Shore Line’s city streetcar operations, which were mainly in Waukegan.
A northbound two-car Evanston shuttle train is held up momentarily at Howard in the 1950s, as track work is going on up ahead. The rear car is 1766. Don’s Rail Photos says, “1756 thru 1768 were built by Jewett Car in 1903 as Northwestern Elevated Railway 756 thru 768. They were renumbered 1756 thru 1768 in 1913 and became CRT 1756 thru 1768 in 1923.” Wood cars last ran on Evanston in 1957. Notice that the station is also being painted.
CTA postwar PCC 4404 is heading south, turning from Archer onto Wentworth on June 20, 1958, the last full day of streetcar service in Chicago. This was the last photo of a Chicago streetcar taken by the late Bob Selle.
A close-up of the previous photo shows some evidence of Bondo-type patch work on 4404.
CTA 7051 is southbound at State and Delaware on route 36 Broadway-State in the early 1950s. We ran another picture taken at this location in our post Recent Finds, Part 2 (December 12, 2016), showing a PCC going the other way. (Walter Hulseweder Photo)
The controller car of CTA Red Pullman 144, as it looked on a mid-1950s fantrip. This car is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Chuck Wlodarczyk Photo)
CTA Red Pullman 225 at 77th and Vincennes on a mid-1950s fantrip. This car is preserved at Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine. (Chuck Wlodarczyk Photo)
CTA Red Pullman 445 is on Route 21 – Cermak circa 1950. Behind it, you see the Lakeside Diner and Boulevard Buick, the latter located at 230 E. Cermak. Today, this is near the location of McCormick Place.
CTA Red Pullman 104 is at Cermak and Prairie, east end of Route 21. This was just a few blocks away from Kodak’s Prairie Avenue processing plant, located at 1712 S. Prairie Avenue. Many a railfan’s Kodachrome slides were developed and mounted there, until the facility closed in the mid-1980s. You can read more about it here. The landmark R.R. Donnelley and Sons Co. Calumet Plant, also known as the Lakeside Plant, is at rear. The plant closed in 1993, after Sears discontinued their catalog, and the building is now used as a data center.
CSL “Big” Pullman 183 is eastbound on Roosevelt at Ashland on January 15, 1937, while 5502, an Ashland car, is turning west onto Roosevelt to jog over to Paulina. That’s Immanuel Lutheran Church in the background.
CTA 7238 on State street in the early 1950s. The clock at right belongs to C. D. Peacock jewelers, a Chicago institution since 1837. (Water Hulseweder Photo)
Chicago, South Shore & South Bend car 31 and train at Wilson, Indiana, on an early CERA fantrip (possibly September 20, 1942). Mitch adds, “The photo of the South Shore Line fan trip, 1942 in this episode of “The Trolley Dodger,” appears to be at Power Siding, between Sheridan and the Highway 12 crossing west of Michigan City.”
Here, we see a rare shot of a CSL trolley bus on North Avenue in 1940. While route 72 – North was not converted to trolley bus until July 3, 1949, there was wire between the garage near Cicero Avenue and Narragansett. TBs ran on Narragansett until 1953, when route 86 was combined with the one-mile extension of North between Narragansett and Harlem. This TB is signed for route 76 (Diversey), which used TBs until 1955. The destination sign also says North-Lamon, site of the garage, but the slope of the street would indicate the bus is actually heading west. There is TB wire special work turning off to the right in the background, perhaps indicating that the bus has just left the garage. Andre Kristopans: “I THINK WB about Lavergne, pulling out.” There would be streetcar tracks on this section. Andre again: “There are car tracks. You can barely see a couple of hangers to the right of the bus. North Av is very wide at this point, almost 6 lanes, and TT’s did not share wire.”
North Shore Line wood car 300, during its time as the Central Electric Railfans’ Association club car, probably circa 1939-40.
Don’s Rail Photos says, “300 thru 302 were built by Jewett in 1909 as mainline coaches. As the steel cars arrived, they were downgraded to local and school tripper service. In 1936 they became sleet cutters. In 1939 300 was turned over to the Central Electric Railfans Association as a private car. The ownership remained with the CNS&M, but the maintenance was taken over by CERA. During the war, with many members in service, CERA relinquished control, and the car was scrapped in 1947. 301 and 302 were retired in 1939 and scrapped in 1940.”
Perhaps someone can help us identify the location of car 300, somewhere along the Shore Line Route.
A rear view of two Lehigh Valley Transit ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie “Red Devils” shows how their squared-off ends were not designed for multiple-unit operation. By comparison, car 1030, adapted from Indiana Railroad car 55, had a rounded end and was designed for multiple unit operation. Presumably, this is the Fairview car barn in Allentown. Liberty Bell Limited interurban service ended in 1951.
Jack Bejna writes:
Hi Dave, here’s a few more of my CA&E images. All of these shots were cleaned up with Photoshop.
Here’s a head-on shot of CA&E cars 48 (Stephenson 1902) & 316 (Jewett 1913).
CA&E 30, my shot near the shops circa 1955.
CA&E 18 looking good in this shot.
A train of the first cars with just the top of the old dispatcher tower in the background.
Here is an image of the old tower, just about the only one from this angle.
This is my shot of the new Dispatchers tower, circa 1955.
Here’s one more that I think you’ll like. It looks like CA&E 310 (Hicks 1908) just came out of the paint shop, and boy did they do a nice job!
One more for you that I completed this morning. It’s CA&E 319 (Jewett 1914) heading a line of cars. I got the original from Hicks Car Works, which is the JJ collection. It was a really bad picture and it took about 4 hours to complete.
James Fahlstedt writes:
I just recently discovered your blog and really enjoy it. First of all, I do not know much regarding Chicago traction, but have always been a fan. I love the city, I loved the interurbans (I was fortunate to have ridden all three of the big ones) and I even love the buses. I have made a small purchase of your books and videos and plan to buy more as my finances allow.
Second, I like the way those who know things seem to be willing to share their knowledge. I firmly believe that knowledge is something to be shared, not hidden.
Third, I like that the photos on the blog are of a sufficient resolution that they can actually be seen and enjoyed.
Anyway, if I know anything appropriate, I will pitch in.
Great, thanks! Glad you like the site.
Eric Miller writes:
I am looking for a photographer named C. Scholes to return some photo prints.
We posted a 1952 photo by a C. R. Scholes in One Good Turn (January 20, 2017). That’s all the information we have. Perhaps one of our readers can help further, thanks.
Mr. Miller replies:
That would be great!
Here are some shots of “Betty” making the rounds in Uptown, Dallas for you.
(Editor’s note: This is the the McKinney Avenue trolley, aka the M-Line.)
Scans of several new publications have been added to our E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story, available in our Online Store. These include:
Surface Service (CSL employee magazine), February 1942, March 1942, July 1943, June 1945, and June 1946
CTA brochure advertising National Transportation Week, May 1960
Hi-res scan of 1957 CTA Annual Report
Gorilla My Dreams
While this isn’t transit related, I figured our readers might enjoy seeing these pictures, which show a publicity float for the 1949 film Mighty Joe Young. This was a sort-of remake of King Kong, which reunited much of the same creative team involved with the 1933 original, including Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Robert Armstrong. Ruth Rose, Marcel Delgado, and Willis O’Brien. If anyone knows where this parade may have taken place, please let me know.
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