For fans of the North Shore Line interurban, January 21, 1963 will always be a day that will “live in infamy,” to borrow a phrase from Franklin D. Roosevelt, as that was the date of abandonment.
But January 21 is also the day we started this blog, four years ago. We can’t do anything to bring back the NSL, but we can honor its memory going forward, and a lot of other memories besides, in this space.
As far as we are concerned, every day is a day to celebrate the North Shore Line. But today, as we begin our fifth year, we are fortunate to have much NSL material to share. First, courtesy of Jim Huffman, we have nearly 60 images of North Shore Line posters. To these, we have added some additional classic photos from the collections of William Shapotkin.
To round things out, we have some recent photo finds of our own, plus some interesting correspondence from Jeff Marinoff.
Throughout its existence, the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee prided itself on SERVICE. In our own small way, we try to do the same for you and the railfan community.
Thanks to the generosity of our readers, we have already exceeded our goal of raising $436 by the end of this month. To date, we have received $725. We have tried to personally thank everyone who contributed. Unfortunately, a couple of e-mail addresses we were given, along with these donations, appear to be out of date, as our thank you messages were returned by the mail server. So, if you did not receive a thank you note from us, that is probably why, but we are still thankful nonetheless.
It is a fact of life that this blog has run at a deficit since it began. Our goal is to get it to a point where it can be self-sufficient. We lost at least $10k in each of our first two years, and $6k in our third year.
While we have not yet determined the amount of loss for last year, it is expected to have been less than $6k.
It costs real money to bring you many of these classic images. We have already paid our fees for the coming year, and additional donations in excess of that goal will be used to pay for more images that will show up in future posts.
On average, it probably costs about $10 for each image we purchase for this blog. So if you have 50 images in a post, that represents a $500 expenditure, and $1000 for 100 images. Now you can see the challenge, and how beneficial it is when individuals share their material with us.
We also hope to work on another book project this year. The costs of doing the necessary research on our first two volumes are far in excess of the revenue received. But it is possible these books will continue to sell over time, and in the long run, may also eventually reach a break-even point.
So, while we have now met our immediate goal, the need is ongoing throughout the year. Your generous contributions are always appreciated, in whatever amount you choose to give.
You will find links for donations at the end of this post.
North Shore Line Posters
Again, we thank Jim Huffman for sharing these with our readers. There are color variations for a few of the posters. Presumably, these went through more than one printing.
As you can see, many of these iconic posters have little, if anything, to do with actually riding on the North Shore Line. But they were tremendously successful in promoting the North Shore itself, its beauty, charm, and history, along with the idea of easy and convenient travel, resulting in a greater sense of freedom and ultimate satisfaction in life. Now, they are an important part of our history.
North Shore Line Photos
These are from the collections of William Shapotkin:
Jeff Marinoff writes:
Among the several post cards that I’ve added to my collection lately are two awesome Chicago Union Traction Company cards from 1906. Note that car # 4911 is pulling an open trailer. Also, if you zoom in on the rear of car # 4911, you’ll see on the opposite track in the distant background is another car pulling an open trailer car in the other direction.
Also of interest is the wooden roof sign on car # 4911. It reads N. CLARK STREET. The side roll sign on # 4911 reads CLARK – DEVON. The front roll sign reads CLARK ST . Possibly helping to identify the location is the address painted on the window of the building behind car # 4911 which looks like it says 4362. I wonder if this was 4362 North Clark Street. I’m being told that the scene showing # 4911 is in the area of the Devon Station car barn and near the intersection of Clark and Devon. In September 1909, the City of Chicago changed its street numbering system. In the c1906 post card photo, you see the street number 4362. That number was changed in 1909 to 6333 N. Clark, which is about a block south of Devon Avenue, which is 6400 North.
On the card that shows the Chicago Union Traction Company crews in 1906, note that one of the conductors has hung the round metal run number sign on his uniform jacket. A novel place to carry it to his assignment. This post card scene is said to be outside of the Devon Station car barn.
As usual, I am indebted to Walter Keevil for technical info on Chicago Union Traction Company car # 4911.
Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos, plus your research. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago last November, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways
There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.
While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960
Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
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4 thoughts on “Anniversaries”
The 1920s and into the thirties were a golden age for the Insull interurbans and Chicago “L” lines graphic art. I’ve seen various posters over the years, but never so many in one place. I think the North Shore ones alone would be a nucleus for a coffee table art book.
I was blown away by Bill Shapotkin’s photo of CNS&M 756 at Roosevelt Road. Whether deliberate or accidental, the composition is absolutely stunning.
The North Shore Line posters are truly spectacular. I look forward to your next blog post.
Regarding the North Shore Line posters, I purchased a large stock of 4 x 6 photos of these posters at a show awhile ago. I assumed that they were all photo copies of the actual old posters.
But have found out that two of them are not, they are of the art work of a young Brad Cornelius, who is very much still alive.
The two posters are not of the North Shore Line, they are: “Autumn on the North Shore” and “Lake Forest on the North Shore”. Note that the word “Line” is missing on those.
I feel that Brad Cornelius should be credited on those two posters.
Naturally we will give proper attribution, thanks.