CTA 3141 at Franklin and Lake on October 19, 1952.
Friday the 13th may be your lucky day, as today’s post features Chicago streetcar pictures taken by the late Bill Hoffman, kindly shared by Jeffrey L. Wien and the Wien-Criss Archive. Mr. Hoffman was an avid photographer, and captured many unique scenes that other photographers missed.
These pictures, nearly all from the early 1950s, reflect a time when streetcars were fast disappearing from Chicago’s streets. We hope that you will enjoy them.
While in many cases, it is not possible to know what sort of equipment photographers used 60 or more years ago, I do know that Bill Hoffman used a 1950s Leica IIIg camera, which used screw-mount lenses. By happenstance, I briefly ended up with the camera after his unfortunate passing in the 1980s.
Bob Selle used Ansco black-and-white size 616 roll film for the shots featured today. This was a Kodak adaptation of 116, where the film was the same size, but the spool was different. That suggests he was using a Kodak folding camera. These are rather large negatives, at least 4x larger than 35mm, which is one reason they are very sharp and detailed.
We also have some previously unpublished North Shore Line photos taken in January 1963 by Robert Ness, and some recent finds of our own. We thank all our contributors.
PS- As always, if you have useful information to add, regarding any of these photographs, don’t hesitate to write us. You can contact us directly, using the e-mail address given at the end of this post, or by leaving us a Comment. When referencing individual photos, use the image number, which can be found by hovering your mouse over the picture. For example, the first image in this post is called pic167. We look forward to hearing from you.
Hoffman Photos From the Wien-Criss Archive:
Jeff Wien notes, “Most if not all of these slides were taken by Bill.”
CTA 531 at Clinton and Lake, October 17, 1950.
CTA one-man car 6217 at 71st and Western on May 28, 1950.
CTA one-man car 3318 at 71st and California on May 28, 1950.
CTA 7271 at 63rd and Linder on November 7, 1952.
CTA 7010 and bus 3677 at 63rd Place and Narragansett on July 1, 1951.
CTA 141 is at 63rd and Western on May 20, 1953.
CTA 653 and 685 pass at 63rd and Western on May 20, 1953.
CTA 7011 at 63rd and Western on June 4, 1950.
CTA 452 at 63rd Place and Narragansett on May 19, 1953.
CTA 4023 on 64th and Stony Island on July 1, 1951.
CTA 7016 on 63rd at Maplewood on May 6, 1951.
CTA 7012 is westbound on private right of way on 63rd Place and Mobile on August 13, 1950.
CTA 4021 is at 63rd and Linder on May 6, 1951. This car is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.
CTA trolley bus 234 is at 51st and Campbell on June 12, 1950, where it appears streetcar tracks are being removed from the pavement.
CTA trolley bus 225 at 51st and Calumet on July 3, 1950, on the 51st-55th line.
CTA 795 at 47th and Halsted on October 31, 1950.
CTA 695 is eastbound on Roosevelt at State on October 29, 1950.
CTA 337 on the Museum Loop on May 30, 1951. This was an extension of the Roosevelt Road streetcar line, built for the 1933-34 World’s Fair, and served the Field Museum and Soldier Field.
CTA 187 at Roosevelt and Clinton on May 30, 1950. Note the safety island.
CTA one-man car 3200 on the Museum Loop on October 26, 1952.
CTA 436 is on Roosevelt east of Wabash on October 29, 1950.
CTA 1724 is on Ogden at Ashland Boulevard on October 29, 1950.
CTA 1743 is descending into the Washington Street tunnel under the Chicago River on June 27, 1950.
CTA one-man car 1767 is on Ogden at Van Buren on October 29, 1950.
CTA one-man car 1746 is on Ogden at Van Buren on October 29, 1950.
CSL 949 is southbound, coming out of the LaSalle Street tunnel under the Chicago River on September 6, 1939.
The Washington Street river tunnel at Wacker on May 21, 1951.
CTA 532 on the Madison Street bridge, on Route 56 – Milwaukee Avenue.
CTA 786 at Clinton and Van Buren in April 1952.
CTA 567 at Milwaukee and Armitage on October 18, 1950.
Washington and Wells on October 17, 1950.
CTA one-man car 3175 at Randolph and Franklin on October 19, 1952.
CTA 3163 at Lake and Pine (on the north side of the Chicago & North Western viaduct) on May 9, 1954. My understanding is the tracks are finally being removed under this viaduct, 65 years after the end of streetcar service.
CTA 1627 at Randolph and Franklin on June 30, 1949.
CTA one-man car 1759 at Randolph and Franklin on June 14, 1953.
CTA 3163 on Lake Street just west of Laramie May 9, 1954. Nearby, the Lake Street “L” descended a ramp, and then ran at ground level all the way to the end of the line in Forest Park, just west of Harlem Avenue.
CTA 1724 on Lake Street at Ashland on October 20, 1953, running under the Lake Street “L”.
CTA 422 at Kedzie and 47th on May 13, 1954.
CTA 118 on Kedzie at 34th on May 8, 1953, while some track work was being done.
CTA 205 at Kedzie and Van Buren on May 24, 1954.
Kedzie and 34th on May 14, 1950.
CTA 1735 on Kedzie near the Douglas Park “L” (just north of Cermak Road) on May 28, 1954.
CTA 207 is at Kedzie and Jackson on April 19, 1951.
CTA 128 is on Kedzie at the Garfield Park “L” on August 2, 1953. A couple of trolley buses are also visible.
CTA 330 and others are at the Kedzie and Van Buren car barn (station) on March 13, 1951.
CTA 446 at Kedzie and 34th on March 13, 1951.
CTA 445 at Kedzie and 35th on June 13, 1950.
CTA 397 at Kedzie and 66th Place on May 13, 1954.
CTA 362 at Kedzie and 34th on October 2, 1953.
CTA 876 at Indiana Avenue and 51st Street on September 4, 1950.
CTA 1001 at Wells and Hubbard on May 14, 1950.
CTA 277 at State and Wacker in March 1951.
CTA 1711 at State and Wacker on July 9, 1950.
CTA 1674 on Van Buren at Des Plaines on May 14, 1950.
CTA 338 on the State Street bridge, then just a year old, on November 6, 1950.
CTA one-man car 1773 on Cermak and Lumber on May 9, 1954.
CTA 1765 at Cermak and Loomis on May 9, 1954.
CTA 1771 at Cermak and Western on September 24, 1952.
CSL 473 at Burnham Park and the Lakefront, east end of Route 21 – Cermak, some time prior to 1948.
CTA 1755 on Cermak at the Belt Railway on July 9, 1950.
CTA 1740 at Cermak and Western on September 24, 1952.
CTA 709 at 26th, Blue Island, and Western on May 16, 1950.
CTA 723 at Clinton and Harrison on July 11, 1950.
CTA 720 at Blue Island and Harrison on May 16, 1950.
A Leica IIIg camera,. The last Leica to use screw-mount lenses, this model was introduced in 1957.
1963 North Shore Line Fantrip
Robert Ness writes:
I took these pictures as a 15 year old on the last North Shore CERA fantrip on Jan 13, 1963, which covered the main line to Milwaukee and the Mundelein branch. The fare was $7.50 which was steep for a teenager. I grew up in Skokie three blocks from the old Oakton Street Rapid Transit station, and spent many hours riding my bike up to Dempster station for the traction action there. I also witnessed many freight movements of coal interchanged from the C&NW Mayfair branch at Oakton Street.
The North Shore Line has always been my favorite railroad and of course, in retrospect, I wish I had taken more pictures.
We thank Mr. Ness for sharing these pictures with our readers. By happenstance, we also found a copy of the itinerary for that trip.
My attempt at a panned shot.
Siding near Northbrook, waiting for a scheduled train.
Mundelein branch north of the Illinois Tollway.
North of Racine.
North of Racine.
5th Street in Milwaukee.
Between 5th and 6th Streets in Milwaukee.
We have run various other pictures showing the construction of the bridge at Halsted over what is now the Eisenhower (formerly Congress) Expressway, but not this one. It shows a Pullman-uilt CTA PCC, operating on Route 8, using the shoo-fly around the bridge construction site. The bridge was finished by 1953, so my guess would be this picture is circa 1952. The view looks to the southeast from the nearby Garfield Park “L” station, which was not directly in the expressway footprint, and remained open until 1958.
The caption I received with this North Shore Line negative reads, “Single car Skokie (Valley) inbound 1950s Chicago Limited, at a platform on embankment looking up.”
The caption on this Bob Selle negative reads, “CERA trip, Sunday morning August 8, 1954. Front view– Chicago Aurora & Elgin special #310. Secong photo stop on Mt. Carmel branch.”
For this negative, photographer Bob Selle wrote, “CERA fan trip, Sunday afternoon, august 8, 1954. Chicago Aurora & Elgin cars 406 and 418, Aurora, Illinois. (#406 our special.)” The off-street terminal here was put into service at the end of 1939, and was therefore only used for about 18 years.
There were many photos taken over the years at this location, 81st and Halsted, the south end of CTA Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. What’s special about this Bob Selle shot is the date– January 2, 1954. There are not many pictures of Pullman PCCs from 1954, as they were the first casualties of the so-called PCC Conversion Program, whereby a total of 570 out of 600 Chicago PCCs were sent to the St. Louis Car Company, scrapped, and some of their parts were reused on a like number of “L” cars. Oddly enough, all the cars on this heavy line had to make a backup move in traffic. I am not sure why it couldn’t have been advantageous to figure out a different arrangement, such as an off-street loop like other lines had.
This is the Garfield Park “L” in the late 1950s, at the western end where it ran on the ground. The presence of streetcar tracks tells us that this picture was taken at Des Plaines Avenue in Forest Park, and that auto dates the picture to around 1957-58. But I am not sure if we are looking east or west.
Now Available On Compact Disc
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
Newly rediscovered and digitized after 60 years, most of these audio recordings of Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee interurban trains are previously unheard, and include on-train recordings, run-bys, and switching. Includes both Electroliners, standard cars, and locomotives. Recorded between 1955 and 1963 on the Skokie Valley Route and Mundelein branch. We are donating $5 from the sale of each disc to Kenneth Gear, who saved these and many other original Railroad Record Club master tapes from oblivion.
Total time – 73:14
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
Our friend Kenneth Gear recently acquired the original Railroad Record Club master tapes. These have been digitized, and we are now offering over three hours of 1950s traction audio recordings that have not been heard in 60 years.
Properties covered include:
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick), Capital Transit, Altoona & Logan Valley, Shaker Heights Rapid Transit, Pennsylvania Railroad, Illinois Terminal, Baltimore Transit, Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto, St. Louis Public Transit, Queensboro Bridge, Third Avenue El, Southern Iowa Railway, IND Subway (NYC), Johnstown Traction, Cincinnati Street Railway, and the Toledo & Eastern
$5 from the sale of each set will go to Kenneth Gear, who has invested thousands of dollars to purchase all the remaining artifacts relating to William A. Steventon’s Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. It is very unlikely that he will ever be able to recoup his investment, but we support his efforts at preserving this important history, and sharing it with railfans everywhere.
Potomac Edison (Hagerstown & Frederick):
01. 3:45 Box motor #5
02. 3:32 Box motor #5, May 24, 1953
03. 4:53 Engine whistle signals, loco #12, January 17, 1954
04. 4:13 Loco #12
05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953
Altoona & Logan Valley:
07. 4:00 Master Unit car #74, August 8, 1953
Shaker Heights Rapid Transit:
08. 4:17 Car 306 (ex-AE&FRE), September 27, 1953
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s:
11. 4:35 August 27, 1954
13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955
14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955
15. 4:56 Car 5706, January 16, 1954
16. 4:45 Car 5727, January 16, 1954
Niagara, St. Catharines & Toronto:
17. 4:19 Interurbans #83 and #80, October 1954
18. 5:20 #80, October 1954
Total time: 79:30
St. Louis Public Service:
01. 4:34 PCCs #1708, 1752, 1727, 1739, December 6, 1953
Queensboro Bridge Company (New York City):
02. 5:37 Cars #606, 605, and 601, December 31, 1954
Third Avenue El (New York City):
04. 5:07 December 31. 1954
05. 4:47 Cars #1797, 1759, and 1784 at 59th Street, December 31, 1954
Southern Iowa Railway:
06. 4:46 Loco #400, August 17, 1955
07. 5:09 Passenger interurban #9
IND Subway (New York City):
08. 8:40 Queens Plaza station, December 31, 1954
Last Run of the Hagerstown & Frederick:
09. 17:34 Car #172, February 20, 1954 – as broadcast on WJEJ, February 21, 1954, with host Carroll James, Sr.
Total time: 61:31
Altoona & Logan Valley/Johnstown Traction:
01. 29:34 (Johnstown Traction recordings were made August 9, 1953)
Cincinnati Street Railway:
02. 17:25 (Car 187, Brighton Car House, December 13, 1951– regular service abandoned April 29, 1951)
Toledo & Eastern:
03. 10:36 (recorded May 3-7, 1958– line abandoned July 1958)
04. 16:26 sounds recorded on board a PCC (early 1950s)
Total time: 74:02
Total time (3 discs) – 215:03
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.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
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.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
For Shipping to Canada:
For Shipping Elsewhere:
Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
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