Chicago in the 1950s

You would be forgiven for not recognizing this location, but that's the Western Avenue station on the Humboldt Park "L", just north of North Avenue. The station was closed in 1952, probably just a few months before this picture was taken. If the station was open, there would be a sign advertising this, similar to ones seen in some of the other pictures in this post. You can also see trolley bus wires, used on North Avenue. PCC 7151 is a two-man car, and passengers are boarding at the rear. This portion of the old Humboldt Park line was not demolished for another decade, and the story goes that it would have been used by Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban trains as a midday storage area, if service on that line could have continued after 1957. A cropped version of this photo ran in one of our earlier posts, but this was scanned from the original negative. (Wien-Criss Archive)

You would be forgiven for not recognizing this location, but that’s the Western Avenue station on the Humboldt Park “L”, just north of North Avenue. The station was closed in 1952, probably just a few months before this picture was taken. If the station was open, there would be a sign advertising this, similar to ones seen in some of the other pictures in this post. You can also see trolley bus wires, used on North Avenue. PCC 7151 is a two-man car, and passengers are boarding at the rear. This portion of the old Humboldt Park line was not demolished for another decade, and the story goes that it would have been used by Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban trains as a midday storage area, if service on that line could have continued after 1957. A cropped version of this photo ran in one of our earlier posts, but this was scanned from the original negative. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Today’s photos have two things in common. First, they were all taken in Chicago during the 1950s. Second, they were all shared with our readers by Jeffrey L. Wien of the Wien-Criss Archive.  We thank him for his generosity.

The color pictures were taken by the late Bill Hoffman. The photographer who took the black-and-whites is not known, but it seems possible it was someone who did not live in this area, but came to visit. They were not all taken at the same time, however. All those seem to date between 1952 and 1954.

As always, if you have any information to share about these pictures, or simply have a question or comment, do not hesitate to let us know. We look forward to hearing from you.

-David Sadowski

Black-and-White:

CTA PCC 4144 is southbound on Halsted. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4144 is southbound on Halsted. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4208 is southbound on State Street at 64th, just a few blocks south of where car 7078 was involved in a horrific crash with a truck on May 25, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4208 is southbound on State Street at 64th, just a few blocks south of where car 7078 was involved in a horrific crash with a truck on May 25, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA 4096 is westbound on Madison, crossing over the Chicago River. The Civic Opera House is to the left. The sign indicates that this bridge is going to be converted to "one man operation," meaning that it will be operated from only one tower instead of two. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4096 is westbound on Madison, crossing over the Chicago River. The Civic Opera House is to the left. The sign indicates that this bridge is going to be converted to “one man operation,” meaning that it will be operated from only one tower instead of two. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA 4238 is southbound on Wabash, crossing the Chicago River. But this must be a reroute, since it is definitely after 1949 (the car has advertising on the side) and it's running Route 36 - Broadway-State. Perhaps there was a parade on State Street that day (between 1939 and 1949 there was no State Street bridge, and this would have been the regular route for 36 then). (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4238 is southbound on Wabash, crossing the Chicago River. But this must be a reroute, since it is definitely after 1949 (the car has advertising on the side) and it’s running Route 36 – Broadway-State. Perhaps there was a parade on State Street that day (between 1939 and 1949 there was no State Street bridge, and this would have been the regular route for 36 then). (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4227 is on the turnback loop at Clark and Howard, the north end of Route 22. This is now the outdoor seating area for a restaurant. Buses terminate at the nearby Howard "L" station. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4227 is on the turnback loop at Clark and Howard, the north end of Route 22. This is now the outdoor seating area for a restaurant. Buses terminate at the nearby Howard “L” station. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA PCC 7057, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is at Waveland and Halsted, the north end of Route 8. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 7057, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is at Waveland and Halsted, the north end of Route 8. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4008 is at Cottage Grove and 115th, south end of Route 4. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4008 is at Cottage Grove and 115th, south end of Route 4. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA 4060 is southbound at Wabash and Wacker, running on Route 4 - Cottage Grove. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4060 is southbound at Wabash and Wacker, running on Route 4 – Cottage Grove. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA 4102, a Pullman PCC, is heading west at about 500 W. Madison, operating on the Madison-Fifth branch of Route 20. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4102, a Pullman PCC, is heading west at about 500 W. Madison, operating on the Madison-Fifth branch of Route 20. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4389 is southbound on Western near Leland Avenue, having just passed under the Ravenswood "L" (today's Brown Line), where a train of wooden cars are in the station. Note the dark areas where some touch-up painting has been done on the PCC. The light green paint originally used on these cars faded badly and was hard to match. This is one reason why the CTA began repainting these cars with a darker green around 1951-52. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4389 is southbound on Western near Leland Avenue, having just passed under the Ravenswood “L” (today’s Brown Line), where a train of wooden cars are in the station. Note the dark areas where some touch-up painting has been done on the PCC. The light green paint originally used on these cars faded badly and was hard to match. This is one reason why the CTA began repainting these cars with a darker green around 1951-52. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4108 is northbound at Kinzie Street. This was later the end of the line for the Wentworth half of the line, between 1957 and 1958, when buses replaced streetcars north of here. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4108 is northbound at Kinzie Street. This was later the end of the line for the Wentworth half of the line, between 1957 and 1958, when buses replaced streetcars north of here. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The date at which this photo of CTA PCC 4421 could have been taken, southbound on Clark at Van Buren, is a bit of a mystery. It appears that the street has already been made a one-way, which did not happen until November 16, 1953. But by then, the Pullman PCCs were systematically being retired and shipped to St. Louis, where they were scrapped and parts were reused in rapid transit cars. In my book Chicago Trolleys (page 107) there is a picture of track work being done at this location on July 17, 1954. So, my best guess is this picture was taken during the summer of 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The date at which this photo of CTA PCC 4421 could have been taken, southbound on Clark at Van Buren, is a bit of a mystery. It appears that the street has already been made a one-way, which did not happen until November 16, 1953. But by then, the Pullman PCCs were systematically being retired and shipped to St. Louis, where they were scrapped and parts were reused in rapid transit cars. In my book Chicago Trolleys (page 107) there is a picture of track work being done at this location on July 17, 1954. So, my best guess is this picture was taken during the summer of 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The same location today.

The same location today.

CTA PCCs 4103 and 4076 pass each other while crossing the Chicago River on Madison Street. Note the difference in fonts used for the numbers. Nowadays, transit agencies have style manuals, used to maintain consistency, but such was not the case in the early 1950s. Note the circa 1953 Cadillac at left. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCCs 4103 and 4076 pass each other while crossing the Chicago River on Madison Street. Note the difference in fonts used for the numbers. Nowadays, transit agencies have style manuals, used to maintain consistency, but such was not the case in the early 1950s. Note the circa 1953 Cadillac at left. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4008 is southbound on Wabash at about 900 South. The YMCA Hotel, seen in the background, opened in 1916 and closed in 1979. It was converted to apartments in 1985. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4008 is southbound on Wabash at about 900 South. The YMCA Hotel, seen in the background, opened in 1916 and closed in 1979. It was converted to apartments in 1985. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4201, operating on Route 36 - Broadway-State, has apparently been diverted from State Street, possibly due to a parade, and is northbound on Dearborn at Lake Street. The car at right has a 1953 Illinois license plate, but when this picture was taken, Dearborn was still a two-way street, meaning it is prior to November 16. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4201, operating on Route 36 – Broadway-State, has apparently been diverted from State Street, possibly due to a parade, and is northbound on Dearborn at Lake Street. The car at right has a 1953 Illinois license plate, but when this picture was taken, Dearborn was still a two-way street, meaning it is prior to November 16. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4108 is westbound on Madison at the Chicago River, running on the Madison-Fifth branch of Route 20. The cars have 1953 license plates. PCCs were taken off Madison on December 13, 1953. For a few months, Madison-Fifth continued as a shuttle operation between Madison and Pulaski, using older red streetcars. The rest of Madison was bussed. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4108 is westbound on Madison at the Chicago River, running on the Madison-Fifth branch of Route 20. The cars have 1953 license plates. PCCs were taken off Madison on December 13, 1953. For a few months, Madison-Fifth continued as a shuttle operation between Madison and Pulaski, using older red streetcars. The rest of Madison was bussed. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4101 is westbound on Madison, but where did it cross the Chicago & North Western? Andre Kristopans says it is "Crossing under CNW and PRR at Rockwell. The big building on other side is the old Madison carbarn. Burned in 1980's and in what was a real mindblower, the reporter on scene actually called it an "old CTA facility". Not quite - CSL sold it in 1920s, but amazingly close!" Rockwell is 2600 West. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4101 is westbound on Madison, but where did it cross the Chicago & North Western? Andre Kristopans says it is “Crossing under CNW and PRR at Rockwell. The big building on other side is the old Madison carbarn. Burned in 1980’s and in what was a real mindblower, the reporter on scene actually called it an “old CTA facility”. Not quite – CSL sold it in 1920s, but amazingly close!” Rockwell is 2600 West. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4262 is on 77th, by the car barn at 77th and Vincennes. The PCC is going to go northbound on Route 22 - Clark-Wentworth. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4262 is on 77th, by the car barn at 77th and Vincennes. The PCC is going to go northbound on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4039 is at Cottage Grove and 115th, south end of Route 4. To the left, is an embankment where Illinois Central commuter trains (now Metra Electric) ran. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4039 is at Cottage Grove and 115th, south end of Route 4. To the left, is an embankment where Illinois Central commuter trains (now Metra Electric) ran. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 7271 is northbound on Clark at Roosevelt. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 7271 is northbound on Clark at Roosevelt. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Here, a CTA Pullman PCC is northbound on Clark at Roosevelt Road. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Here, a CTA Pullman PCC is northbound on Clark at Roosevelt Road. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4154 is at Waveland and Halsted, the north end of Route 8. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA PCC 4154 is at Waveland and Halsted, the north end of Route 8. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Color:

CTA 601 at Halsted, Grand, and Milwaukee on May 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 601 at Halsted, Grand, and Milwaukee on May 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 5248 at Vincennes and 105th on November 27, 1949. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 5248 at Vincennes and 105th on November 27, 1949. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6154 is southbound at Halsted and Congress on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6154 is southbound at Halsted and Congress on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 153 is northbound at Halsted and Congress on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 153 is northbound at Halsted and Congress on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6142 at Clark and Archer on November 9, 1953, running Route 42 - Halsted Downtown. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 6142 at Clark and Archer on November 9, 1953, running Route 42 – Halsted Downtown. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 453 and 190 are on Halsted at 63rd Place on May 21, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 453 and 190 are on Halsted at 63rd Place on May 21, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

An unidentified CTA red car is on Halsted at 63rd Street on September 16, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

An unidentified CTA red car is on Halsted at 63rd Street on September 16, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 640 is running under the "L" on Halsted at 63rd Place on May 25, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 640 is running under the “L” on Halsted at 63rd Place on May 25, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 687 is at Division and Larrabee on May 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 687 is at Division and Larrabee on May 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 248 is at Crosby and Larrabee on May 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 248 is at Crosby and Larrabee on May 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

A CTA prewar PCC is on Western at Congress on June 11, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

A CTA prewar PCC is on Western at Congress on June 11, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7044 is on Western at Leland on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7044 is on Western at Leland on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7253 is on Western at Leland (by the Ravenswood "L", now the Brown Line) on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7253 is on Western at Leland (by the Ravenswood “L”, now the Brown Line) on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7243 is on Western at the Chicago River on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7243 is on Western at the Chicago River on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7037 is on Western at the Chicago River on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7037 is on Western at the Chicago River on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4060 is southbound on Western at 66th on October 9, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4060 is southbound on Western at 66th on October 9, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7118 is southbound on Western at Van Buren on November 3, 1954, with a train of wooden "L" cars about to cross Western on the temporary right of way for the Garfield Park "L" during expressway construction. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7118 is southbound on Western at Van Buren on November 3, 1954, with a train of wooden “L” cars about to cross Western on the temporary right of way for the Garfield Park “L” during expressway construction. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The Western and Berwyn loop on June 10, 1956. Those canopies were short-lived after the end of streetcar service, as buses eventually ran into them. Streetcars were on rails, so they could maintain such clearances. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The Western and Berwyn loop on June 10, 1956. Those canopies were short-lived after the end of streetcar service, as buses eventually ran into them. Streetcars were on rails, so they could maintain such clearances. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4053 at Western and Leland on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4053 at Western and Leland on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4060 is on Western at the Logan Square "L" on June 8, 1956. In the background, you can see the viaduct which is now part of the 606 Trail. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4060 is on Western at the Logan Square “L” on June 8, 1956. In the background, you can see the viaduct which is now part of the 606 Trail. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4027 (at left) passes a postwar car on Western at 24th on June 7, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA prewar PCC 4027 (at left) passes a postwar car on Western at 24th on June 7, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4004 is on Western at 26th on June 7, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4004 is on Western at 26th on June 7, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7160, viewed from the Douglas Park "L" (today's Pink Line), is operating on Western at 21st on June 15, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7160, viewed from the Douglas Park “L” (today’s Pink Line), is operating on Western at 21st on June 15, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7284 is on Western at the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on October 8, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7284 is on Western at the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on October 8, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7156, sporting unusual yellow numbers, is on Western at Van Buren on August 13, 1954. A wooden Garfield Park "L" train is nearby, on temporary trackage. At this stage, it appears the Western Avenue bridge over the Congress Expressway was not yet finished, as the streetcar (and auto traffic) are using a shoo-fly. (Wein-Criss Archive)

CTA 7156, sporting unusual yellow numbers, is on Western at Van Buren on August 13, 1954. A wooden Garfield Park “L” train is nearby, on temporary trackage. At this stage, it appears the Western Avenue bridge over the Congress Expressway was not yet finished, as the streetcar (and auto traffic) are using a shoo-fly. (Wein-Criss Archive)

Northbound CTA PCC 7206 is on Western Avenue, passing a two-car train of PCC rapid transit cars on the Garfield Park temporary trackage in Van Buren Street. The date is June 16, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Northbound CTA PCC 7206 is on Western Avenue, passing a two-car train of PCC rapid transit cars on the Garfield Park temporary trackage in Van Buren Street. The date is June 16, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7240 is at 69th and Morgan on October 25, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7240 is at 69th and Morgan on October 25, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7039 is at Western and 71st on August 12, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7039 is at Western and 71st on August 12, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4037 is on Western at the Chicago River on June 10, 1956-- just one week before the end of streetcar service on Route 49. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4037 is on Western at the Chicago River on June 10, 1956– just one week before the end of streetcar service on Route 49. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4375 is at 69th and Hamilton on November 5, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4375 is at 69th and Hamilton on November 5, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7236 is at Archer and Western on November 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7236 is at Archer and Western on November 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The "Streetcar Waiting Room" at Archer and Western on November 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The “Streetcar Waiting Room” at Archer and Western on November 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7157 is northbound on Western at 67th on June 15, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7157 is northbound on Western at 67th on June 15, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7208 is on Western near 34th on September 3, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7208 is on Western near 34th on September 3, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4393 is on Western at 21st on July 6, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4393 is on Western at 21st on July 6, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7213, the last streetcar to operate in Chicago, is on Western at 21st on July 16, 1951. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7213, the last streetcar to operate in Chicago, is on Western at 21st on July 16, 1951. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7123 on Western at 66th on July 9, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7123 on Western at 66th on July 9, 1950. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7123 at Western and 69th on January 28, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7123 at Western and 69th on January 28, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4408 on Western at 66th on July 16, 1951. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4408 on Western at 66th on July 16, 1951. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4373 and others at the Western and 79th loop on November 23, 1952. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4373 and others at the Western and 79th loop on November 23, 1952. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Passengers are getting off northbound CTA 7192 at Western and Van Buren on October 10, 1952. At this time, the temporary Van Buren trackage was still under construction, and this picture was taken from the Garfield Park "L" station, then still in use. There is no shoo-fly yet, meaning construction had not yet started on the Western Avenue bridge that would eventually go over the Congress Expressway. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Passengers are getting off northbound CTA 7192 at Western and Van Buren on October 10, 1952. At this time, the temporary Van Buren trackage was still under construction, and this picture was taken from the Garfield Park “L” station, then still in use. There is no shoo-fly yet, meaning construction had not yet started on the Western Avenue bridge that would eventually go over the Congress Expressway. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7193 has three followers at Western and 69th on October 13, 1953. You can compare the different CTA paint schemes on the first two cars. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7193 has three followers at Western and 69th on October 13, 1953. You can compare the different CTA paint schemes on the first two cars. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7113 is in an area where tracks are being worked on, and is crossing over from one track to another using a temporary switch. The date is June 17, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7113 is in an area where tracks are being worked on, and is crossing over from one track to another using a temporary switch. The date is June 17, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7042, in the distance, is about to clear a temporary switch so that the car on the right can cross over to that side during track work. This picture was taken on June 17, 1955 at Western and 71st. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7042, in the distance, is about to clear a temporary switch so that the car on the right can cross over to that side during track work. This picture was taken on June 17, 1955 at Western and 71st. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The conductor of CTA 7156 is throwing a track switch at Western and Archer on November 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The conductor of CTA 7156 is throwing a track switch at Western and Archer on November 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7189 is passing through an area where tracks are being worked on at Western and Cermak on October 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7189 is passing through an area where tracks are being worked on at Western and Cermak on October 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7227 is on Western at Bross on October 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7227 is on Western at Bross on October 15, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7238 is southbound on Western at the Douglas Park "L" on April 22, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7238 is southbound on Western at the Douglas Park “L” on April 22, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4028 is on Western at 27th on November 20, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4028 is on Western at 27th on November 20, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4059 on Western at 28th on November 20, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4059 on Western at 28th on November 20, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4008 is on Western at 65th on October 2, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4008 is on Western at 65th on October 2, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

PCC meets PCC in this famous Bill Hoffman photo, showing CTA PCC streetcar 4373 on Western Avenue, while a Garfield Park "L" train crosses on Van Buren temporary trackage. The date is June 16, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

PCC meets PCC in this famous Bill Hoffman photo, showing CTA PCC streetcar 4373 on Western Avenue, while a Garfield Park “L” train crosses on Van Buren temporary trackage. The date is June 16, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4373 is on Western near the Douglas Park "L" on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4373 is on Western near the Douglas Park “L” on October 5, 1953. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4020 on Western at 73rd during track work on June 26, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4020 on Western at 73rd during track work on June 26, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4044 is on Western at the Douglas Park "L" on June 22, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4044 is on Western at the Douglas Park “L” on June 22, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Riverview Park at Western and Roscoe on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Riverview Park at Western and Roscoe on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7012 at Western and Congress, crossing over the new expressway, on June 11, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7012 at Western and Congress, crossing over the new expressway, on June 11, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7038 is on Western at Van Buren on June 11, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7038 is on Western at Van Buren on June 11, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7239 is on Western at the Douglas Park "L" on November 11, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 7239 is on Western at the Douglas Park “L” on November 11, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4050 is southbound on Western at the Douglas Park "L" on November 11, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4050 is southbound on Western at the Douglas Park “L” on November 11, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The Western-Berwyn loop on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

The Western-Berwyn loop on June 10, 1956. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4402 on Western at 21st on June 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4402 on Western at 21st on June 17, 1954. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4053 on Western and 66th on July 31, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

CTA 4053 on Western and 66th on July 31, 1955. (Wien-Criss Archive)

Recent Correspondence

Our resident South side history expert M. E. writes:

I have a lot of comments about your latest post #241. Where to begin?

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic512.jpg
Your caption says this streetcar is on 77th St. No, it is on Vincennes Ave., in front of the 77th St. barn, heading north.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic530.jpg
First, a nit: I think this picture is at 107th rather than 105th. The streetcar is running on the Halsted/Vincennes/111th St. line, heading northeast on Vincennes. What makes this picture so interesting is the road sign, “Keep left of tracks.” That’s because, precisely at this spot, the streetcar tracks moved off the street and onto private right-of-way between Vincennes Ave. and the main line of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad. This pattern ran from 107th St. north to the Rock Island suburban line viaduct at 89th St., at which point the streetcar tracks rejoined Vincennes Ave. to go under the viaduct.

https://thetrolleydodger.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/pic534.jpg
This picture was taken from the eastbound platform of the Englewood L station spanning Halsted St. At that time, Halsted was still a very busy business district; in fact, I read somewhere that Englewood was the busiest business district outside the Loop. Notice the Yellow cabs waiting for L passengers.
Beneath this L platform, along 63rd Place, were streetcar tracks for Halsted cars that ended at 63rd St., as well as curb space for the two suburban bus companies, South Suburban Safeway Lines and Suburban Transit System.

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This picture is the reverse direction, looking north from the westbound platform of the Englewood L at Halsted. The cross street is 63rd St. The stores from left to right are: S S Kresge, on the southwest corner; The Ace department store on the northwest corner; and Sears Roebuck, the huge building on the northeast corner (with a Hillman’s grocery in the basement). The southeast corner building was nondescript, although at one point it was a Stineway drug store. Notice
the streetcar tracks turning between Halsted and 63rd. Some southbound
Halsted cars ended their runs at 63rd. They turned east on 63rd to Union Ave. (700 W.), then south to 63rd Place, then west to alongside (south of) the Halsted L station, then back north on Halsted.

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Two things in this picture:
(1) The red-and-white bus in the background belonged to the South Suburban Safeway Lines. In those days, the fastest way from the south side to the Loop was the Englewood L, which ended at 63rd Place and Loomis (1400 W.) And of course the Englewood business district was very prosperous. So the suburban bus line went as far as 63rd Place and Halsted (next to the L station). The suburban bus company had two routes into Englewood — one north along Western, then east on 63rd (this was the Harvey bus), the other north along Halsted St. from the south (this was the Chicago Heights bus). The other bus company running from the south suburbs into Englewood was the Suburban Transit System, which ran primarily east and west along 95th St. out to Oak Lawn and beyond. To reach Englewood, this bus line ran east on 95th to Vincennes, north to 87th, west to Morgan, north to 63rd, then east to the Englewood L.
(2) As can be seen from each side of the street in this photo, Western Ave. was auto dealer row for a mile or so to either side of 63rd St.

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and
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The streetcars shown here were Western Ave. cars, running east on 69th St. to get to the Vincennes / 77th St. barn. Western Ave. cars had used the carbarn at 69th and Ashland until it closed. After that, the streetcars had to use the 77th and Vincennes barn. The only way to get there (still with usable tracks and live trolley wires) was along 69th St. to Wentworth (200 W.), south to 73rd St. at Vincennes, then southwest on Vincennes to the barn at 77th.

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This view is looking south along Western at 71st St. The tracks going to the right were for the 67th/69th/71st line, which used Western to travel between 69th and 71st.

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And this photo is at 69th and Western, showing a northbound Western car turning east on 69th to head to the 77th St. barn. I see no turning track from southbound Western to eastbound 69th. The lack of such a track indicates that any Western car ending its run and heading to the 77th and Vincennes barn had to start at the 79th and Western terminal, go north on Western, then turn east on 69th.

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Two CTA bus routes served the 79th and Western station: West 79th (to almost Cicero Ave.) and South Western (to 119th St.) The buses shown were manufactured by ACF Brill, probably in the 1940s, because they had stick shifts. (Really!)

M. E.

Now Available On Compact Disc
CDLayout33p85
RRCNSLR
Railroad Record Club – North Shore Line Rarities 1955-1963
# of Discs – 1
Price: $15.99

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
[/caption]


Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 3Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 2Tape 4 switching at Roudout + Mundeline pic 1Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 2Tape 3 Mundeline Run pic 1Tape 2 Mundeline pic 3Tape 2 Mundeline pic 2Tape 2 Mundeline pic 1Tape 1 ElectrolinerTape 1 Electroliner pic 3Tape 1 Electroliner pic 2Notes from tape 4Note from tape 2

RRC-OMTT
Railroad Record Club Traction Rarities – 1951-58
From the Original Master Tapes
# of Discs- 3
Price: $24.99


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.
Disc One
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
Capital Transit:
05. 0:56 PCC car 1557, Route 20 – Cabin John line, July 19, 1953
06. 1:43
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
09. 4:04
10. 1:39
Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1s:
11. 4:35 August 27, 1954
12. 4:51
Illinois Terminal:
13. 5:02 Streamliner #300, northward from Edwardsville, February 14, 1955
14. 12:40 Car #202 (ex-1202), between Springfield and Decatur, February 1955
Baltimore Transit:
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
Disc Two
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
03. 5:17
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
Disc Three
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)
Capital Transit:
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. 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!

Bibliographic information:
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
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) 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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14 thoughts on “Chicago in the 1950s

  1. Wonderful shots as usual. I remember as a kid in late 1961 seeing the Humboldt Pk tracks from my seat on the Logan Sq El. One day I got off at Damen and walked under the tracks to see where they went. When I got to Western they ended and I recall seeing a few feet of track bent down from the last support. Also, it’s wonderful to see all the old advertising signs on the street cars and the buildings. Yusay beer stands out on a lot of the photos.

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  2. Another fantastic series of photos. One comment, the photo of CTA 687 is at Division and Crosby, not Larrabee. You can see the shadow of the now-gone Ogden Avenue viaduct at the bottom of the photo.

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  3. Great Photo Set! A bit of detail on photos (pic571.jpg & pic572.jpg) at 71st & Western, the temporary facing crossover was installed without a corresponding crossover overhead wire. PCC 7113 would be powered into the crossover while the conductor pulls the pole from the rear window, as the car then coasts onto the parallel track. The conductor then raises the trolley pole onto the parallel wire. 7113 crossing back to the right-hand track would have involved the same procedure unless there was a common, wired, trailing crossover a couple of blocks further.

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  4. Another treasure trove of photos thanks to the Wien-Criss Archive. I trust that the Trolley Dodger blog will continue as it is regardless of the future of ChicagoTransit.
    Re: pic508, car 4008 on Wabash Avenue. The YMCA Hotel was on the west side of the street; the car is northbound, as evidenced by the “Downtown” head sign.

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  5. Interesting to look at photos 591 & 565 which show the same area on Western. Looks like between 1950 & ’55 Burke Desoto/Plymouth became Burke Ford. Seems to have been a good choice since the same building is still a Ford dealer today.

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  6. Hi Trolley Dodger,

    I have produced some comments about your most recent photo group (Chicago in the 1950s). Keep up the excellent effort.

    Photo 504 shows car 4108 turning off of northbound Dearborn St. to westbound Kinzie St. before continuing north on Clark St.

    Photo 506 is certainly plausible. Pullman post-war PCCs did not disappear in one fell swoop. There were 300 Pullmans in all. The first order to build rapid transit cars from PCC streetcars was in June 1953 for 150 cars; followed by a 100 car order in Feb. 1954, a 20 car order in Dec. 1954, an 80 car order in June 1955 and a 50 car order in Dec. 1955. With maybe at least a few St.Louis-built cars being included in some of those orders; the Pullman cars were largely gone from the streets by the end of 1955.

    Photo 513 has a pet peeve caption as far as I am concerned. Why does every recent description and photo caption of the segment of the Cottage Grove line south of 95th St. talk about it paralleling the Metra Electric? During street car years, the Illinois Central RR owned the entire embankment. Why not mention that the Panama Ltd and the City of Miami operated there on the tracks nearest to Cottage Grove; not to mention IC freight activity and such trackage rights New York Central trains as the James Whitcomb Riley and the Twilight Ltd?

    Photo 516 is not at Halsted and Waveland, it is a half a block north at the streetcar layover area wedged between Halsted and Broadway (Hence the Route 8 destination sign!).

    Photo 530 is at the south end of the Vincennes Ave. private right-of-way segment at the 10800 block of Vincennes (108th St. did not go through to Vincennes, there were no intersections along Vincennes between 107th St. and 109th St.). Look at the bottom of the photo. You can see the streetcar trackage reverting to street running headed south. along with a sign alerting northbound motorists to stay left of the open running tracks. The streetcar in the photo is headed northbound, with the Rock Island Main Line to its right and Vincennes Ave to its left. In the background, you can see the large Chicago Bridge and Iron Works, which fronted on the north side of 107th St. Recent publications have variously mentioned that either 107th St. or 109th st. was the south end of the Halsted line’s private right-of-way segment in this area. The segment actually ran not quite two and a half miles from 89th St. to the 10800 block of Vincennes (where 108th St. would have been had it gone through).

    Photo 537 I believe shows a detouring Halsted car turning off of Division st. onto Crosby St., not Larabee.

    Regards,

    Tony Waller

    ________________________________

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  7. The comments about the photo at Division and Crosby are confirmed by the street sign at left showing that street to be Burling Street.

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  8. Photos 534, 535 & 536 Englewood, at 63rd & Halsted was one of Chicago’s largest and most important commercial shopping districts outside of the loop.

    #534 looks south on Halsted from the (A line) L station, note the “curved” pull-offs of the overhead which is well defined along with the curve’s corresponding track which converges into the south bound track in view #536.

    #535 looks north on Halsted from the L station, this was the main crossroads of the Englewood shopping district. On the northeast corner, the 1933 art deco Sears store building with its tenant, the Hillman’s Pure Foods grocery store are partially obscured by the Arthur Murray sign and the one in back of it. This northeast corner was originally occupied by the long defunct Becker-Ryan Dept. Store which was acquired by the Sears’ interests who replaced the original Becker-Ryan building.

    #536 is a companion picture from the street to #534. Here we see the curved track from 63rd place along with the nicely highlighted companion overhead wire. Appearing to rise above the L platform is the corner “tower” of the Sears Building, looking carefully on the enlarged view, the SEARS name can be seen.

    Google view shows the approximate location from which #536 was taken. Note that the platforms have been moved to the east and no longer extend over Halsted St. –
    https://www.google.com/maps/@41.7788385,-87.6447587,3a,75y,3.14h,91.82t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sYcGafc7OK9fQ0w712doa2A!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

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  9. The “Watch for Reopening” sign in the window, visible just above the newsstand in the Humboldt Park “L” photo, makes me think this was taken in early 1954. The restaurant that once occupied this corner space had been gutted in a spectacular fire during the Summer of 1953, along with a tavern next door on the North Avenue side.

    Along with hundreds, or perhaps even a few thousand other onlookers, I watched as 30 ft flames gutted the building that July evening. IIRC, Jalen’s Snack Shop, the new occupant, was up and running by the Summer of ’54 and for many years after that.

    Another clue that helps pinpoint the date is the light lettering on dark background seen on license plates in this image. This corresponds to the white on dark green format of the ’54 Illinois plates.

    In any case, thanks again for all you offer on this website. It truly is a phenomenal resource, not only for those interested in transit history, but also for anyone researching Chicago or Twentieth Century urban life. Amazing!

    Like

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