On October 10, 1952, an eastbound five-car Garfield Park “L” train approaches Western Avenue, where photographer William C. Hoffman was standing. The temporary trackage on Van Buren Street, visible at right, was then under construction.
April showers, as they say, bring May flowers. That kind of fits today’s post, since there is always a lot of preliminary work involved in what we do. In fact, you could say we have been working on this one for a month.
It’s finally taken root, and now you can stop and smell the roses! We have about 100 classic traction photos for you to enjoy. Most are our own, and some are from the collections of our friend William Shapotkin.
We also have two new products available. You can pre-order our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, and also purchase A Tribute to the North Shore Line, a two-hour DVD presentation put together in 2013 by the late Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss.
PS- FYI, we have a Facebook auxiliary for the Trolley Dodger here, which currently has 320 members.
Our Latest Book, Now Available for Pre-Order:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Arcadia Publishing will release our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s on July 12, 2021. Reserve your copy today!
From the back cover:
Chicago’s system of elevated railways, known locally as the “L,” has run continuously since 1892 and, like the city, has never stood still. It helped neighborhoods grow, brought their increasingly diverse populations together, and gave the famous Loop its name. But today’s system has changed radically over the years. Chicago’s Lost “L”s tells the story of former lines such as Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Kenwood, Stockyards, Normal Park, Westchester, and Niles Center. It was once possible to take high-speed trains on the L directly to Aurora, Elgin, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The L started out as four different companies, two starting out using steam engines instead of electricity. Eventually, all four came together via the Union Loop. The L is more than a way of getting around. Its trains are a place where people meet and interact. Some say the best way to experience the city is via the L, with its second-story view. Chicago’s Lost “L”s is virtually a “secret history” of Chicago, and this is your ticket. David Sadowski grew up riding the L all over the city. He is the author of Chicago Trolleys and Building Chicago’s Subways and runs the online Trolley Dodger blog.
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.
Title Chicago’s Lost “L”s
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages
01. The South Side “L”
02. The Lake Street “L”
03. The Metropolitan “L”
04. The Northwestern “L”
05. The Union Loop
06. Lost Equipment
07. Lost Interurbans
08. Lost Terminals
09. Lost… and Found
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus facsimile of a 1926 Chicago Rapid Transit Company map, with interesting facts about the “L” on the reverse side.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
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For Shipping Elsewhere:
A Tribute to the North Shore Line
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.
Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.
It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.
Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.
Total time – 121:22
# of Discs – 1 Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)
The LaSalle Street tunnel under the Chicago River, shown prior to when it was rebuilt for use by cable cars in the 1880s. It had opened on July 4, 1871. This is one-half of a stereo photo.
A northbound Jackson Park-Howard “B: train descends into the State Street Subway sometime in the 1970s. A Lake-Dan Ryan train, made up of 2000s and 2200s, is on the nearby “L” structure.
An Englewood-Howard “A” train of 6000s in the State Street Subway in the 1970s.
This photo, showing a South Shore Line train running in the street in East Chicago, Indiana, must have been taken just prior to the relocation of these tracks in 1956. Since then, they have run next to the Indiana Toll Road. The location is on Chicago Street at Magoun Avenue, less than a mile east of the Indiana Toll Road. The train appears to be heading east. That’s a 1955 or ’56 Buick at left across the street.
The same location today.
J. W. Vigrass took this photo along the Red Arrow’s West Chester line on May 29, 1954, just about a week before buses replaced trolleys. This long side-of-the-road interurban fell victim to a project that widened West Chester Pike.
This may not be the sharpest picture, but it is an original Ektachrome slide shot by the late George Krambles. It shows North Shore Line 181 approaching Libertyville along the Mundelein branch on February 11, 1962.
A North Shore Line train in North Chicago, sometime in the 1950s. This was an Ektachrome slide that had shifted to red, and I was fortunate to be able to color correct it in Photoshop. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)
This photo did not come with any information, but it is a fantrip held on the Red Arrow’s West Chester trolley line on June 6, 1954, when the line was replaced by buses. We previously posted a color image taken at this photo stop, where the location was given as either Milltown or Mill Farm, the handwriting was difficult to make out. Apparently one of the three cars shown here broke down and had to be towed by one of the others.
Another photo of the South Shore Line in East Chicago in 1956. My guess is, this is the same location as the other photo, just looking the other way.
We recently posted a color image, similar to this and taken at the same location, shot in 1955 by William C. Hoffman. This is most likely from the same general time period, as prewar PCC 7003 is running on Western Avenue. The prewar cars ran here from 1955-56 after they had been on the Cottage Grove line, converted to one-man operation. The “L” train is running on the Garfield Park temporary trackage in Van Buren Street, which was used from 1953-58.
A view looking west along the Lake Street “L” sometime during the 1950s. The “L” ran in one direction then (counter-clockwise), so both the “L” train and North Shore Line train are heading west, away from the photographer. That’s Tower 18 behind the train of 4000s, before it was replaced in 1969.
Another photo taken at the same location in East Chicago in 1956. Here, we see a westbound train on Chicago Street at Magoun Avenue.
The view looking west along Lake Street from the front window of a North Shore Line train in July 1960. This was during the period when the Loop “L” ran in one direction, so the train we see near Tower 18 was also heading west. Soon, this North Shore Line train would turn north. (J. W. Vigrass Photo)
J. W. Vigrass took this picture looking out the front window of a northbound North Shore Line train approaching Armitage in July 1960, near the north portal to the State Street Subway.
J. W. Vigrass shot this photo of the Red Arrow operating along West Chester Pike on May 29, 1954. Much of the line was single track, and here we are at a passing siding.
On August 4, 1955, a westbound Garfield Park “L” train of 4000s ascends the ramp up to the “L” near Van Buren and Mozart (just west of California Avenue). East of here, the Garfield Park temporary trackage ran in the south half of Van Buren. Here, you can see the streetcar tracks in Van Buren, last used in 1951. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The same location today.
This started out as an Anscocolor slide, but there was so little color left in it that I had no choice but to convert it to black-and-white. This is the view looking west from the Racine “L” station, on the Met main line, on February 26, 1954, showing a three-point switch leading to the Throop Street Shops, which would be demolished within a few months. While Garfield Park trains no longer took this path, Douglas Park trains still did, until April 1954, when that line was re-routed downtown via the Lake Street “L”. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
William C. Hoffman took this photo of what was then a new illuminated sign in the State Street Subway on March 6, 1955.
This Clark Frazier photo of San Francisco Muni “Iron Monster” 207 was processed in March 1958, which is about when Kodak started date-stamping slide mounts. This is surely among the last photos of this car in service. 207 has just changed ends in a then-new wye at the end of the M line.
A two-car CTA Garfield Park “L” train stops at Tripp Avenue on March 11, 1956. This was one of the stations that was not in the way of expressway construction, and continued in service until June 21, 1958, when the new Congress rapid transit line opened. These cars were part of the first group of 4000s built by the Cincinnati Car Company circa 1915. The center doors were never used in service and were blocked off. The head car is 4238. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A Chicago Surface Lines bus stop sign in Chicago’s Loop on July 18, 1951. Interestingly, the late Jeff Wien had just such a sign in his collection. Not sure if it is an original or a copy, though.
I assume this is Altoona & Logan Valley car 62 in the early 1950s. Not sure what the two former railroad coaches are at left, repurposed after their retirement.
Again, I assume this is Altoona & Logan Valley. Cars 70 and 72 meet, and both are Osgood Bradley “Electromobiles” from 1930. Hardly any of these types of cars have survived.
Altoona & Logan Valley 72 at an unknown location.
Here, CTA 4000s are heading west on Van Buren Street temporary trackage on April 14, 1957. We are looking to the northwest, and the photographer was riding in a Douglas Park “L” train along Paulina. Douglas trains ran here from 1954-58, and do so now, as part of the rechristened CTA Pink Line.
While not the sharpest picture, this does show one of the two Liberty Liners (former North Shore Line Electroliners) on the Norristown line on January 26, 1964, their debut just one year after the demise of the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee. The bridge crosses the Schuylkill River.
Another Red Arrow photo along West Chester Pike, taken on May 29, 1954 by J. W. Vigrass.
A southbound Bullet car at Bryn Mawr station in August 1961, on the Norristown line. (G. H. Landau Photo)
The entrance to the high point of the Angel’s Flight Railway, a funicular on the side of a hill in Los Angeles, prior to when this operation was closed in 1969, dismantled, and put into storage for many years. It has since been relocated and reopened. This hill was a victim of a redevelopment project.
This undated photo of North Shore Line train 172 in Waukegan must have been taken prior to this line’s abandonment in July 1955.
The view looking west from the Western Avenue “L” station on the Garfield Park “L” on August 19, 1953. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On August 19, 1953, an eastbound five-car Garfield Park “L” train approaches the Western Avenue station, just out of view to the right. The area had been cleared for construction of the Congress Expressway. The excavated area has filled up with rain. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On July 2, 1950, a westbound single-car Garfield Park “L” train is near California Avenue. Soon this entire area would be cleared out to make way for the Congress Expressway. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
It’s October 20, 1953, and we are looking west from the Marshfield station on the Metropolitan main line. The Garfield Park “L” tracks west of here are out of service and the tracks have already been removed. The platform at right had been used by the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, and the sign advertising that has been covered up. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
On November 10, 1953, this is the view looking west from Marshfield. The Garfield Park “L” structure has already been removed to some extent west of here, due to construction of the Congress Expressway. The Douglas Park “L” was still using the old structure east of here, and would continue to do so until April 1954, when a new connection to the Lake Street “L” was finished. The Douglas Park “L” tracks here go off to the left. The new connection, going north-south, spans the width of the highway and connects to the “L” structure that had been used by Logan Square and Humboldt Park trains until 1951. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
The view looking west from the former Western Avenue station on the Garfield Park “L” on October 16, 1953. The “L” tracks have already been removed and demolition of the station would follow shortly. The last train ran on this structure (in one direction) on September 27. (William C. Hoffman Photo)
A North Shore Line fantrip train on February 19, 1961. Not sure of the location, or who the conductor is at left.
This undated photo by the late Mel Bernero was taken at the old CTA Logan Square terminal, looking east.
This shows the Garfield Park “L” station at Oak Park Avenue, before the construction of the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway. The view looks to the northeast. The buildings just to the north are still there.
I found a description of this photo online: “This real photograph postcard was taken on July 4, 1910, near the Methodist Church on Franklin Avenue in Valparaiso, Indiana. This public gathering commemorated the first run of the Valparaiso & Northern Railway interurban on the new line running from Valparaiso northward to Flint Lake. The first interurban left Valparaiso at 9:00 am in charge of Conductor C. C. Metsker. Valparaiso Mayor William F. Spooner, Valparaiso City Clerk Clem Helm, and other local notables were passengers on the inaugural sixteen minute, three mile trip to Flint Lake. An engine operated by Frank Chowdrey, hooked to two flat cars with seats and decked out in flags and bunting, followed the interurban to Flint Lake. A total of 3,500 passengers were transported to Flint Lake that inaugural day for the festivities. Incorporated in August 1908, the Valparaiso & Northern Railway construction was financed by citizens of Valparaiso and outside investors; the railway was to become one of the feeder lines the the Chicago-New York Electric Air Line Railroad. A section between Chesterton and Goodrum, located just north of Woodville, was completed and put into service on February 18, 1911. The section between Flint Lake and Woodville was completed on October 7, 1911; between February and October of 1911, a bus was used to transport passengers between Goodrum and Flint Lake. Complete interurban through service between Chesterton, Valparaiso, and LaPorte was possible after a bridge was constructed over the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on February 17, 1912. Interurban service to Valparaiso ceased on October 23, 1938, largely due to the increasing use of automobiles, an improved highway system, and the financial depression.”
This is a nice picture of the South Shore illustration that became a rallying cry in the mid-to-late 1970s, when the interurban was threatened with extinction.
I think this slide, taken in October 1953, is misidentified. It shows car 2851 at the head of a Garfield Park “L” train, but identifies the location as Laramie. There was no such wooden or steel “L” structure there. What seems more likely is, this is an eastbound train going down the ramp just west of California Avenue, approaching the temporary ground-level trackage that Garfield used from 1953-58. There is no expressway at left because it hadn’t been built yet.
CTA 6574-6573 at the DesPlaines Avenue terminal in Forest Park on August 14, 1964. The tracks are in the same location today, but the terminal was replaced in the 1980s and the area around it was dug out. We are looking to the northwest. Those silos at rear are long gone.
SEPTA car 18, signed for Media, is at the 69th Street Terminal on a snowy night in February 1973.
North Shore Line 712 and train on the Mundelein branch on July 29, 1962, signed for Chicago. That must be 775 behind 712.
This photo came without any identification, but it shows the CTA off-street loop at Halsted near 79th Street, some time after buses replaced streetcars on Route 8 in 1954. Andre Kristopans: “Bus at 79th Halsted terminal is a 42B South Halsted, arriving from 127th Street. The bus facing other direction is an 8 or a 42 northbound.” Route 42 was discontinued in 1993, upon the opening of the new Orange Line rapid transit route.
North Shore Line car 732 at the Mundelein terminal at an apparently early date, considering how few buildings are present. Don’s Rail Photos: “732 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It was modernized in 1939.”
Toonerville Trolley Celebration in Pelham, NY
There was an actual railfan comic strip in the daily papers during the first half of the 20th Century– Fontaine Fox’s Toonerville Trolley.
It was inspired by an actual trolley in Pelham, NY. Author Blake A. Bell was until recently the Pelham town historian, and has written extensively about the cartoon’s connections to that area in suburban New York City.
The Toonerville Trolley met all the trains, and its inspiration ran to the New Haven Railroad station. It is said that the cartoon “Skipper” was inspired by longtime Pelham trolley operator James Bailey.
On July 31, 1937, Fox staged an event, attended by hundreds of people, to commemorate the end of trolley service in Pelham. The local streetcars did not resemble the cartoon one enough, so a small Birney car was brought over from another property to serve as the “Toonerville Trolley” for this occasion.
We recently acquired several photos from this event. The nattily dressed man in one picture is Fontaine Fox himself.
Cartoonist Fontaine Fox (1884-1964) in 1911.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin
CTA 5532 is southbound on Paulina, running on Route 9 – Ashland. In the background, we see the Marshfield “L” station on the Metropolitan main line. This was where all the Met lines diverged, going to Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park, and Douglas Park. There was also a platform for the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, seen at rear. As you can see at right, some clearing has already been done for the Congress Expressway. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA work car W-205 at 77th and Vincennes in January 1951. (William Shapotkin Collection)
While the caption on this photo erroneously says it is Gary, Indiana, it is actually East Chicago instead. The date given is October 1953. The location is much the same as in some of the other South Shore black-and-white photos in this post (Chicago Street near Magoun Avenue). Note the same stores across the street. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA trolley bus 9588 is southbound on Pulaski at Grand Avenue on March 12, 1973, not long before the end of electric bus service. Jimmy’s Red Hots is at left. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Brand new CTA 2414 is at Rockville (MD?) on March 19, 1977. It’s part of the 2400-series, built by Boeing-Vertol. (R. Anastasio Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 6027 is at Kedzie and 33rd in April 1949. (William Shapotkin Collection)
Chicago Surface Lines 2821 and 2818 at 111th and Halsted in 1944. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA one-man streetcar 3220 is at 67th and South Shore Drive in June 1952, running on Route 67. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 3238 at 67th and Lake Shore Drive (also known as South Shore Drive here) in May 1950. Note the same ice cream stand as in shapotkin116. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 6207 is at an unknown location, while a postwar PCC turns in the background. The red car is signed for Route 93. Jon Habermaas says the “location is 95th Street west of State Street showing the west end of the 93/95 route. PCC in background is a Broadway-State car turning north on to State after a short jog on 95th from Michigan Ave route segment from 119th Street.” (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 6182 at Lawrence and Clark in March 1950. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 653, signed to head south on Route 8 – Halsted. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 6031, with no route sign visible. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA 551. Michael Franklin writes, “This is looking south on State Street from Roosevelt Road. (The) building with round arches is still standing.” (William Shapotkin Collection)
The info on the slide mount says this is CTA 6153 at 47th and Indiana in June 1949. However, the car is signed for Route 28. Kevin Doerksen says this is “actually 47th and Cottage Grove, NE corner. The old bank building is still there.” (William Shapotkin Collection)
It’s not clear to me just where this picture was taken, but at least I can say that it is Ashland Car Works slide #820. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This is slide #814 from Ashland Car Works, and shows wooden “L” cars running along Van Buren street downtown. The photographer was most likely standing on the platform at Franklin and Van Buren. The view looks east, and that’s Tower 12 at right. The tracks and structure west of Van Buren and Wells were replaced in 1955 by a new connection, running through the former Well Street Terminal, just north of here. The tower, “L” structure, and the Franklin Street station were all removed shortly thereafter. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This is an image we have most likely run before, but it never hurts to see it again. It shows one of the original 5000-series “L” trains, which were numbered 5001-5004, heading west along the Metropolitan main line just west of the Chicago River. The train is passing over the south train platforms at Union Station. This is slide #812 from Ashland Car Works (put out by the late Jack Bailey) if that helps. (William Shapotkin Collection)
1973 Trolley Bus Fantrip
These images, also from Bill Shapotkin‘s collection, are from a CTA trolley bus fantrip at night, that took place on March 31, 1973.
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, 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 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) Help Support The Trolley Dodger
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6 thoughts on “May Showers”
The photo of SEPTA Red Arrow Division was NOT taken in the Winter of 1972-73. There were flurries on 2 occasions, in October, 1972 and February of 1973. But these amounted to a trace, and there was no measurable snow in the Philadelphia area that winter. There was measurable snow in December, 1973, and measurable snow in February of 1972. Perhaps the picture was taken in one of those winters. There was traction news in Philadelphia in April, 1973…the southern extension of the Broad Street Subway to what’s now NRG Station, opened as Pattison Avenue, served by the 1927-38-vintage subway cars…there were enough cars to get by without a purchase of new cars. (One of those cars, number 55, a 1927 Brill product, is at IRM,, not restored but ambulatory, when I last heard.)
Thanks… I only have the date the slide was processed.
The photo from 1949 that you said is labeled 47th and Indiana, is actually 47th and Cottage Grove, NE corner. The old bank building is still there.
Thanks for the correction.
I have two comments o\n the most recent Trolley Dodger. Image 484 of the Halsted & 79th off-street bus terminal shows a 40-passenger Brill bus facing the camera that is identified as being a 42 Halsted-Downtown bus about to depart. Such small buses were not assigned to Route 42 as that route passed through the densely populated inner city. It is more likely going to turn left (south) on a run to 127th St. on route 42B South Halsted Extension serving the more lightly populated outer city.
Image 114 shows a route 93 93rd St. red car changing ends in the stub end trackage just west of 95th & State St. This was where that route’s cars would change ends/reverse directions without interfering with through operations of busy Route 36 – Broadway State (Hence the PCC car making a right turn from westbound 95th St. to northbound State St.) Broadway/State used 95th St to transition between operation on State St (north of 95th St.) to operation on Michigan Ave. (south of 95th St)..
Thanks for the corrections.