Cooler weather returned to the Chicago area last Friday, after a string of hot and muggy days. We took this opportunity to take pictures on the Chicago Transit Authority.
We rode the new 7000-series cars for the first time on the Yellow Line (formerly the Skokie Swift), where they were being tested last week. Our luck was good, as our ride from Dempster to Howard turned out to be the last trip of the day for these new cars, which are being tested extensively on the CTA system.
My impression of these new “L” cars was very favorable. While in many respects they are similar to the existing fleet, the 7000s are instantly recognizable, due to their blue end caps. They are smooth and quiet in operation, and offer improved seating, with fewer sideways seats, which did not prove to be very popular on the 5000s. The 7000s will replace the 2600-series cars, some of which are now 40 years old.
We also took some pictures of the Belmont Flyover construction progress, which is part of the RPM (Red and Purple Modernization) project. The flyover will keep Red, Purple, and Brown Line trains from having to cross in front of each other, and will therefore add capacity to these routes once it opens this November.
In addition, we have more classic traction pictures to share, both our own, and from our contributors Larry Sakar, Bob Bresse-Rodenkirk, and Jack Bejna.
PS- If you enjoy reading these posts, you might consider joining our Trolley Dodger Facebook Group as well. We currently have 419 members.
CTA Yellow Line
There were six original slides on auction recently, all taken in Chicago on January 10, 1956. I assume the photographer, who is as of yet unknown, may have simply been in town for a short time. I did win three of these, and will post improved scans once I receive them, but I thought they were interesting as an entire set:
I recently bought seven original red border Kodachrome slides, taken at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn during a World Series game between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. (They cost me just $7.50 apiece.)
The Dodgers were originally called the Trolley Dodgers in the early part of the 20th century, so I hope you won’t mind seeing these pictures here, even though they do not have a transit connection per se.
It is not often that old photos can be dated, but there are enough clues here that the actual date of this one can be figured out. The advertising signs match other pictures from the 1949 WS, where the Yankees beat the Dodgers, 4 games to 1. Games 3, 4, and 5 were played in Brooklyn, and the first two of those had a 1 pm start. Game 5 started at 2 pm since it was a Sunday.
Since the clock here says it is just after 2, and the game hasn’t started yet, this is Sunday, October 9, 1949. By studying one slide, you can see it was taken during the National Anthem. At the base of the scoreboard, there’s the iconic sign for Abe Stark’s clothing store (“Hit sign, win suit”).
Two blimps were flying overhead, one advertising R&H Beer, the other Tydol Gasoline.
The Yankees defeated the Dodgers that day 10-6 in the deciding game of the Series. Ebbets Field was not a large ballpark, and this game was attended by a crowd of 33,711 (several thousand less than the modern capacity of Fenway Park or Wrigley Field).
Ebbets Field had lights installed in 1938. This game was also historic, since the lights were turned on during the 9th inning, the first time this had been done in a WS game. (All WS games were played in the daytime until 1971.)
When games were over, fans were able to walk on part of the left field grass to exit by the center field gate.
The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season (and their rivals, the New York Giants, went to San Francisco), leaving the Yankees as the sole New York team until the expansion team Mets joined them in 1962. Ebbets Field, which opened in 1913, was torn down in 1960 and replaced by apartments.
Larry Sakar writes:
As regards photo 2021/07/bills228 your guess that this is the Kenosha, WI. NSL station is 100% correct.
The giveaway is the entrance. This is the north end of the station. Sometime in the ’80’a or ’90’s when It was Spaghetti Station and then just “The Station,” the owners decided to add a banquet room to the north end of the building. It completely ruined its historical appearance. No attempt was made to make it look anything like the existing building and that big, square addition looked totally out of place with Arthur Gerber’s original design. They also ended up building across from one platform to the other forever ruining that part as well.
I went there in April or May of 1972. There was no bus service in Kenosha at the time, so I had to walk from the location of the TM station (8th Avenue & 55th St.) to the NSL station at 27th Avenue and 63rd St. When I got there I found the building completely enclosed by a picket fence. Luckily, the gate or whatever was open and I walked in and began snapping photos. In those days I was using an Ansco box camera and 620 b&w film with 8 shots to the roll. Talk about primitive!
Just then a gentleman came out of the station which was open on the south end. I explained that I was a traction fan and the North Shore line which had built this station is one of my areas of study. I thought I was going to get kicked off the property, but the man was quite flattered that I was interested in the building.
Did he know about the NSL and the history of the building? He never said. He said I was welcome to take as many pictures as I wished, and said he’d invite me inside but he had just finished washing the floor and it was slippery.
It was just as well because I’d lost the flash attachment to that camera years earlier. Remember the days of flash attachments and flashbulbs? I was also limited in how much time I could spend there. I’d come down from Milwaukee on the Wisconsin Coach Lines bus, which let you off in the downtown Kenosha area. I was really going to have to hustle if I was going to make the next bus back to Milwaukee. Luckily, I did.
I still have the prints that I shot that day and will send them to you should you wish to use them.
Bob Bresse-Rodenkirk sent in three recent photos, taken at the Shore Line Trolley Museum, in East Haven, CT:
“The Chicago Boys in proper North Shore uniform. Stephen B. Rudolph and Bob Bresse-Rodenkirk. Photos by Alan Zelazo.”
Bob adds, “I am the motorman there and Steve Rudolph is conductor.” Chicagoans may remember Bob from WBBM radio, under his professional name, Bob Roberts.
Finally, Jack Bejna sent us this photo of Chicago Surface Lines 4001:
Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
I recently appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
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:
For Shipping to Canada:
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)
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
This is our 274th post, and we are gradually creating a body of work and an online resource for the benefit of all railfans, everywhere. To date, we have received over 792,000 page views, for which we are very grateful.
You can help us continue our original transit research by checking out the fine products in our Online Store.
As we have said before, “If you buy here, we will be here.”
We thank you for your support.
In order to continue giving you the kinds of historic railroad images that you have come to expect from The Trolley Dodger, we need your help and support. It costs money to maintain this website, and to do the sort of historic research that is our specialty.
Your financial contributions help make this web site better, and are greatly appreciated.