CTA PCC 7195 is southbound on Clark Street at Van Buren Street on June 20, 1958– the last full day of streetcar operation in Chicago. Bob Heinlein took this picture from the Loop “L” station, offering a good look at the “old” downtown. This was color corrected from an early Ektachrome slide that had shifted to red.
The Trolley Dodger blog has reached a new milestone, as this is our 300th post. We always try to do our best with every post, but hope we have made this one even more special.
Among many other things, we have begun scanning some of the pictures we have collected for our next book, featuring the Chicago Aurora and Elgin interurban. Our work on that is ongoing, and our research is expected to take the rest of this year. Your contributions to this effort are greatly appreciated, as we have already spent over $2500 on research since January.
We hope that you will enjoy it. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks.
PS- You might also like our Trolley Dodger Facebook auxiliary, a private group that now has 1,272 members.
Our friend Kenneth Gear has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.
FYI, the Hoosier Traction Facebook Group celebrates electric transit in Indiana and the Midwest. It also supports the activities of the annual Hoosier Traction Meet (although not affiliated with the North American Transit Historical Society, which organizes that event).
Here’s North Shore Line (technically Chicago and Milwaukee Electric) city streetcar 354 changing ends in front of the Milwaukee Terminal, circa 1950-51. This line had previously run to 2nd and Wisconsin, a few blocks away, which was the original end of the line for the interurban as well. But for the last year or so of streetcar operation, the lone NSL Milwaukee line ended here. Car 354, a product of the St. Louis Car Company, is now at the Illinois Railway Museum.
On Saturday, March 7, 1953, CTA one-man streetcar 1780 is operating on the Fifth Avenue shuttle. The Hotel Hoover was located at 3358 W. Jackson Boulevard, so we are looking west along Jackson. This was originally a branch line from Route 20 – Madison, but as of May 11, 1952, buses replaced streetcars on the weekends on Madison. At those times, Fifth became a shuttle using some of the older red streetcars that were set up for one-man (and they were all men, back then) operation. On December 13, 1953, buses replaced PCCs on Madison, and Fifth became a seven-day-a-week shuttle, until February 22, 1954, when the shuttle was discontinued. It was not replaced by buses because part of Fifth Avenue was truncated due to construction of the Congress expressway. Fifth wasn’t going to cross the highway, since this would have been an expensive bridge to build, crossing at an angle. Since then, other parts of Fifth have been cut off as well. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA crane X-201 is at 71st Street and Wentworth in the 1950s. (William Shapotkin Collection)
This photo cost me less than $5, but I consider it an excellent find. We are looking west along the Garfield Park “L” right-of-way (actually owned by the Chicago Aurora & Elgin) in suburban Oak Park. This is the first picture I have seen of a CA&E freight train this far east– CA&E freight did not operate east of Laramie Avenue. CA&E loco 2001 is at the head of the train. The platforms at these stations had extensions that flipped up, to allow freight trains to clear. I presume that someone at the head of the train flipped them up, and the man on the caboose is flipping them back down again. Meanwhile, there is a much longer freight train on the adjacent Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal tracks at left. This picture can’t be any later than 1953, when the CA&E cut back service to Forest Park, yet the style of auto at the crossing in the distance doesn’t look much older than that. Which station is this? Bruce Moffat has identified it as Home Avenue in Oak Park, which is a short distance east of Harlem Avenue. Dan Cluley adds, “It is hard to tell at that distance, but my guess is the mystery auto is a 1950 or 51 Ford Sedan.”
A close-up view of the previous image, showing the car, which may be a 1950 or 1951 Ford.
The last Chicago streetcar at 78th and Vincennes, on its last run (June 21, 1958). (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA PCC streetcar 4407 is at Clark and Schubert on September 6, 1957, not long before the last northside car line was replaced by buses. The building at 2643 N. Clark, at left, is still a post office, but the Jewel has been replaced by a McDonald’s. Time was, there were small Jewel Food Stores all over the city. Note the sign saying “serve yourself.” Self-service grocery stores were a relatively new thing in the 1950s. Previously, you told the grocer what you wanted, and they picked the order for you. The last small Jewel I recall seeing was at Clark and Webster, just a few blocks south of here. It was replaced by a Tower Records in the 1980s– and now that’s gone too. This was shot on Anscochrome film, which was not of the same quality as Kodak. The film speed of Kodachrome was ISO/ASA 10, only useful on sunny days. On cloudy days, photographers often used this, or Ektachrome, which had a film speed of 32. This film is rather grainy, such that it starts to look like an impressionist painting when viewed under high magnification. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA red Pullman 144 is at Clark and 16th Street on May 25, 1958, on one of those Sunday fantrips (when buses replaced streetcars on the last remaining lines). That way, fans could have plenty of photo stops, without getting in the way of regular service. The PCC running behind 144 was there as backup, and was also part of the fantrip. The view looks north. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA high-speed single car units 1-4 made up the original rolling stock of the new Skokie Swift line. Here, car #1 is at Skokie Shops on March 24, 1964, newly fitted with a pan trolley. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA PCC 7160 is heading eastbound on Devon Avenue at Bosworth (about 1530 W, one block east of Clark Street) on July 27, 1956. The streetcar is operating on Route 36 – Broadway-Downtown. (William Shapotkin Collection)
One that got away… CSL/CTA 2605 at the Devon car barn (station) on September 27, 1953. (William Shapotkin Collection)
CTA PCC 7213, the last Chicago streetcar, begins its final run in the early morning hours of June 21, 1958 at Kinzie and Clark, the north terminus of the Wentworth line. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
A westbound two-car Lake Street “A” train is between Laramie and Central Avenues in a slide processed in February 1966. We are looking west. (Robert Heinlein Collection)
CTA PCC 7224 is southbound on Wentworth Avenue at 23rd Street (in Chinatown) on June 20, 1958– the last full day of streetcar operation in Chicago. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
A slightly different version of this image appears on page 20 in my book The North Shore Line, sourced from an archive. This version is from an original real photo postcard I recently purchased. Ravinia Park was built by the Chicago and Milwaukee Electric (later the North Shore Line) in 1904, and the concertgoers here are crossing its tracks. The postcard most likely dates to before 1907, as it had a space on the front for writing a message. Until that year, the backs of postcards were reserved for the address only. Thew cropping is slightly different between the two versions of this image because both were made from the original negative, and in each case, either neg or the printing paper was positioned a bit differently.
This postcard image, showing the north portal to the State Street Subway, probably dates to around the time it opened in October 1943. The three-car “L” train, made up of 4000-series cars, is northbound, heading for Howard Street. There were two series of 4000s, and the middle car is of the earlier type, possibly an unpowered trailer.
A close-up view.
Wooden CTA “L” car 1797 at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum in North Chicago, in a slide processed in January 1963. IRM moved to Union the following year. This was shot on Dynachrome film, which was supposedly based on expired Kodachrome patents. It was later taken over by 3M.
Construction of Chicago’s first subways eventually led to the development of the Pedway, an extensive network of tunnels connecting many downtown stores and buildings. Here, excavation work on a pedestrian tunnel connecting the State and Dearborn subways has just started on Court Place between Randolph and Washington on January 31, 1942. It was built using the “cut and cover” method. The State Street Subway opened in 1943, but this connection was not put into service until the Dearborn Street Subway opened in 1951.
(This and the next picture) The CA&E St. Charles-Geneva branch was abandoned in 1937, and here it is being torn up in 1938.
The CA&E Main Line, looking east from Bellwood. The Westchester “L” branch split off from here at right.
The CA&E Wheaton Yards and Elgin Junction in the late 1930s.
The CA&E in Wheaton, looking in the other direction from the previous photo.
CA&E wood car 141, when it was being leased from the North Shore Line, circa 1936-45. It, and several other wood cars, briefly returned to the NSL but were purchased outright by CA&E in 1946. They were all scrapped in 1954 after the interurban cut back service to Forest Park. Don’s Rail Photos (via archive.org): “141 was built by American Car Co in March 1910, #844, as C&ME 141. It was rebuilt in 1914 and retired in 1954.”
The CA&E station (and substation) at Prince Crossing in the late 1930s. This building has survived the abandonment of the railroad, but is now threatened with demolition.
North Shore Line 716 (modernized) and 409 (repainted) on new right-of-way in Glencoe on the Shore Line Route, circa 1940.
North Shore Line Birney car 335 in Milwaukee in the late 1940s. (Don Ross Photo)
A two-car train of CTA 4000-series “L” cars is at the Marion Street station in Oak Park, circa 1959. We are looking west along South Boulevard. This portion of the Lake Street “L” was moved onto the adjacent Chicago & North Western embankment in 1962.
Don’s Rail Photos (via archive.org): “(North Shore Line) 500 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1909. It was rebuilt to one man and transferred to Waukegan on November 23, 1923. It was retired in 1948 and sold for scrap in 1949.” Here it is at Naval Station Great Lakes non June 4, 1939. (La Mar M. Kelley Photo)
Milwaukee Rapid Transit and Speedrail car 65. Don’s Rail Photos (via archive.org): “65 was built by Cincinnati Car in August 1928, #2985, as I&SE 230. In 1933 it was sold to ICRT as 230 and in 1941 it was sold to SHRT as 65. In 1949 it was sold to Ed Tennyson and leased as Speedrail 65 where it originally operated with a modified Shaker Heights paint scheme. When repainted, the Speedrail logo was omitted. It was scrapped in 1952.”
Bankruptcies were rife among interurbans and railroads in general. This letter, to an apparent shareholder of the AE&C, predecessor of the CA&E, advises him that the stock of the earlier firm was worthless. When the CA&E emerged from bankruptcy in the late 1940s, it owned substantial land assets, and had discharged its debts. This set the stage, in the postwar era, for its eventual abandonment and liquidation.
This famous photo of Tower 18, located at the intersection of Lake Street and Wells Street on the Loop “L”, was taken when it was the busiest railroad junction in the world.
CA&E suburban streetcar 500, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1927. Here, it has seen better days. It was not the same car as North Shore Line streetcar 500, but was eventually sold to the NSL and renumbered as 361. Don’s Rail Photos (via archive.org): “There was one additional car which almost fits into this series. Car 361 was built by St. Louis Car in 1927, just like the 350s, but it had different motors, control, and braking equipment. It was built as 500 for the Chicago Aurora & Elgin. It was used to replace standard interurban cars on the Batavia branch, but it quickly proved to be unsatisfactory. It was retired and placed in storage until June 1942, when it was leased to the North Shore. It was repainted and renumbered and put into Waukegan service. After the war, it was purchased by the North Shore in March 1947. It was quickly retired and scrapped in 1948.”
The interior of CA&E streetcar 500, which later became North Shore Line 361. The photo number dates this to around 1931.
The CA&E right-of-way in Wheaton is at right, with the Chicago & North Western at left, in the 1950s.
The Chicago Rapid Transit Company’s Wells Street Terminal was the CA&E’s hub and just steps away from the Loop “L” via a direct connection walkway. It received a major renovation and a new façade, seen here upon completion on October 28, 1927. That looks like a 1927 Chevrolet parked out front.
This and the next image give a good idea of the CA&E fares and service to Elmhurst as of 1936.
The view looking east into the Wells Street Terminal. That’s the Insurance Exchange Building in the background. This picture probably dates to sometime between 1912 and 1927.
The view along the CA&E main line, looking east from Poplar Avenue in Elmhurst on July 13, 1931.
Don’s Rail Photos (via archive.org): “144 was built by American Car in August 1910, #846, as C&ME 403, a parlor-buffet car. In March 1918 it was rebuilt as a straight coach. It was retired in 1935 and leased to the CA&E as 144. It came back in 1945 and then was sold to the CA&E in 1946. It was retired in 1953.”
The CA&E “flag stop” at the Glen Oak Country Club in Glen Ellyn. Anyone who wanted the train to stop would need to use the signal to get trains to stop. From the Wikipedia: “Glen Oak Country Club is a country club and private golf course in Glen Ellyn, Illinois that was designed by Tom Bendelow and established in 1911. On January 7, 1909, the Pickwick Country Club was created. It had a 9-hole golf course, eventually expanded to 18 holes. Within a year, the club went bankrupt. In 1911, the property was purchased and reopened as the current Glen Oak Country Club. In the past bordering the club to the north- which is the Prairie Path today, was an interurban train stop. Many members lived in Chicago and would take the train out of the city to this club. Upon exit, a carriage would take the members along Hill Ave to the club house.” The number on this photo would date it to circa 1927.
A close-up of the previous image. The sign touts “frequent high-speed electrically powered trains to the western suburbs and Fox River Valley cities.”
The CA&E’s Lockwood Yard was a short distance west of Laramie Avenue (5200 W) in Chicago, where the interurban’s tracks ended and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company’s began. This was a convenient place for the CA&E to store railcars in mid-day. 418 and 431 were among the ones stored here on April 18, 1938, when this picture was taken. The view looks west, with Loretto Hospital in the distance. The CA&E main line, also used by CRT “L” trains to Forest Park and Westchester, is at left. The area to the left is now occupied by I-290, the Eisenhower expressway. At this stage, the small yard used overhead wire, but this was later converted to third rail. After the Chicago Transit Authority purchased the fixed CA&E’s fixed assets between here and Forest Park in 1953, the CTA stored wooden “L” cars here after they were retired.
CA&E 403 picks up passengers on the streets of downtown Aurora on April 18, 1938. By the end of the following year, the trains were relocated to an off-street terminal by the Fox River.
The CA&E interurban terminal in Aurora on April 18, 1938.
A close-up of the previous picture.
A view of the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Terminal at Wells Street on April 16, 1926, just prior to renovation, The facade was redone, and a couple of additional stories added to it to improve the station amenities. This picture was taken from the nearby Loop “L” station at Quincy and Wells. CA&E car 408 is at left.
CA&E 421 on September 23, 1927. It was built by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927, so this is how it looked when new.
A side view of CA&E 402, 400, and 405. These were among the first steel cars on the Roarin’ Elgin and were built by Pullman in 1923. That may also be the date of this photo. (A. F. Scholz Photo)
Finally, here is an image that for whatever reason got uploaded in 2019, yet never got used in a blog post… until now:
CTA 4362, a Pullman PCC, on Route 8 – Halsted, most likely in the late 1940s. The late Jeff Wien adds, “Rt. 8 car has just pulled off of Broadway onto Waveland to head south on Halsted to 79th Street loop. Photo ca 1951 when Halsted was operated with PCCs, most Pullmans.”
Day Trip to Wisconsin
I spent the day in southern Wisconsin on May 27. After having brunch at the historic Franks Diner in Kenosha, I spent time at the East Troy Railroad Museum, where I rode North Shore Line car 761 for the first time. Later on, I drove to Milwaukee, and took a few pictures of The Hop streetcar.
The weather that day was perfect, which made for some great pictures.
The Franks Diner started out as a prefabricated building, towed there by horses. It was later expanded with an addition. It is a popular place.
East Troy sells two of my books in their gift shop.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
The North Shore Line
FYI, my new Arcadia Publishing book The North Shore Line is now available for immediate shipment. My publisher decided to expand it to 160 pages, instead of the usual 128. That’s a 25% increase, without any change to the $23.99 price. I am quite pleased with how this turned out.
From the back cover:
As late as 1963, it was possible to board high-speed electric trains on Chicago’s famous Loop “L” that ran 90 miles north to Milwaukee. This was the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad, commonly known as the North Shore Line. It rose from humble origins in the 1890s as a local streetcar line in Waukegan to eventually become America’s fastest interurban under the visionary management of Midwest utilities tycoon Samuel Insull. The North Shore Line, under Insull, became a worthy competitor to the established steam railroads. Hobbled by the Great Depression, the road fought back in 1941 with two streamlined, air-conditioned, articulated trains called Electroliners, which included dining service. It regained its popularity during World War II, when gasoline and tires were rationed, but eventually, it fell victim to highways and the automobile. The North Shore Line had intercity rail, commuter rail, electric freight, city streetcars, and even buses. It has been gone for nearly 60 years, but it will always remain the Road of Service.
Each copy purchased here will be signed by the author, and you will also receive a bonus North Shore Line map. Books will ship by USPS Media Mail.
02. The Milwaukee Division
03. The Shore Line Route
04. The Skokie Valley Route
05. The Mundelein Branch
06. On the “L”
07. City Streetcars
08. Trolley Freight
09. The Long Goodbye
10. The Legacy
Title The North Shore Line
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2023
ISBN 1467108960, 978-1467108966
Length 160 pages
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
For Shipping to US Addresses:
New Compact Disc, Now Available:
The Last Chicago Streetcars 1958
# of Discs – 1
Until now, it seemed as though audio recordings of Chicago streetcars were practically non-existent. For whatever reason, the late William A. Steventon does not appear to have made any for his Railroad Record Club, even though he did make other recordings in the Chicago area in 1956.
Now, audio recordings of the last runs of Chicago streetcars have been found, in the collections of the late Jeffrey L. Wien (who was one of the riders on that last car). We do not know who made these recordings, but this must have been done using a portable reel-to-reel machine.
These important recordings will finally fill a gap in transit history. The last Chicago Transit Authority streetcar finished its run in the early hours of June 21, 1958. Now you can experience these events just as Chicagoans did.
As a bonus, we have included Keeping Pace, a 1939 Chicago Surface Lines employee training program. This was digitally transferred from an original 16” transcription disc. These recordings were unheard for 80 years.
Total time – 74:38
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