Posters Plus

Today, we are featuring lots of poster images from the Samuel Insull era in Chicago transit, the early 1900s, thanks to the generosity of Jim Huffman. For some years, the Insull interests owned the Chicago Rapid Transit Company, as well as all three major Chicago-area interurban railroads, the North Shore Line, South Shore Line, and Chicago Aurora & Elgin. Therefore, it should not be too surprising that there was a lot of similarity in their advertising posters.

There is a current special exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago called Everyone’s Art Gallery: Posters of the London Underground, and these posters appear to have influenced Chicago’s.

You may also want to check out Keeping Everyone in the Loop: 50 Years of Chicago “L” Graphics, by our friend J. J. Sedelmaier.

Finally, we have Bill Shapotkin‘s reminiscences of two recently departed railfans, Roy Benedict and Myron Lane.


-David Sadowski

PS- There are multiple versions of some posters… and, there are also a few “ringers,” modern posters inspired by the originals, pamphlets, etc. etc.

From the Collections of Jim Huffman

“Ringers” by Mitch Markovitz

Mitch Markovitz is a well-known and very talented artist, who is also a student of history. You would be forgiven if you mistook some of his modern-day works for classic transit posters.

Poster painting image used with permission, Copyright Mitch Markovitz.

Poster painting image used with permission, Copyright Mitch Markovitz.

Poster painting image used with permission, Copyright Mitch Markovitz.

Poster painting image used with permission, Copyright Mitch Markovitz.

Poster painting image used with permission, Copyright Mitch Markovitz.

Recent Correspondence

William Shapotkin writes:

Two long-time friends and members or the rail/transit enthusiast community passed away within the last week or so. Myron Lane (Friday, July 5th), was born June 15, 1951. Myron was one of, if not the best known Chicago-area bus photographers around. Myron took tons and tons and tons of slides over the years. His widow (Brenda, who I have not spoken with) is aware that his material does NOT belong in the dumpster and that disposition of same is pending.

Myron had been in poor health for a number of years. It had been at least two months since I last spoke with him, as he was often too ill to talk. We did do some photo work together — traveling to Kenosha, WI (at least twice), following a chartered Amtrak train to Illinois Railway Museum and, of course, a number of Omnibus Society of America fantrips. We even worked together for a number of years at the RTA Travel Information Center. “Mr Lane” was a WONDERFUL photographer. He would often stand at a given location for as along as an hour to get the “right” pix (i.e.: no autos or pedestrian traffic in sight, correct destination sign display, lighting, etc.). Have a number of fine examples of his work in my collection. Will miss him greatly.

While on vacation in the wilds of Wisconsin, I was saddened by the death of long-time friend and fellow rail/transit enthusiast Roy G Benedict. Roy, a bachelor and life-long Chicagoan passed away suddenly on/about June 29th. A retired high school teacher, Roy had worked tirelessly in the study and preparation of electric traction history — more especially in the Chicagoland area.

He worked as a cartographer on a large number of Bulletins for the Central Electric Railfans’ Association for over 55 years. An accomplished author, he wrote numerous articles and was editor of FIRST AND FASTEST, quarterly publication of the Shoreline Interurban Historical Society — the staff of which my late wife, Rosemarie and myself served with him for some two years in the early 2000s.

I met Roy shortly after joining CERA in 1973. He was very knowledgeable on the history and operations of streetcar, interurban and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area and was almost always the “go to” guy when questions arose regarding those subjects. Aside from a great personal knowledge, he had a library of research work, including books, journals (compiled by himself and others), maps and notes from the collection of James J. Buckley. Aside from his work on CERA Bulletins, he spent many hours with me pouring over my own work, FASTER THAN THE LIMITEDS, the story of the Chicago-New York Electric Air Line and successor Gary Railways. He was by far the most major contributor of material for that book and assisted me in proofreading and preparation… without his invaluable assistance the finished work would have been far less satisfying.

Roy and I made numerous “field trips,” more especially with the late John Van Kuiken, searching for and documenting the routes of the Chicago Interurban Traction, Illinois Valley Lines, Sterling Dixon and Eastern, Winona Railroad (the one in Indiana — NOT the one in Minnesota) and the streetcar lines of Dixon, Joliet, La Salle, Ottawa, Streator and other towns and cities in the Chicago area. He kept maticulas notes and had data bases covering existing electric railway facilities (carbarns, substations, etc.) of the area — which have proved invaluable to me in doing my own research.

Roy also introduced me to the Hoosier Traction Meet — held annually in Indianapolis, IN the weekend after Labor Day. Well, he did not introduce me to the meet, what he really did was recruit me (as program (auditorium) manager) — a duty which I have undertaken for some 15 years now. We communicated regularly (sometimes as often as four times a week) by phone, often spending hours discussing a given subject and often pouring over maps while doing so.

Roy was 78 years old. The first realization that something was not right was when he did not show up at the designated time/place to be picked up for a trip to the Illinois Railway Museum on Sunday, June 30th. A check of his home found him dead on Monday, July 1st. As I was out-of-town at the time and unable to advise anyone (other than by phone) of his passing. He had made all of his final arrangements thru Craig Moffat (brother of long-time friend Bruce Moffat). His remains will be cremated and there is to be no memorial service. Understand (thru my numerous conversations with Roy) that his collection of books, papers, etc. is to be turned over to the Illinois Railway Museum’s Strahorn Library — where it will be preserved for future generations of historians to use in their research.

The attached photo of Roy was taken October 2016 by Eric Bronsky while at Bob Olson’s South Bend Electric Railway.

The loss of a friend is always difficult. Roy’s passing is more especially so. We spent so much time together in compiling, proofreading and writing material and well as traveling along and being involved with CERA, Hoosier Traction Meet and Shoreline Interurban Historical Society. His passing leaves a major hole in my soul… it was a great honor and a privilege to have known him. I and the rail/transit enthusiast community were blessed for having him. Roy, you are already greatly missed.

Bill Shapotkin

Now Available On Compact Disc
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

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

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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