Reflections in a Golden Wye

This photo, showing a mirror at the North Shore Line's Milwaukee terminal, was taken on January 21, 1963 (after abandonment) by Allan Y. Scott for the Milwaukee Journal. You can see the photographer in the picture, apparently using a Leica M2 or M3. This picture came from the collection of the late John Horachek. Rather than being a double exposure, it seems like the ghostly image of an Electroliner was applied to the mirror using a stencil and a product known as Glass Wax.

This photo, showing a mirror at the North Shore Line’s Milwaukee terminal, was taken on January 21, 1963 (after abandonment) by Allan Y. Scott for the Milwaukee Journal. You can see the photographer in the picture, apparently using a Leica M2 or M3. This picture came from the collection of the late John Horachek. Rather than being a double exposure, it seems like the ghostly image of an Electroliner was applied to the mirror using a stencil and a product known as Glass Wax.

For today’s post, we are going back in time, often even further back in time than we usually do, to feature some important historical images. Each one is like a small ray of light, that form a beacon when taken together, illuminating the past, like the reflections in a mirror.

It’s the earliest, and oldest pictures that are the hardest to find. So, we’ve had to redouble our efforts to seek them out.

In addition, we have important news about our new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s. We recently received a small number of “author’s copies” from the publisher, and the book is now a reality. We hope you will like the results.

Our initial order is on the way to us, and we are confident that we will soon begin shipping out books to our contributors and everyone who has ordered one in our pre-sale. All such books should be in the post prior to the July 12 release date.

More information about Chicago’s Lost “L”s, including how to order, can be found at the end of this post, or you can click on the link at the top of this page to go to our Online Store.

We would like to thank Kevin Horachek, Andre Kristopans, and William Shapotkin for their contributions to this post.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

As a practical matter, color photography didn't exist in 1910, which is the postmark date of this postcard showing the Lake Street "L" at ground level in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago's west side. The view looks west from Central Avenue along South Boulevard (or, more appropriately, Lake Street, since the name did not change until the line reached suburban Oak Park). The "L" was extended there in 1901. This colorized photo may date to a bit before 1910, though, as by then, the Chicago & North Western trains, which ran parallel to the "L", had already been raised onto the embankment where the "L" joined them in 1962. This is a westbound train, as Lake Street ran left handed in those days (as did the C&NW).

As a practical matter, color photography didn’t exist in 1910, which is the postmark date of this postcard showing the Lake Street “L” at ground level in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s west side. The view looks west from Central Avenue along South Boulevard (or, more appropriately, Lake Street, since the name did not change until the line reached suburban Oak Park). The “L” was extended there in 1901. This colorized photo may date to a bit before 1910, though, as by then, the Chicago & North Western trains, which ran parallel to the “L”, had already been raised onto the embankment where the “L” joined them in 1962. This is a westbound train, as Lake Street ran left handed in those days (as did the C&NW).

The same location today. This portion of Lake Street was renamed to Corcoran Place in the mid-1960s, to honor the late Chicago Alderman in this area, who was a close friend of Mayor Richard J. Daley. Lake Street used to run north and south of the two railroads here for a few blocks between Pine Avenue and Austin Boulevard. There were no duplicate street numbers.

The same location today. This portion of Lake Street was renamed to Corcoran Place in the mid-1960s, to honor the late Chicago Alderman in this area, who was a close friend of Mayor Richard J. Daley. Lake Street used to run north and south of the two railroads here for a few blocks between Pine Avenue and Austin Boulevard. There were no duplicate street numbers.

I recently purchased this turn-of-the-century photo showing a Chicago Union Traction streetcar on the Lincoln Avenue line. CUT existed from 1899 to 1908, when it was absorbed into Chicago Railways. Sharpshooter's Park is where Riverview Amusement Park opened in 1904, which narrows down the time of this photo to circa 1899-1903. But the car itself looks like the "Matchbox" type, which was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1903. Car 1374 in this series has been restored and is at the Illinois Railway Museum. In 2015, the body of car 1137 was found in Wisconsin, where it had been used as an addition to someone's house. It is now in Grass Lake, MI.

I recently purchased this turn-of-the-century photo showing a Chicago Union Traction streetcar on the Lincoln Avenue line. CUT existed from 1899 to 1908, when it was absorbed into Chicago Railways. Sharpshooter’s Park is where Riverview Amusement Park opened in 1904, which narrows down the time of this photo to circa 1899-1903. But the car itself looks like the “Matchbox” type, which was built by St. Louis Car Company in 1903. Car 1374 in this series has been restored and is at the Illinois Railway Museum. In 2015, the body of car 1137 was found in Wisconsin, where it had been used as an addition to someone’s house. It is now in Grass Lake, MI.

CSL "Sedan" (aka Peter Witt) 6283 appears to be southbound on Clark, just south of downtown, in this circa 1940 photo. Don's Rail Photos: "6283 was built by CSL in 1929." This might seem unusual, that the Surface Lines had the capability or even the desire to build their own streetcars. But CSL was very much involved with the project that eventually created the PCC car just a few years after this, and it was CSL and not the ERPCC that had the two experimental pre-PCCs (4001 and 7001) built in 1934. Eventually, the CTA became the largest stockholder in the Transit Research Corporation, the successor to the ERPCC.

CSL “Sedan” (aka Peter Witt) 6283 appears to be southbound on Clark, just south of downtown, in this circa 1940 photo. Don’s Rail Photos: “6283 was built by CSL in 1929.” This might seem unusual, that the Surface Lines had the capability or even the desire to build their own streetcars. But CSL was very much involved with the project that eventually created the PCC car just a few years after this, and it was CSL and not the ERPCC that had the two experimental pre-PCCs (4001 and 7001) built in 1934. Eventually, the CTA became the largest stockholder in the Transit Research Corporation, the successor to the ERPCC.

Chicago Surface Line experimental pre-PCC 4001 in 1935, running on Route 22 - Clark-Wentworth. 40001 was built in 1934 by Pullman-Standard and was retired in 1944. The body has survived and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Here, it still has the striped trolley pole.

Chicago Surface Line experimental pre-PCC 4001 in 1935, running on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. 40001 was built in 1934 by Pullman-Standard and was retired in 1944. The body has survived and is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Here, it still has the striped trolley pole.

Chicago Surface Lines experimental pre-PCC 7001 on Route 22 - Clark-Wentworth in 1935. It was built by Brill in 1934 and retired in 1944, scrapped in 1959. Here, it already appears to have a dent on the front end.

Chicago Surface Lines experimental pre-PCC 7001 on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth in 1935. It was built by Brill in 1934 and retired in 1944, scrapped in 1959. Here, it already appears to have a dent on the front end.

Don's Rail Photos: "51 was built by the SP&S in August 1941. It was purchased by the North Shore in December 1947 and was completed as 459 on November 22, 1948." Here it is at the Portland yard on September 9, 1946.

Don’s Rail Photos: “51 was built by the SP&S in August 1941. It was purchased by the North Shore in December 1947 and was completed as 459 on November 22, 1948.” Here it is at the Portland yard on September 9, 1946.

A two-car train of North Shore Line Silverliners in Milwaukee in 1962. Larry Sakar writes: "The train is northbound at the north end of the 6th Street viaduct (which no longer exists). Below it on the right of the train is what was then Fowler Street. Today, that is St. Paul Ave which in NSL days used to end at 6th St. All of that changed when The Milwaukee Road built their new station at 5th St. Impending construction of the Marquette interchange and the end of the Milwaukee Road's 4th & everett St. station gave the city the opportunity to continue St. Paul Ave. beneath 6th St. to connect with then Fowler St. which then became the continuation of W. St. Paul Ave. The warehouse next to the train is also long gone. If you were standing here today you would be looking at the Milwaukee Intermodal station on the right and the main Post Office immediately next door east. If you look two blocks down on the left that is where the present day HOP Streetcar terminates. The train is northbound at the north end of the 6th Street viaduct (which no longer exists). Below it on the right of the train is what was then Fowler Street. Today, that is St. Paul Ave which in NSL days used to end at 6th St. All of that changed when The Milwaukee Road built their new station at 5th St. Impending construction of the Marquette interchange and the end of the Milwaukee Road's 4th & everett St. station gave the city the opportunity to continue St. Paul Ave. beneath 6th St. to connect with then Fowler St. which then became the continuation of W. St. Paul Ave. The warehouse next to the train is also long gone. If you were standing here today you would be looking at the Milwaukee Intermodal station on the right and the main Post Office immediately next door east. If you look two blocks down on the left that is where the present day HOP Streetcar terminates."

A two-car train of North Shore Line Silverliners in Milwaukee in 1962. Larry Sakar writes: “The train is northbound at the north end of the 6th Street viaduct (which no longer exists). Below it on the right of the train is what was then Fowler Street. Today, that is St. Paul Ave which in NSL days used to end at 6th St. All of that changed when The Milwaukee Road built their new station at 5th St. Impending construction of the Marquette interchange and the end of the Milwaukee Road’s 4th & everett St. station gave the city the opportunity to continue St. Paul Ave. beneath 6th St. to connect with then Fowler St. which then became the continuation of W. St. Paul Ave. The warehouse next to the train is also long gone. If you were standing here today you would be looking at the Milwaukee Intermodal station on the right and the main Post Office immediately next door east. If you look two blocks down on the left that is where the present day HOP Streetcar terminates. The train is northbound at the north end of the 6th Street viaduct (which no longer exists). Below it on the right of the train is what was then Fowler Street. Today, that is St. Paul Ave which in NSL days used to end at 6th St. All of that changed when The Milwaukee Road built their new station at 5th St. Impending construction of the Marquette interchange and the end of the Milwaukee Road’s 4th & everett St. station gave the city the opportunity to continue St. Paul Ave. beneath 6th St. to connect with then Fowler St. which then became the continuation of W. St. Paul Ave. The warehouse next to the train is also long gone. If you were standing here today you would be looking at the Milwaukee Intermodal station on the right and the main Post Office immediately next door east. If you look two blocks down on the left that is where the present day HOP Streetcar terminates.”

A Chicago & North Western train of bi-levels at the Milwaukee station on the Lakefront in 1962.

A Chicago & North Western train of bi-levels at the Milwaukee station on the Lakefront in 1962.

This is how the Chicago & North Western's right-of-way looked in Winnetka in July 1964. We are looking south from Elm Street. This area was grade-separated around 1940, with some financial help from the federal government through the PWA agency, in a similar fashion to how Chicago's Initial System of Subways was built. The North Shore Line's Shore Line Route ran at left until July 1955. (William Shapotkin Collection)

This is how the Chicago & North Western’s right-of-way looked in Winnetka in July 1964. We are looking south from Elm Street. This area was grade-separated around 1940, with some financial help from the federal government through the PWA agency, in a similar fashion to how Chicago’s Initial System of Subways was built. The North Shore Line’s Shore Line Route ran at left until July 1955. (William Shapotkin Collection)

An eastbound Lake Street "L" train is in Oak Park in July 1960, running alongside South Boulevard. (William Shapotkin Collection)

An eastbound Lake Street “L” train is in Oak Park in July 1960, running alongside South Boulevard. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound C&NW commuter train stops in Oak Park in July 1960. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound C&NW commuter train stops in Oak Park in July 1960. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound Chicago & North Western commuter train departs from Oak Park in July 1960. Note the ground-level Lake Street "L" station at Marion Street at left. Just over two years later, the "L" was moved to this embankment. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A westbound Chicago & North Western commuter train departs from Oak Park in July 1960. Note the ground-level Lake Street “L” station at Marion Street at left. Just over two years later, the “L” was moved to this embankment. (William Shapotkin Collection)

An eastbound C&NW "scoot" (commuter train) has just departed the Elmhurst station and is seen crossing York Road. The view looks west. (William Shapotkin Collection)

An eastbound C&NW “scoot” (commuter train) has just departed the Elmhurst station and is seen crossing York Road. The view looks west. (William Shapotkin Collection)

What was billed as Manhattan's last elevated train heads north on the Third Avenue El on May 12, 1955.

What was billed as Manhattan’s last elevated train heads north on the Third Avenue El on May 12, 1955.

CSL 5769 on Route 5 - Cottage Grove-South Chicago circa 1940. According to Don's Rail Photos, Nearside 5769 "was built by Brill Car Co in 1912, (order) #18322, It was retired on November 8, 1948."

CSL 5769 on Route 5 – Cottage Grove-South Chicago circa 1940. According to Don’s Rail Photos, Nearside 5769 “was built by Brill Car Co in 1912, (order) #18322, It was retired on November 8, 1948.”

CSL Pullman 621, signed for Clark and Devon, is apparently running on Route 22 and headed north on Clark, having just passed Lake Street in this circa 1940 scene. The Shreve Building, built in 1875, was located at the northwest corner of Clark and Lake. Its construction was supervised by William Warren Boyington (1818-1898), who designed the landmark Chicago Water Tower. Not sure when it was demolished.

CSL Pullman 621, signed for Clark and Devon, is apparently running on Route 22 and headed north on Clark, having just passed Lake Street in this circa 1940 scene. The Shreve Building, built in 1875, was located at the northwest corner of Clark and Lake. Its construction was supervised by William Warren Boyington (1818-1898), who designed the landmark Chicago Water Tower. Not sure when it was demolished.

CSL pre-war PCC 7024 is eastbound on Madison Street at Mayfield Avenue (5900 W.) circa 1940.

CSL pre-war PCC 7024 is eastbound on Madison Street at Mayfield Avenue (5900 W.) circa 1940.

CSL Pullman 329 is on Route 21 - Cermak Road, possibly at the west end of the line, circa 1940.

CSL Pullman 329 is on Route 21 – Cermak Road, possibly at the west end of the line, circa 1940.

CSL 1801 is signed for Adams-Downtown in this circa 1940 photo. Part of Route 7 - Harrison Street went downtown via Adams Street. A nearby truck is delivering Ogden's Milk.

CSL 1801 is signed for Adams-Downtown in this circa 1940 photo. Part of Route 7 – Harrison Street went downtown via Adams Street. A nearby truck is delivering Ogden’s Milk.

The U.S. Patent Office in Washington, DC in the 1920s, with a streetcar out front, apparently powered by conduit via a electric plow running in a trough between the two rails.

The U.S. Patent Office in Washington, DC in the 1920s, with a streetcar out front, apparently powered by conduit via a electric plow running in a trough between the two rails.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 403 at Laramie Avenue on July 19, 1933. It was described as "red with gold trim." 403 was a Pullman product, built in 1923. Sister car 409 is at the Illinois Railway Museum. The view looks to the northeast.

Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 403 at Laramie Avenue on July 19, 1933. It was described as “red with gold trim.” 403 was a Pullman product, built in 1923. Sister car 409 is at the Illinois Railway Museum. The view looks to the northeast.

CTA trolley bus 9421 on February 12, 1973. Andre Kristopans adds, "Trolley bus 9421 SB on Pulaski at Sunnyside (4500 N). Old police station, now community center, on right." William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9421 on February 12, 1973. Andre Kristopans adds, “Trolley bus 9421 SB on Pulaski at Sunnyside (4500 N). Old police station, now community center, on right.”
William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 9458 on February 10, 1973. (Michael N. Charnota Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Bill Jas: "The pic of the Pulaski trolley bus is just North of Grand. You can see the old streetcar power house on the right. The same building that later collapsed onto Jimmy’s Hot Dog Stand."

CTA trolley bus 9458 on February 10, 1973. (Michael N. Charnota Photo, William Shapotkin Collection) Bill Jas: “The pic of the Pulaski trolley bus is just North of Grand. You can see the old streetcar power house on the right. The same building that later collapsed onto Jimmy’s Hot Dog Stand.”

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric

The North Shore Line started out as the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric, before it was reorganized by Samuel Insull in 1916. Here are some early photos that reflect that history.

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric station in Lake Forest. It was torn down around 1970, 15 years after the last North Shore Line trains ran here on the Shore Line Route.

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric station in Lake Forest. It was torn down around 1970, 15 years after the last North Shore Line trains ran here on the Shore Line Route.

A close-up of the previous image, showing Chicago & Milwaukee Electric car 10. It was built by Pullman in 1899.

A close-up of the previous image, showing Chicago & Milwaukee Electric car 10. It was built by Pullman in 1899.

After the North Shore Line abandoned service on the Shore Line Route in 1955, their former Lake Forest station was used as a campaign headquarters in the 1956 presidential election. (Chicago Tribune Photo)

After the North Shore Line abandoned service on the Shore Line Route in 1955, their former Lake Forest station was used as a campaign headquarters in the 1956 presidential election. (Chicago Tribune Photo)

A Chicago & Milwaukee electric buffet observation car, from an undated postcard. Don's Rail Photos: "401 was built by Jewett Car in 1909 as parlor-buffet car. In 1917 it was converted to straight coach and retired in 1935. It was leased to Chicago Aurora & Elgin and renumbered 142 in 1936. It came back for a short time with the CA&E number in 1945 and sold to CA&E in 1946. It was retired in 1953."

A Chicago & Milwaukee electric buffet observation car, from an undated postcard. Don’s Rail Photos: “401 was built by Jewett Car in 1909 as parlor-buffet car. In 1917 it was converted to straight coach and retired in 1935. It was leased to Chicago Aurora & Elgin and renumbered 142 in 1936. It came back for a short time with the CA&E number in 1945 and sold to CA&E in 1946. It was retired in 1953.”

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric's Zion station, from a postcard postmarked 1911. The religious fanatics who started this town made the interurban build a large station, in anticipation of rapid growth that did not occur.

The Chicago & Milwaukee Electric’s Zion station, from a postcard postmarked 1911. The religious fanatics who started this town made the interurban build a large station, in anticipation of rapid growth that did not occur.

The Chicago & Milwaukee electric station in Libertyville, from a real photo postcard postmarked 1906.

The Chicago & Milwaukee electric station in Libertyville, from a real photo postcard postmarked 1906.

Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Birney car 334 at 6th and Clybourn in Milwaukee. Don's Rail Photos: "334 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in December 1922, #2625. It was retired in 1947 and scrapped in April 1948." The C&ME name was used on these North Shore Line city streetcars, since that was the franchise holder in Milwaukee.

Chicago & Milwaukee Electric Birney car 334 at 6th and Clybourn in Milwaukee. Don’s Rail Photos: “334 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in December 1922, #2625. It was retired in 1947 and scrapped in April 1948.” The C&ME name was used on these North Shore Line city streetcars, since that was the franchise holder in Milwaukee.

North Shore Line wood car 305 (former Chicago & Milwaukee Electric) in Kenilworth circa 1930, running as a Chicago local on the Shore Line Route. Don's Rail Photos: " 303 thru 305 were built by American Car in 1910 and were almost identical. In 1939 they became sleet cutters and were retired and scrapped in 1940." (Kenilworth Historical Society)

North Shore Line wood car 305 (former Chicago & Milwaukee Electric) in Kenilworth circa 1930, running as a Chicago local on the Shore Line Route. Don’s Rail Photos: ” 303 thru 305 were built by American Car in 1910 and were almost identical. In 1939 they became sleet cutters and were retired and scrapped in 1940.” (Kenilworth Historical Society)

Did Not Win

They say you can’t win ’em all, and we certainly don’t. But while we did not win the auctions for these images, they definitely still worth looking at:

1899 New York City Shopping @ 22nd St & 6th Avenue L Train Glass Photo Negative recently sold for $247.50. Looks like the 6th Avenue line was still using steam power then.

1899 New York City Shopping @ 22nd St & 6th Avenue L Train Glass Photo Negative recently sold for $247.50. Looks like the 6th Avenue line was still using steam power then.

I did not win this auction, but I still think this is a pretty neat picture, of a four-car train of CTA 4000s southbound at Bryn Mawr in 1970. This is a southbound Evanston Express. By then, only freight locos were using the overhead wire here.

I did not win this auction, but I still think this is a pretty neat picture, of a four-car train of CTA 4000s southbound at Bryn Mawr in 1970. This is a southbound Evanston Express. By then, only freight locos were using the overhead wire here.

The following three glass plate negatives were identified as “1915 New York 7th Ave Subway Explosion Collapse 7 Dead.”

The next three glass plate images show women working as streetcar conductors on the New York Railways during World War I:

North Shore Line box motor 230 at the Milwaukee Terminal in 1941. By the late 1950s, the apartment building at rear had been torn down.

North Shore Line box motor 230 at the Milwaukee Terminal in 1941. By the late 1950s, the apartment building at rear had been torn down.

Book Review:

From Garfield ‘L’ to Blue Line Rapid Transit
by David A. Wilson
Dispatch Number 11 of the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society

Congratulations to David Wilson on his excellent new book From Garfield ‘L’ to Blue Line Rapid Transit. I would naturally like this book, since these are subjects I have written about extensively, in my own books and blogs.

Like many other people my age, I became fascinated with the extensive changes going on in the west side during the late 1950s, as construction of the Congress Expressway proceeded west and approached suburban Oak Park. I recall seeing the Garfield Park “L” and Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban trains, but I never rode on them. We mostly took the Lake Street “L” downtown, and until 1962, that still ran on the ground west of Laramie.

I recall seeing “L” cars parked in Lockwood Yard, and I vividly remember our first drives on the new Congress Expressway, which partially opened in 1955, although it only went as far as Laramie Avenue (5200 W.). It was extended in stages in 1960, first to Central Avenue (5600 W.), and then all the way through Oak Park and Forest Park, to connect with existing highways west of there. I have naturally been a frequent rider on the Congress line (today’s Forest Park branch of the Blue Line) my whole life.

So, I have been interested in learning the details of how all this came to be for a long time, and I have been researching this subject ever since I was a small child. This interest culminated in my 2018 Arcadia book Building Chicago’s Subways, which is available from our Online Store and elsewhere.

The approach I took with that book was a comprehensive overview of the entire subject of Chicago Subways, starting with the river tunnels, first opened in 1869, the extensive downtown freight tunnel system, the various subway plans that were hashed out over 40 years, the Initial System of Subways (first started in 1938), and its culmination in the West Side Subway in 1958, as the Congress rapid transit line was originally known.

This is a large topic, and therefore it should hardly be possible for anyone to have the “last word” on these matters. Chances are, after we are all long gone, others will still find new things to say.

Dave Wilson has lived in Oak Park for a long time, and is also fascinated with this history.  His new book concentrates on just the transition from the Garfield “L” to the current Blue Line setup, and therefore it goes into greater detail than it was possible to do in my book. It will answer just about any questions that anyone might have had about how this all happened, excepting fanatics like me, who are constantly trying to learn more. (In fact, I bring up a few additional related topics later on in this post.)

Now that I have a few volumes under my belt, I tend to pay close attention to editorial decisions that others make, in their own works. This book packs a lot of information into its pages, and it should be no surprise that a few compromises had to be made.  There are only so many pages to fill in any book, something I know from personal experience.

Unfortunately there is no biographical information about the author, and I wish there were. I have known Dave Wilson for a long time, and he has been an avid railfan photographer since his teenage years. He has scanned thousands of his images, and has posted them to Flickr, for all to enjoy. You would do well to check them out.

For a time he worked for the Wisconsin Central railroad, and later, in bus planning for the Chicago Transit Authority.

The maps in this new book are excellent, and were made by Dennis McClendon, who always does fine work. In fact, he also did the book layout, which is attractive and skillfully done.

The photo selection is excellent. While there are a few images that also appear in Building Chicago’s Subways, they are great images in both books.

Another editorial decision was to include some lo-res images in the book. One in particular is rather pixilated, but in general when the image quality suffers, those images are made smaller in turn, so this is less noticeable. I am probably the only person who would notice this, though.  Any author has to collect the best images that are available, and they are not all going to be of the same resolution.

There is yet another book I can recommend, if you are still interested in learning why it was not possible to save the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, despite the best efforts of three powerful Illinois politicians (Mayor Richard J. Daley, Governor William Stratton, and Cook County Board President Dan Ryan): Political Influence by Edward C. Banfield, originally published in 1961 by the Free Press of Glencoe.  I covered that book extensively in a 2015 blog post that you can read here.

In the meantime, I can wholeheartedly recommend David Wilson’s book, which is available anywhere that Shore Line products are sold. They are called Dispatches, even though the North Shore Line used the unusual spelling “despatch” back in the day.

Garfield Park, Where Are You?

A portion of a CTA track map dated October 1955. The tracks curved south west of Lockwood, unlike the way it appears here.

A portion of a CTA track map dated October 1955. The tracks curved south west of Lockwood, unlike the way it appears here.

As you can see here, the Garfield "L" ran straight east and west through Laramie Yard between Laramie (5200 W.) and Lavergne (5000 W.). (From a CTA track map dated October 1955.)

As you can see here, the Garfield “L” ran straight east and west through Laramie Yard between Laramie (5200 W.) and Lavergne (5000 W.). (From a CTA track map dated October 1955.)

For many years, I have been interested in just where the old Garfield Park “L” once ran. By 1960, it was completely replaced by the current Forest Park branch of the Blue Line (formerly the Congress line), most of which runs in the median of I-290.

The Chicago Tribune reported on June 4, 1928 that the Chicago Rapid Transit Company wanted to expand the Garfield Park “L” from two tracks to four between Marshfield and Cicero Avenues. The article states that CRT had already purchased 60% of the necessary land for expansion via private sale.

This expansion never took place (perhaps due to the Great Depression), but naturally the idea behind it may have been a factor in planning for the Congress median line, which has space for four tracks in approximately the same locations as the 1928 CRT plan, in addition to the section east of Marshfield, which leads to four subway portals near Halsted, only two of which have ever been used.

As noted in my book Building Chicago’s Subways (Arcadia Publishing, 2018), when the highway plans were being formulated, the idea was to relocate the Lake Street “L” into the median of the expressway, via a connection either at 4600 West, or near Kedzie (3200 W.).  Lake trains would have then run next to, but separate from, regular Congress rapid transit trains.

At the subway portal, Lake trains would have continued into a new Clinton Street Subway, which would have formed a subway “Loop,” connecting with the sections on Lake, Dearborn, and Congress.  Presumably, Lake trains were intended to circle this subway Loop before heading back out towards the west side.

The City of Chicago’s goal in all this was to tear down the Loop “L”, inspired by New York City’s gradual elimination of all the elevated lines in Manhattan.  This remained the City’s plan until Mayor Jane Byrne decided the Loop “L” was worth saving after all.  Chicago eventually built a new “L” line, the Orange Line, which opened in 1993 and connects to the Loop.

I traced the old right-of-way of the Garfield Park “L” on Google Street View recently, and came to a few interesting conclusions.  Although the “L” ran pretty much in a straight line between Kedzie Avenue (3200 W.) and Lockwood Avenue (5300 W.), heading west, at times, the “L’ is south of the adjacent alleyway, and at other times, it is north of it.

In general, the Garfield line was built mid-block, but at times, the location is about 620 South, and at other times, it is more like 650 South.  Maps seem to show a slight jog just west of Tripp Avenue (4232 W.), but this doesn’t seem like a definitive explanation for the change in alignment relative to the alleys.

The “L” crossed a railroad at around 4600 West, and it’s likely that the areas west of there were not yet developed when the “L” was built.  Early photos seem to show a rather barren area.  Perhaps the alleys preceded the “L” east of here, while they were built after the “L” in the western section.

Interestingly, there weren’t alleys for the entire stretch between Kedzie and Lockwood, because Fifth Avenue, an angle street that was once an important thoroughfare, crossed through near Pulaski Road (4000 W.).  The block narrows near that location, and alleys come to an end.

In general, it seems as though the “L” ran mostly south of the alley east of Cicero Avenue (4800 W.), which was the original end-of-the-line starting in 1895.  It was extended to Laramie (5200 W.) in 1902, and west of Cicero, the “L” seems to run north of the alley.  But of course, there were no alleys in the Laramie Yard area until after the “L” was demolished and the yard removed.  There is an alley where parts of Lockwood Yard once were, but it’s possible there were still tracks in place there for perhaps a year or so after the Congress line opened in June 1958.

Here are some pictures from Google Street View:

649 S. Homan (3400 W.), looking east. Here, the "L" was definitely south of the alley.

649 S. Homan (3400 W.), looking east. Here, the “L” was definitely south of the alley.

649 S. Homan (3400 W.), looking west, showing the area south of the alley, once occupied by the Garfield Park "L".

649 S. Homan (3400 W.), looking west, showing the area south of the alley, once occupied by the Garfield Park “L”.

648 S. St. Louis (3500 W.), looking west. The "L" was south of the alley here.

648 S. St. Louis (3500 W.), looking west. The “L” was south of the alley here.

617 S. Pulaski, looking east. The cross street is Fifth Avenue, which is at an angle running northeast/southwest. The Garfield Park "L" ran east-west here, and crossed Pulaski and Fifth at the same time. The "L" ran right over the area occupied by the building near the mailbox. Not sure if it was the same building then, but parts of it do look similar. There is no alley here, due to the narrowing of this block, as Fifth Avenue approaches from the north.

617 S. Pulaski, looking east. The cross street is Fifth Avenue, which is at an angle running northeast/southwest. The Garfield Park “L” ran east-west here, and crossed Pulaski and Fifth at the same time. The “L” ran right over the area occupied by the building near the mailbox. Not sure if it was the same building then, but parts of it do look similar. There is no alley here, due to the narrowing of this block, as Fifth Avenue approaches from the north.

614 S. Karlov (4100 W.), looking west. The "L" ran south of the alley here.

614 S. Karlov (4100 W.), looking west. The “L” ran south of the alley here.

This is around 650 S. Kilbourn (4500 W.), looking southwest. There was a Garfield Park "L" station at Kilbourn, and it appears to have been south of the alley.

This is around 650 S. Kilbourn (4500 W.), looking southwest. There was a Garfield Park “L” station at Kilbourn, and it appears to have been south of the alley.

At approximately 650 S. Kolmar (4532 W.), the Chicago Transit Authority has a building. Not sure what it is used for, or if the Garfield Park "L" ran over head. It's possible that the "L" ran in the area just north of the alley here. This view looks west.

At approximately 650 S. Kolmar (4532 W.), the Chicago Transit Authority has a building. Not sure what it is used for, or if the Garfield Park “L” ran over head. It’s possible that the “L” ran in the area just north of the alley here. This view looks west.

At around 620 S. Kilpatrick (4700 W.), the Garfield Park "L" ran south of the alley. This view looks east.

At around 620 S. Kilpatrick (4700 W.), the Garfield Park “L” ran south of the alley. This view looks east.

At 650 S. Lavergne (5000 W.), the Garfield Park "L" ran just north of the alley. Laramie Yard was just west of here, and the "L" at this point was descending to ground level from the Cicero Avenue "L" station, two blocks east. This view looks east.

At 650 S. Lavergne (5000 W.), the Garfield Park “L” ran just north of the alley. Laramie Yard was just west of here, and the “L” at this point was descending to ground level from the Cicero Avenue “L” station, two blocks east. This view looks east.

The Garfield Park "L" tracks crossed Lockwood at about 650 South. A short distance west of here, they made a sweeping curve and went a bit to the south, and ran parallel to the B&OCT railroad tracks through Oak Park and Forest Park.

The Garfield Park “L” tracks crossed Lockwood at about 650 South. A short distance west of here, they made a sweeping curve and went a bit to the south, and ran parallel to the B&OCT railroad tracks through Oak Park and Forest Park.

The view looking south at 646 S. Lockwood Avenue (5300 W.), showing the hump where the Garfield Park "L" crossed here. There was no alley to the right until after the "L" was removed, as that was where Lockwood Yard had been.

The view looking south at 646 S. Lockwood Avenue (5300 W.), showing the hump where the Garfield Park “L” crossed here. There was no alley to the right until after the “L” was removed, as that was where Lockwood Yard had been.

And here are some additional clues from the CTA Transit News, reporting on the demolition of the Garfield Park (and Metropolitan main line) “L” after the Congress line opened in June 1958. They show that the “L” ran south of the alley at Kilpatrick Avenue (4700 W.) but at Lavergne Avenue (5000 W.), it was north of the alley.

The Garfield Park "L" crossed over railroad tracks at about 4600 West. Interestingly, note that between the two sides of the railroad embankment, the alley between Harrison and Flournoy is not quite in the same location.

The Garfield Park “L” crossed over railroad tracks at about 4600 West. Interestingly, note that between the two sides of the railroad embankment, the alley between Harrison and Flournoy is not quite in the same location.

Recent Correspondence

We recently wrote to fellow historian Andres Kristopans:

It has been my understanding for many years that the CTA right-of-way between the Lotus Tunnel (5400 W.) and Forest Park was planned for three tracks.

This is a self-evident fact; the tunnel has portals on both sides, there is room for a third track north of the existing two west of there, and the bridge over DesPlaines Avenue was obviously designed for three tracks.

The question of what this third track was intended for recently came up in a discussion on the Facebook Chicago Elevated group. My source on that point, that the third track was intended for use by the Chicago Aurora & Elgin interurban, was my discussions and correspondence with George Krambles some 40 years ago).

But that did get me interested in looking into the matter further.

By 1940, planning for the new Congress expressway envisioned replacing the Garfield Park “L” with a line in the expressway median to Laramie Avenue (5200 W.), at least according to the film Streamlining Chicago.

This raises the question, when was the Lotus Tunnel planned, and why are there three tunnels?

The Congress median right-of-way was, to some extent, based on the existing Garfield setup. Garfield had four tracks as far as Paulina (1700 W.), although there had been plans to add two more tracks west of there in the late 1920s.

The three branches of the Met came together at Marshfield Junction, and this was undoubtedly seen as an undesirable situation, one that should be avoided in the future. By routing abandoning the Humboldt Park branch, and re-routing Logan Square into the new Milwaukee-Dearborn subway, this problem was solved.

But another goal of city planners was the gradual elimination of all the “L”s and their replacement by subways. The Lake Street “L” was targeted for this process, first with a plan to connect it to the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway just west of the Loop, and later by diverting it to the Congress median via a mile-long subway or elevated connection, either at Kedzie (3200 W.) or later, at 4600 W.

The Lake Street tracks were to be kept separate from other Congress line trains, therefore requiring a four-track right-of-way all the way to the subway portals just east of Halsted Street. The two unused portals were intended for a Clinton Street subway, a north-south branch that would have created a downtown subway loop in conjunction with the portions on Lake, Dearborn, and Congress.

Lake Street trains could have circled this loop, since otherwise, there was no obvious way to through-route them with another line at that time. It was thought that this change would have made it possible to tear down half of the Loop “L”, namely the Lake Street and Wabash Avenue legs, the exact opposite of what the City hoped to do in the 1970s.

So, the Congress median line, in the planning stages, had space enough for four tracks from Halsted to wherever the Lake line could have been brought in, which could have been as far as 4600 W.

This still does not explain why planners thought there should be three tracks starting at the Lotus Tunnel (5400 W.) and heading west.

As far back as 1945, it was expected that the CA&E tracks running through Forest Park, and the B&OCT, would run in an open cut in the expressway through suburban Oak Park. There are Cook County plans with such illustrations.

CRT leased CA&E’s tracks west of Laramie, and CA&E leased CRT’s tracks east of there, an arrangement that largely resulted in a wash financially for both companies (and, later, CRT’s successor, the CTA).

In the stretch between Forest Park and Laramie, the CA&E operated what amounted to an express service, and CRT, locals. There was a passing track at Gunderson, where express trains could pass slower locals.

That was the “old” way of operating a railroad, one increasingly at odds with the more modern way of doing things. It was labor-intensive and required a high level of competence; split-second timing, in fact.

IMHO, the solution to this in the new plan was simply to keep the locals and expresses separated. There would be two tracks for the CRT locals and one for the CA&E expresses.

As the highway plans neared fruition, the CA&E reported in 1950 that they lacked the funds to build new tracks in a highway right-of-way west of Austin Boulevard. CA&E owned the current trackage west of Laramie Avenue. The City of Chicago only had responsibility to build the Congress expressway as far as the city limits (Austin, 6000 W.).

The Lotus Tunnel was needed all along, because there needed to be some way to connect the CA&E tracks with CRT’s, and it made sense to have the new track alignment run on the south side of the highway footprint, parallel to the B&OCT. It must have been planned early on, perhaps as far back as 1945.

The CTA proposed taking over the right-of-way to Forest Park in 1952, as a way to solve the problems with CA&E. By then, the interurban had already decided not to run downtown on CTA’s tracks. The CTA had abandoned the Westchester branch in December 1951, as a means of saving money. So, CA&E no longer had income to offset the cost of using CTA’s tracks. Continuing operations into the City would be a drain of CA&E’s coffers, whatever the merits pro and con would have been for running on the Van Buren Street temporary trackage.

The highway planners, in the early 1950s, understood that if CA&E had been unable to connect with the CTA somewhere, this would have immediately put them out of business. Hence the county was very much interested in a solution to this problem. CA&E said they could not afford to build new tracks and facilities in the two miles or so of the relocated right-of-way between Austin Boulevard and DesPlaines Avenue.

All the more reason not to change the plans, likely made circa 1945, for three tracks in the new section. Cook County government did not want to be the cause of CA&E’s demise.

It was fortunate that the CTA stepped in and offered a creative solution to this problem, which also allowed them, as a result, to continue operating service to Forest Park.

So, in 1953 CA&E sold their right-of-way to the county as far west as DesPlaines Avenue (but not the river crossing, not until 1957), and the CTA purchased their fixed assets, the tracks, signals, stations, etc., which would all need to be replaced anyway.

This gave the CTA “skin in the game” to continue operating service to Forest Park. The plan to hand off CA&E riders to the CTA at DesPlaines Avenue did not come about until 1953. This is evidenced both in contemporary newspaper reports, and in how the Forest Park Terminal was hurriedly altered at practically the last minute to adopt the new arrangements.

Until then, it was expected that this handoff would take place at Laramie Avenue, where CA&E’s tracks ended and CTA’s began. There was also an intermediate plan to make Central Avenue the changeover point instead, as the CTA briefly considered building a bus-rail facility there instead of Forest Park. CTA made an artist’s rendering of this, which I have seen.

So, in sum, the plan for three tracks west of Laramie probably dated as far back as 1945, when engineering was being done for the expressway extension into the western suburbs. This plan was not changed when the facilities were built. The Lotus Tunnel has three tunnels, the right-of-way has space for three tracks (north of the existing two), and the steel bridge over the DesPlaines Avenue underpass was designed for three tracks.

By the time the final design work was done for the stations in this section, in the late 1950s, the CA&E was no longer an issue. The CTA had built what they needed built, and did the minimum that was necessary just in case it might have been possible for the CA&E to resume operations downtown.

And this is something that CA&E went back and forth on. Both CTA and CA&E seemed perfectly happy to separate their tracks from each other in 1953. It is my belief that, early on, the CA&E decided on a policy of a gradual or piecemeal abandonment, selling off parts of their line, and distributing the proceeds to their shareholders, instead of using it to buy new equipment.

This is based on the notion that the new highway itself had doomed the interurban, which in an era where there were no government subsidies, was likely the only logical conclusion.

The CTA still had to figure out where their yard would be for the new Congress service. In the late 1950s, they were still considering using Laramie Yard, which would need to be connected to the median line by an elevated connection, estimated to cost $1m.

Building a new yard at DesPlaines Avenue was a cost-saving alternative. But there was still the question of who owned the terminal there, as CA&E hadn’t sold it as part of the 1953 deal. It wasn’t part of the highway project, and in fact, in 1957, CA&E had filed suit to evict the CTA from the Forest Park terminal, as a way of putting pressure on the powers-that-be to get more money for the river crossing (which they did) and get the courts to agree to a “temporary” abandonment of passenger service (which they did).

That those two events happened almost simultaneously makes one wonder if perhaps there was a “quid pro quo” involved, although at this stage, there is probably no way to prove it.

Andre replies:

I will go along with your analysis. The whole problem was a lack of money. CTA in 1945 was set up on the premise of taking over all local transportation in the metro area, but there was a fatal flaw in that CTA had no outside income except by selling bonds. When the suburban bus and rail lines were found to be more highly valued than expected, CTA could not come up with enough money to buy them out. There were ideas to take over CA&E to Wheaton and North Shore to Waukegan, but nothing came of them because the various towns along the lines could not agree on financial assistance. Those directly on line demanded those further, especially along CA&E, kick in as they would also benefit, but places like Addison and Bloomingdale refused, so nothing could be agreed to and the idea died. It took until RTA in 1982 to finally do this, with federal money.

In many ways, CTA was an idea way ahead of its time. Remember CTA was the very first “transit authority”. Before you had municipal operations like Cleveland where city took over failing private operations, but this was the first “independent governmental body” with jurisdiction not based on municipal boundaries. Too bad nobody thought to give it taxing authority at the time, as everyone thought once relieved of regulation and duplication, transit would be profitable again, and in fact the idea was that CTA would only be a “temporary” owner, who after restructuring Chicago area transit into profitability would then sell the system to a private operator and use the proceeds to retire the bonds sold to buy and modernize the system. But because nothing could be done with the suburban operators, CTA became the permanent owner of the city system, for 74 years now.

There was the negative example of municipal ownership in New York City, where building the IND subway practically bankrupted the city. So it is no wonder that Chicago had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into it.

The City of Chicago resisted the idea of public ownership for years, until all the various schemes for unifying CSL and CRT had failed, and there was no other viable option (by 1943). The situation might have festered, but the city had pledged to push through transit unification as a condition of accepting federal funds to pay for 45% of the Initial System of Subways (which ended up being more like 33% by the time the Milwaukee-Dearborn subway opened).

When WWII ended, the City resumed work on the unfinished Dearborn-Milwaukee subway, and soon work began in earnest on building the Congress superhighway. But there was no more federal money in the offing, and it was a struggle just to get the subway open by 1951.

The City had to float a $25m bond issue, which in essence reimbursed the transit improvement fund for monies that were taken from it during the Great Depression.

The scope of projects had to be scaled back. It seems as though the idea of re-routing Lake onto Congress was still alive as of 1948, but got put off into an indefinite future, due to the cost of building a mile long connection between the two lines, plus the Clinton subway.

Once CTA was in charge, they quickly identified the Lake Street “L”s problem area as the grade-level outer end, and not the elevated portion. And service was speeded up by using A/B skip-stop service, which became a model for the rest of the system.

The ultimate solution to Lake’s problems was not realized until 1962, when the line was elevated onto the Chicago & North Western embankment, followed by a proper yard west of Harlem.

The Van Buren temporary trackage gummed things up on Garfield for a few years, but inadvertently helped turn the eventual Congress line into something more like an express service. The CTA responded to the slow running times on Van Buren by closing some of the more minor stations on the line west of there, to the point where Garfield travel times in 1958 were largely the same as they had been prior to the September 1953 change.

This, in turn, influenced the locations of stations on the new Congress line. Whereas at first, plans called for merely replacing the old Garfield stations with new ones on Congress, over time, fewer new stations were planned.

The one glaring exception, of course, was Kostner, which was mandated by the City Council for political reasons, as there were three Aldermen lobbying for it (their wards were nearby). This one example of the “old” way of doing things turned out to be a dismal failure, and the station barely lasted a decade.

Andre:

Actually since 1913 CSL was a strange situation of private ownership but municipal operation. Chicago Surface Lines Joint Board of Management and Operation (the full name) was a city agency that directed day to day operations while CRys, CCRy, C&SCRys, all stock companies, were the actual owners. Probably only such arrangement anywhere. So in fact in 1945 city ceded control to an independent agency, though ownership transfer of assets took two more years to arrange.

CSL was not in trouble per se. Bankruptcy was more to keep franchise from expiring than any real financial collapse, whereas CRT was basically barely able to make payroll, with nothing left over for maintenance, etc. If CRT could not be foisted off on CSL, it would have been abandoned soon.

The Dean of Chicago Railfans

Raymond DeGroote, Jr. waits for DC Transit pre-PCC streetcar 1053 to descend a viaduct in Washington, DC on October 15, 1961, so he can get his picture. Streetcars in portions of the District of Columbia were forbidden to use overhead wire, and were powered by an underground conduit instead. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

Raymond DeGroote, Jr. waits for DC Transit pre-PCC streetcar 1053 to descend a viaduct in Washington, DC on October 15, 1961, so he can get his picture. Streetcars in portions of the District of Columbia were forbidden to use overhead wire, and were powered by an underground conduit instead. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

My friend Raymond DeGroote, Jr. will turn 91 years old on July 15th. He has been very active in Chicago’s railfan community since the 1940s. He was most likely a first-day rider when Chicago’s first subway opened on October 17, 1943, over 77 years ago.

He has taken thousands of photos over the years, starting in about 1948 with black-and-white, and color slides since 1954. Ray is a world traveler, has written numerous articles, and has given numerous presentations on a wide range of railfan subjects. His work has appeared in many books, and he has been a mentor to me in this field since we first met in the late 1970s.  He has worked tirelessly for many of the leading railfan organizations over the years.

Thanks to Ray, I became part of what he likes to call the “intelligence network” of railfans, in an era before the Internet made it possible to have a world of information at your fingertips.

Therefore, when I started work on my new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s, I could not think of anyone more deserving to dedicate the book to than Ray, who I consider the Dean of Chicago railfans. Once I received a small number of “author’s copies,” I sent one to him.

Here is his reply:

Thank you very much for my copy of Chicago’s Lost “L”s. The book is much appreciated and will provide many hours of pleasure reading and looking at the pictures.

I already found several very interesting ones. For example, I had never seen a picture of Willow or Calvary, the latter going even before my time, and the former just as I was becoming interested in the hobby. Also the view of Lower Level Wilson looking southeast (interesting angle) before the structure was above it, and Merchandise Mart under construction. Both must be relatively rare pictures.

On page 17 you had a view of a Robertson streetcar at 63rd. I remember those cars on South Side lines such as Riverdale, but we also had them up north on Riverview-Larrabee– slow cars, but with a commanding presence.

I am glad you included the Lost Interurbans section and also the Lost Terminals section. I vaguely remember Market Street, but know I rode out of Congress Street a few times, and many times out of North Water. That was even used as a display area to introduce and show off the new North Shore Silverliner paint scheme.

This is another good book to your credit. Keep up the good work.

Apparently, he did not initially notice that the book is dedicated to him, so I had to bring that to his attention.

He then wrote:

I am terribly embarrassed that I did not notice my name on the dedication page. I remember looking at the top of the page and seeing the Library of Congress data, and then going right to the Table of Contents. When I saw Northwestern “L” I turned right there to see what pictures you had included.

This is the first time anyone has dedicated a book to me, and I am very surprised and honored. It was totally unexpected. Thank you very much for this recognition, although I do not think I merit the title of “Dean”. “Old Man” might have been more appropriate as there are many others who deserve to be called “Dean.”

So, thank you again for the book dedication. It is a fine book, and I hope it will generate many sales.

Sincerely, Ray

When I can slip a few pictures in there that Ray DeGroote hasn’t seen before, I think I have done pretty well, because Ray has seen just about everything before.  And, he is characteristically modest about his accomplishments.  I can only hope for a small fraction of his wisdom, if I am lucky enough to reach his years.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

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
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2021
ISBN 1467100007, 9781467100007
Length 128 pages

Chapters:
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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NEW DVD:

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)

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

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CTA’s 6000s Run Again

The historic train approaches Adams and Wabash.

The historic train approaches Adams and Wabash.

October 1st was the 72nd anniversary of when the Chicago Transit Authority took over operating the elevated and most of the surface transit lines. To celebrate this milestone, the CTA held a Customer Appreciation Day event in the Loop, using newly repatriated historic “L” cars 6711 and 6712. Built in 1959, this pair had been at the National Museum of Transportation in St. Louis since the 1990s.

This type of “L” car was once synonymous with the CTA, as these are part of a series of all-new rapid transit cars introduced in the 1950s. There were a total of 770 such cars built in various configurations and delivered between 1950 and 1959. They replaced wooden “L” cars, many of which were half a century old upon retirement.

Being metal-bodied, the 6000-series cars were designed to operate in Chicago’s new subways as well as its famous elevated lines. The first batch of such cars finally made it possible to open the Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway in 1951. The State Street Subway had opened in 1943, prior to the creation of the Chicago Transit Authority, using existing steel cars built in the early 1920s.

While October 1, 1947 is the date when the CTA finally took charge of local transit, its origins naturally go back further than that. The City of Chicago was always intimately involved in local transit matters, even in the era of private ownership which came crashing down into bankruptcy during the Great Depression.

Then-Mayor Edward J. Kelly spearheaded efforts to build Chicago’s first subways, and his “go-to guy” in this regard was Philip Harrington (1886-1949). In the late 1930s, he became head of the City’s Department of Subways and Superhighways, and was also the principal author of a comprehensive transportation plan known locally as the “Green Book”. (One thing that is not certain, is whether there is any connection between the green binding of this book, and the later adoption of green as the more-or-less official CTA color in early days.)

When the Chicago Transit Authority officially came into being on June 28, 1945, Harrington was unanimously chosen as its first Chairman. What followed was a two-year transition period, where the CTA became a functioning entity and prepared for the official takeover which eventually came, after, under the management of the courts, the existing private owners of the Chicago Rapid Transit and Chicago Surface Lines companies were bought out.  (CTA purchased the assets of the Chicago Motor Coach Company five years later, completing the process of transit unification.)

During this time, while CRT and CSL were still in charge, the CTA, operating in an unofficial capacity, was really calling the shots, deciding what new equipment would be ordered, and where it would run once delivered.

Given that Philip Harrington died 70 years ago, it is remarkable that his son Michael is still with us (I believe he is about 84 years old), and took part in the first trip on these historic cars. I spoke briefly with him, and promised to send him copies of my two Arcadia books, which deal with the turbulent times when his father played such an important role. As a child, Michael Harrington was a witness to events such as the opening of Chicago’s first subway in 1943.

You can read an appreciation of Philip Harrington here.

WBEZ, Chicago’s public radio station, was on the scene talking to people who came out to ride this special train. I was interviewed by a reporter for a few minutes and answered various questions.

I was asked what was so special about the 6000-series cars. They were state of the art when new, and had advanced technology for their time, including improved acceleration and braking, and were quieter than what they replaced, even though the old stuff made “all the right noises.”  (The older 4000-series cars have a very distinctive sound, which many people find pleasant and comes from the gearing.)

They had comfortable seats, especially compared to some of today’s equipment, but one thing they did not have was air conditioning. You had to open the windows, and if the weather was right, a nice refreshing breeze wafted through. A trip through the subway, however, was very LOUD with the windows open, an experience that thankfully modern riders don’t get to have.

As light-weight cars, though, the 6000s did “shake, rattle, and roll” and their riding qualities led some fans to dub them “Spam Cans.” But for various reasons, the final cars in this series, of which 6711-6712 are examples, were a bit heavier than the first ones, and hence rode better also.

Andy Warhol famously said that “In the future, everybody will be famous for 15 minutes.” But while I did end up on the radio yesterday, I’m not even sure I got 15 seconds out of the segment on these rides, which totaled less than a minute. You can hear it here.

I applaud the CTA for expanding their collection of historic railcars by bringing some of them back from museums. New York City has several entire trains of older cars it can run, and events such as these are very popular and create tremendous goodwill.  It’s important that organizations have a sense of the history that has made them great.

The 6000s were always my favorite “L” cars, and riding them once again brought back many memories. Some people were probably riding them for the first time, based on the looks of various people on our train. I hope you will enjoy our short photo essay, followed by a few of our recent photo finds.

-David Sadowski

PS- We regret to report the recent passing of Father Philip F. Cioffi at age 63. Father Phil, as we all knew him, was widely known as one of the “nice guys” in the railfan field, and had served on the boards of various organizations over the years. He will be missed. You can read his obituary here.

From 11 am to 12:30 pm, tickets were required, along with payment of a regular CTA fare. People were able to register online. We were in group one. From 12:30 until 2, anyone could ride the historic cars.

From 11 am to 12:30 pm, tickets were required, along with payment of a regular CTA fare. People were able to register online. We were in group one. From 12:30 until 2, anyone could ride the historic cars.

The ticketed trips began and ended at Washington and Wabash, CTA's newest Loop station, which replaced two others.

The ticketed trips began and ended at Washington and Wabash, CTA’s newest Loop station, which replaced two others.

There were separate areas for both boarding and leaving the historic train.

There were separate areas for both boarding and leaving the historic train.

Meanwhile, regular service continued on the Loop.

Meanwhile, regular service continued on the Loop.

Michael Harrington, son of the late Philip Harrington (1886-1949), first Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority from 1945-49, talks to a WBEZ reporter.

Michael Harrington, son of the late Philip Harrington (1886-1949), first Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority from 1945-49, talks to a WBEZ reporter.

Cameras are out as our train arrives.

Cameras are out as our train arrives.

The view out the back window.

The view out the back window.

The operator's cab, with the controller, which handles both acceleration and braking.

The operator’s cab, with the controller, which handles both acceleration and braking.

I am not sure what the purpose is of this structure, which the CTA has built on part of the platform of a former station at Randolph and Wells.

I am not sure what the purpose is of this structure, which the CTA has built on part of the platform of a former station at Randolph and Wells.

We are looking west along Lake Street at Wells. The structure at right is called Tower 18, which controls this busy intersection, once the busiest of its type in the world. This is the third such tower building at this location.

We are looking west along Lake Street at Wells. The structure at right is called Tower 18, which controls this busy intersection, once the busiest of its type in the world. This is the third such tower building at this location.

Graham Garfield is CTA's General Manager, RPM (Red and Purple Lines Modernization Project) Operations & Communication Coordination. He also serves as the CTA's historian, and was a conductor on this trip. Nowadays, CTA trains are run by only one person, but this trip was handled the old fashioned way, and Graham was outfitted as usual in a period-correct uniform.

Graham Garfield is CTA’s General Manager, RPM (Red and Purple Lines Modernization Project) Operations & Communication Coordination. He also serves as the CTA’s historian, and was a conductor on this trip. Nowadays, CTA trains are run by only one person, but this trip was handled the old fashioned way, and Graham was outfitted as usual in a period-correct uniform.

Having dropped off the riders from trip one, 6711-6712 head down to the end of the platform at Washington and Wabash to pick people up for the second go-round.

Having dropped off the riders from trip one, 6711-6712 head down to the end of the platform at Washington and Wabash to pick people up for the second go-round.

Adams and Wabash.

Adams and Wabash.

Recent Finds

Here is an example of some early "flat door" 6000s running in the 1950s, on the outer portions of the old Garfield Park "L". I am not sure whether this picture was taken in Forest Park, just east of DesPlaines Avenue (near where the "L" crossed the B&OCT), or along the south edge of Columbus Park a few miles further east.

Here is an example of some early “flat door” 6000s running in the 1950s, on the outer portions of the old Garfield Park “L”. I am not sure whether this picture was taken in Forest Park, just east of DesPlaines Avenue (near where the “L” crossed the B&OCT), or along the south edge of Columbus Park a few miles further east.

This picture, taken on June 16, 1947, shows a Birney car owned by the North Shore Line at the Harrison Street shops in Milwaukee. The tiny streetcar was built by Cincinnati Car Company in 1922, and was used in city streetcar service on the 5th-6th Streets line by the interurban.

This picture, taken on June 16, 1947, shows a Birney car owned by the North Shore Line at the Harrison Street shops in Milwaukee. The tiny streetcar was built by Cincinnati Car Company in 1922, and was used in city streetcar service on the 5th-6th Streets line by the interurban.

Here is Chicago, Aurora & Elgin car 406 on a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip on August 8, 1954. Photographer Bob Selle notes, "View from abandoned power house-- second story. At Glenwood Park station. Photo stop between Batavia and the Junction." (In other words, on the Batavia branch.)

Here is Chicago, Aurora & Elgin car 406 on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip on August 8, 1954. Photographer Bob Selle notes, “View from abandoned power house– second story. At Glenwood Park station. Photo stop between Batavia and the Junction.” (In other words, on the Batavia branch.)

It's August 8, 1954, again on a CERA fantrip, and CA&E car 406 is making a photo stop on the line between Wheaton and Aurora in this Bob Selle view. The way people are walking about along the tracks, with unprotected electric third rail, would never be allowed today for safety and liability reasons.

It’s August 8, 1954, again on a CERA fantrip, and CA&E car 406 is making a photo stop on the line between Wheaton and Aurora in this Bob Selle view. The way people are walking about along the tracks, with unprotected electric third rail, would never be allowed today for safety and liability reasons.

After passenger service on the CA&E ended abruptly on July 3, 1957, there were still a few fantrips held. Here is one such train on October 26, 1958. We see cars 430, 403(?), and 453 east of First Avenue near Maywood. The conductor in this Bob Selle photo is climbing aboard at a switch. Presumably, this is as far east as CA&E trains could go at the time, since what is now I-290 was under construction where the interurban once crossed the DesPlaines River. The CA&E's bridge was dutifully moved to the north a bit, and new tracks leading to the DesPlaines terminal built by 1959, with no trains ever to run on them.

After passenger service on the CA&E ended abruptly on July 3, 1957, there were still a few fantrips held. Here is one such train on October 26, 1958. We see cars 430, 403(?), and 453 east of First Avenue near Maywood. The conductor in this Bob Selle photo is climbing aboard at a switch. Presumably, this is as far east as CA&E trains could go at the time, since what is now I-290 was under construction where the interurban once crossed the DesPlaines River. The CA&E’s bridge was dutifully moved to the north a bit, and new tracks leading to the DesPlaines terminal built by 1959, with no trains ever to run on them.

Lake and Pine

As the years go by, there are fewer and fewer places where you can see Chicago streetcar tracks. One such place is the viaduct at Lake and Pine. This is where Route 16 streetcars of the Chicago Surface Line (and later, Chicago Transit Authority) crossed over from one side of the Chicago & North Western viaduct to the other. There were many pictures taken at this location, where Lake Street “L” trains also ran on the ground. Streetcar service here ended in May 1954, and the “L” was relocated onto the embankment in October 1962.

We have published numerous pictures taken at this location, and a few years ago, we even went back and shot some pictures of rail. You can see those here.

Recently, the tracks were removed from the eastern half of the viaduct. Here’s how things looked as of September 25th.

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)

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 240th 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 553,000 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.

DONATIONS

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.

Giving Thanks

This photo is interesting, as it shows a 6-car train of old wooden "L" cars on the CTA's temporary Garfield Park "L" trackage in Van Buren Street, possibly before service was transferred there in September 1953.

This photo is interesting, as it shows a 6-car train of old wooden “L” cars on the CTA’s temporary Garfield Park “L” trackage in Van Buren Street, possibly before service was transferred there in September 1953.

This year, in this holiday season, we give thanks for many things… among them, our health, our friends, and our family. And on behalf of this blog, I am thankful for you, our readers, for it is due to your generous support that we can continue to share these fine, old photos with you here.

Today, we have a 1959 CTA commemorative booklet, shared by Miles Beitler, plus some interesting recent finds of our own. Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

We were recently asked by WGN radio here in Chicago to discuss our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.

Meet the Author

FYI, I will be at Centuries and Sleuths bookstore in suburban Forest Park, Illinois from 3 to 5 pm on Saturday, November 24th, to discuss and sign copies of my new book Building Chicago’s Subways. We hope to see you there.

Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore
7419 Madison St.
Forest Park, IL 60130
(708)771-7243

1959 CTA Commemorative Brochure

Miles Beitler writes:

In 1959, a commemorative booklet was issued by the CTA as the new Congress line (referred to at the times as the “West Side Subway”) was being completed. I have had the booklet since that time.

The entire booklet is 23 pages (page 2 was omitted as it is blank), and although it features the West-Northwest route, it also covers the other CTA rail lines in operation at that time, along with bus lines, streetcar service which had just ended, Chicago transit history, and future plans for Chicago area transit. There are numerous photos as well.

Thanks!


Recent Finds

CSL 4081 and 7074 are heading northbound on Clark Street near Wacker Drive on June 13, 1947.

CSL 4081 and 7074 are heading northbound on Clark Street near Wacker Drive on June 13, 1947.

CSL 5814 is southbound on Wabash at Roosevelt Road on June 13, 1947. In the background, you can see how Roosevelt Road streetcars crossed over the Illinois Central tracks (and around Central Station) to reach the Field Museum and Soldier Field. This extension was built for the 1933-34 A Century of Progress world's fair.

CSL 5814 is southbound on Wabash at Roosevelt Road on June 13, 1947. In the background, you can see how Roosevelt Road streetcars crossed over the Illinois Central tracks (and around Central Station) to reach the Field Museum and Soldier Field. This extension was built for the 1933-34 A Century of Progress world’s fair.

CSL 5960 is westbound on Grand Avenue at Wabash on August 21, 1947.

CSL 5960 is westbound on Grand Avenue at Wabash on August 21, 1947.

CSL 5395 is westbound on 6rd Street at the Illinois Central underpass, east of Dorchester, on June 13, 1947. The "L" has since been cut back to a point west of here at Cottage Grove. Its eventual destination will be Oak Park Avenue.

CSL 5395 is westbound on 6rd Street at the Illinois Central underpass, east of Dorchester, on June 13, 1947. The “L” has since been cut back to a point west of here at Cottage Grove. Its eventual destination will be Oak Park Avenue.

Philadelphia Transportation Company Birney car #1, signed for a fantrip sponsored by the Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

Philadelphia Transportation Company Birney car #1, signed for a fantrip sponsored by the Philadelphia chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow Lines) "Master Unit" car 83 is at the end of the line in West Chester, PA. Service on this interurban was replaced by bus in 1954, to facilitate the widening of West Chester Pike.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (aka Red Arrow Lines) “Master Unit” car 83 is at the end of the line in West Chester, PA. Service on this interurban was replaced by bus in 1954, to facilitate the widening of West Chester Pike.

Red Arrow cars 82 and 80 are on the West Chester line, at a passing siding. This interurban was mostly single track, operating alongside West Chester Pike.

Red Arrow cars 82 and 80 are on the West Chester line, at a passing siding. This interurban was mostly single track, operating alongside West Chester Pike.

Red Arrow car 78, built by Brill in 1932, is at Newtown Siding in Newtown Square, PA on May 30, 1949 (on the West Chester route).

Red Arrow car 78, built by Brill in 1932, is at Newtown Siding in Newtown Square, PA on May 30, 1949 (on the West Chester route).

Red Arrow car 22, a double-ended 1949 product of St. Louis Car Company, is presumably at the west end of the Media interurban line. These cars, which closely resemble PCCs, are not classified as such as they used standard interurban undergear.

Red Arrow car 22, a double-ended 1949 product of St. Louis Car Company, is presumably at the west end of the Media interurban line. These cars, which closely resemble PCCs, are not classified as such as they used standard interurban undergear.

CTA gate cars and Met cars are on display at Laramie Yard in this August 1948 view (on the Garfield Park "L").

CTA gate cars and Met cars are on display at Laramie Yard in this August 1948 view (on the Garfield Park “L”).

North Shore Line 715 is on the Mundelein branch in July 1950.

North Shore Line 715 is on the Mundelein branch in July 1950.

On August 17, 1966, Pittsburgh Railways PCC 1542 is on Route 71 - Highland Park. (Richard S. Short Photo)

On August 17, 1966, Pittsburgh Railways PCC 1542 is on Route 71 – Highland Park. (Richard S. Short Photo)

Chicago Rapid Transit Company 2731 is at Laramie Yard (on the Garfield Park "L") in September 1936.

Chicago Rapid Transit Company 2731 is at Laramie Yard (on the Garfield Park “L”) in September 1936.

CRT 2881 is at Gunderson Avenue (in suburban Oak Park), one of the ground-level stations on the Garfield Park "L", on September 19, 1934. This location is now the site of I-290, the Eisenhower Expressway.

CRT 2881 is at Gunderson Avenue (in suburban Oak Park), one of the ground-level stations on the Garfield Park “L”, on September 19, 1934. This location is now the site of I-290, the Eisenhower Expressway.

CTA 3164 is at the Hamlin station on the Lake Street "L" in August 1948.

CTA 3164 is at the Hamlin station on the Lake Street “L” in August 1948.

CA&E 421 is at Wheaton Yard in September 1936.

CA&E 421 is at Wheaton Yard in September 1936.

Don's Rail Photos says CA&E express motor 5 "was built by Cincinnati Car in 1921 to replace 1st 5 which was built by American Car in 1909 and wrecked in 1920. It was retired in 1953." Here, we see it in Wheaton in August 1948.

Don’s Rail Photos says CA&E express motor 5 “was built by Cincinnati Car in 1921 to replace 1st 5 which was built by American Car in 1909 and wrecked in 1920. It was retired in 1953.” Here, we see it in Wheaton in August 1948.

CTA PCC 4390 is presumably northbound at 95th Street, heading towards Broadway and Devon on Route 36 in August 1955. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

CTA PCC 4390 is presumably northbound at 95th Street, heading towards Broadway and Devon on Route 36 in August 1955. (Roy W. Bruce Photo)

Building Chicago's Subways is dedicated to the late Charlie Petzold. His widow Beverly sent us this newspaper clipping, showing him with various family members in 1984, when the "L" was extended to O'Hare airport.

Building Chicago’s Subways is dedicated to the late Charlie Petzold. His widow Beverly sent us this newspaper clipping, showing him with various family members in 1984, when the “L” was extended to O’Hare airport.

An early 1900s view of Chicago's Union Stock Yards. The Stock Yards "L" branch can be seen at left. It closed in 1957.

An early 1900s view of Chicago’s Union Stock Yards. The Stock Yards “L” branch can be seen at left. It closed in 1957.

CTA 6565 is eastbound on the Congress rapid transit line at Morgan on July 16, 1971.

CTA 6565 is eastbound on the Congress rapid transit line at Morgan on July 16, 1971.

A train of CTA 6000s waits for the signal to leave the terminal at Lawrence and Kimball on April 21, 1965. The Ravenswood "L" is now the Brown Line.

A train of CTA 6000s waits for the signal to leave the terminal at Lawrence and Kimball on April 21, 1965. The Ravenswood “L” is now the Brown Line.

CTA prewar PCC 4023 is northbound on Route 4 - Cottage Grove circa 1952-55, having just crossed under the Illinois Central tracks.

CTA prewar PCC 4023 is northbound on Route 4 – Cottage Grove circa 1952-55, having just crossed under the Illinois Central tracks.

CTA 4054 is on private right-of-way on the south end of the Cottage Grove line, running parallel to the Illinois Central Electric suburban service.

CTA 4054 is on private right-of-way on the south end of the Cottage Grove line, running parallel to the Illinois Central Electric suburban service.

The date on this slide mount is March 1964. If so, this two-car train on the CTA Skokie Swift must be a test train, prior to the beginning of regular service in April.

The date on this slide mount is March 1964. If so, this two-car train on the CTA Skokie Swift must be a test train, prior to the beginning of regular service in April.

CTA "Peter Witt" car 6287 is on the Cottage Grove private right-of-way on June 10, 1951.

CTA “Peter Witt” car 6287 is on the Cottage Grove private right-of-way on June 10, 1951.

North Shore Line freight motor 456 is running on battery power on a siding, as there are no overhead wires present.

North Shore Line freight motor 456 is running on battery power on a siding, as there are no overhead wires present.

On June 27, 1964, a two-car train of CTA 4000s is inbound running local service at Isabella. This station closed in the early 1970s and was quickly removed.

On June 27, 1964, a two-car train of CTA 4000s is inbound running local service at Isabella. This station closed in the early 1970s and was quickly removed.

CTA red Pullman 238 is on Kedzie Avenue on a snowy January 17, 1951.

CTA red Pullman 238 is on Kedzie Avenue on a snowy January 17, 1951.

CTA PCC 4405 is southbound on Western Avenue on August 5, 1949.

CTA PCC 4405 is southbound on Western Avenue on August 5, 1949.

CTA 6205, a one-man car, is on 87th Street in April 1951.

CTA 6205, a one-man car, is on 87th Street in April 1951.

CTA 6203, another one-man car, is on the 93rd Street line in March 1951.

CTA 6203, another one-man car, is on the 93rd Street line in March 1951.

Since CTA 4406 is on a charter, this is most likely the fantrip that took place on October 21, 1956.

Since CTA 4406 is on a charter, this is most likely the fantrip that took place on October 21, 1956.

MBTA (Boston) double-end PCC 3335 (ex-Dallas) is at Milton on the Ashmont-Mattapan line in the 1960s (Photo by Frederick F. Marder)

MBTA (Boston) double-end PCC 3335 (ex-Dallas) is at Milton on the Ashmont-Mattapan line in the 1960s (Photo by Frederick F. Marder)

This photo is interesting, as it shows a 6-car train of old wooden "L" cars on the CTA's temporary Garfield Park "L" trackage in Van Buren Street, possibly before service was transferred there in September 1953.

This photo is interesting, as it shows a 6-car train of old wooden “L” cars on the CTA’s temporary Garfield Park “L” trackage in Van Buren Street, possibly before service was transferred there in September 1953.

Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There are three subway anniversaries this year 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)

Help Support The Trolley Dodger

gh1

This is our 223rd 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 464,000 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.

DONATIONS

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.

A Long Time Gone

Chicago postwar PCC 7216 is shown heading south on Clark at Harrison on March 11, 1958. I was attracted to this shot since the woman and child who are about to board could just as well be me and my mother at that time. (Photo by A. Goddard)

Chicago postwar PCC 7216 is shown heading south on Clark at Harrison on March 11, 1958. I was attracted to this shot since the woman and child who are about to board could just as well be me and my mother at that time. (Photo by A. Goddard)

June 21st marks 60 years since the last Chicago streetcar ran. If you consider that 80 years is, perhaps, about an average lifespan, that means 3/4ths of such a time has now passed since that historic event.

The number of people still living who rode Chicago streetcars is dwindling, and is certainly only a small fraction of the current population. At age 63, I must be among the youngest people who can say they rode a Chicago streetcar on the streets of Chicago, much less remember it.

But the number of people who have taken a ride on a Chicago streetcar does increase, since there are a number of them that are operable at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. The Seashore Trolley Museum (Kennebunkport, ME) has another car (225) that is operated infrequently.

The experience of riding at a railway museum is, of necessity, somewhat different than what people experienced 60+ years ago on the streets of Chicago. However, as a “streetcar renaissance” is underway across the country in various cities, the number of track miles in city streets has been increasing. In those places, it is possible to experience something more like what Chicago once had.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin will soon join that list, just 90 miles north of Chicago. After a similar 60-year gap in streetcar service, their first new line, aka “The Hop,” is expected to begin service mid-November. (You can read our recent update here. Since our article appeared, the new cars have begun testing out on the streets.)

Interestingly, a heritage trolley recently began service in Rockford, Illinois, which is also about 90 miles from Chicago.

For the past 18 years, Kenosha, Wisconsin (about 65 miles from Chicago) has operated a tourist trolley, which you can even reach using Metra‘s Union Pacific North Line.

Perhaps the streetcar line that would offer a ride closest to what Chicagoans could once experience, however, is the SEPTA #15 Girard Avenue line in Philadelphia, which is operated with modernized PCC cars.

I can also recommend the Muni F-Market and Wharves line in San Francisco, which operates using a variety of historic equipment.

Anyway you look at it, this anniversary is a good excuse to feature some classic Chicago traction photos, which we hope you will enjoy.

But wait– there’s more!

June 22, 1958 is another important date in Chicago transit history. 60 years ago, a new CTA rapid transit line opened in the median of the Congress (now Eisenhower) expressway. This line, also known as the “West Side Subway,” replaced the Garfield Park “L” and was the culmination of plans made 20 years before.

Another important anniversary is approaching on October 17th– the 75th anniversary of the opening of Chicago’s first subway. In December, it will be 80 years since subway construction began.

For these reasons, and more, we have written a new book called Building Chicago’s Subways, to be released by Arcadia Publishing this October 1st. Information about how to pre-order this book appears further down in this post.

The idea for Building Chicago’s Subways first came to me a few years ago, when I realized these important anniversaries were approaching. A few months after the publication of Chicago Trolleys last fall, I pitched the idea to Arcadia, and that is when the real work began.

Much additional research had to be done. I read everything I could find on the subject. Photos came from my own collections and those of other collectors, who have graciously permitted their use in this project.

Here is a short description of the book:

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!

The story goes back much further than that… before there were rapid transit tunnels, there were tunnels under the Chicago River, used by cable cars and streetcars. In the early 1900s, private enterprise built an extensive system of freight tunnels under the downtown area. And there was about 40 years of wrangling over what kind of subway to build, where to build it, and who should pay for it.

I found it a fascinating tale, and am gratified that I have been able to complete this new book in time for the anniversary, and within the living memory of Chicagoans who were here to witness these events 75 long years ago. The State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee and West Side Subways have changed life for everyday Chicagoans forever.

-David Sadowski

PS- The Chicago Transit Authority posted this excellent video showing the last run of car 7213 in the early morning hours of June 21, 1958 (the June 22 date in the video is not correct):

Jeffrey L. Wien and I, along with the late Bradley Criss, collaborated on the book Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958, published in 2015 as Bulletin 146 of the Central Electric Railfans’ Association.

For this anniversary, I asked Mr. Wien, who rode on the last Chicago streetcar, to reminisce for our readers:

Today, June 21, 2018, marks the 60th anniversary of my ride on the Last Chicago Streetcar with my high school friend Greer Nielsen. Thinking back 60 years I recall that it was a very melancholy event, one that remained in my mind for the rest of my life.

Thinking back 60 years can be a challenging task, but I do remember that it was a warm and muggy night on that last ride. CTA PCC 7213 was the last car on the shortened route 22 Wentworth line. The last run south from Clark and Kinzie began around 4am. There were probably at least 100 people crammed into that car so that they could say that they rode the Last Chicago Streetcar. As the car headed south through the Loop headed to 81st and Halsted, the group was quite loud and raucous, but as we went farther and farther south, the crowd quieted down, perhaps because we wanted to hear the sound of the streetcar in the streets of Chicago for the very last time.

When we arrived at 81st and Halsted, everyone got off the car for photos, private and official, and then reboarded the car for the last time for the short trip to Vincennes and 78th where the car pulled off of the street. It was about 6:15am by that point in time, and the Sun was just rising.

As the 7213 pulled away from Vincennes Avenue heading into the Rising Sun, we knew that we had witnessed an historic event in the history of Chicago. 99 years of traction history in Chicago ended at that moment. For me, it was a very sad moment for it was like losing a very good friend.

Jeff Wien

Chicago Area Recent Finds

Chicago's PCCs did not operate in multiple units, but you would be forgiven for thinking so from this photo. Car 4172 and a very close follower are heading south at Clark and Division circa 1950. Note there are not yet any advertising brackets on the sides of the PCCs. At right, there is an entrance to a CTA subway station, which is today part of the Red Line.

Chicago’s PCCs did not operate in multiple units, but you would be forgiven for thinking so from this photo. Car 4172 and a very close follower are heading south at Clark and Division circa 1950. Note there are not yet any advertising brackets on the sides of the PCCs. At right, there is an entrance to a CTA subway station, which is today part of the Red Line.

CTA PCC 4366, a Pullman, heads north on diversion trackage on Halsted at Congress in 1950. This was necessitated by construction of the bridge that would go over the Congress expressway (now the Eisenhower, I290). Bridges that crossed the highway were the first things built, since traffic could be routed around them. Once a bridge was finished, the area around it could be dug out.

CTA PCC 4366, a Pullman, heads north on diversion trackage on Halsted at Congress in 1950. This was necessitated by construction of the bridge that would go over the Congress expressway (now the Eisenhower, I290). Bridges that crossed the highway were the first things built, since traffic could be routed around them. Once a bridge was finished, the area around it could be dug out.

CTA PCC 7148, running northbound on Route 36 - Broadway, turns from Broadway onto westbound Devon in 1955, with the Howard line "L" in the background. The date written on this slide mount was 8-14-56, but the turning car has a 1955 Illinois license plate on it, so perhaps the correct date is 8-14-55. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7148, running northbound on Route 36 – Broadway, turns from Broadway onto westbound Devon in 1955, with the Howard line “L” in the background. The date written on this slide mount is 8-14-56, but the turning car has a 1955 Illinois license plate on it, so perhaps the correct date is 8-14-55. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4124 is eastbound on Route 20 - Madison at Cicero Avenue in 1953. The PCC is signed for Kedzie, so it is most likely a tripper, heading back to the barn. Streetcar service on the main portion of Madison ended on December 13, 1953.

CTA Pullman-built PCC 4124 is eastbound on Route 20 – Madison at Cicero Avenue in 1953. The PCC is signed for Kedzie, so it is most likely a tripper, heading back to the barn. Streetcar service on the main portion of Madison ended on December 13, 1953.

The same building as in the previous picture.

The same building as in the previous picture.

Rust never sleeps, as the saying goes, and that is evident in this picture of a Chicago Surface Lines (now CTA, but still sporting a CSL logo) electric loco as it looked in the 1950s. Behind it is one of the CSL trailers that were used during the 1920s, pulled along behind other streetcars. Once ridership dropped during the Great Depression, these were used for storage at various CSL yards.

Rust never sleeps, as the saying goes, and that is evident in this picture of a Chicago Surface Lines (now CTA, but still sporting a CSL logo) electric loco as it looked in the 1950s. Behind it is one of the CSL trailers that were used during the 1920s, pulled along behind other streetcars. Once ridership dropped during the Great Depression, these were used for storage at various CSL yards.

In August 1960, a four-car train of CTA 4000-series cars heads west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L". Since it appears there are passengers waiting for a Chicago & North Western commuter train on the adjacent embankment, I would say it's possible the location is near Marion Street in suburban Oak Park. The outer 2.5 miles of the Lake route were relocated onto the embankment in October 1962.

In August 1960, a four-car train of CTA 4000-series cars heads west on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”. Since it appears there are passengers waiting for a Chicago & North Western commuter train on the adjacent embankment, I would say it’s possible the location is near Marion Street in suburban Oak Park. The outer 2.5 miles of the Lake route were relocated onto the embankment in October 1962.

CTA 4295 heads up a train in Oak Park on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L" on August 7, 1954. (Photo by Mark D. Meyer)

CTA 4295 heads up a train in Oak Park on the ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L” on August 7, 1954. (Photo by Mark D. Meyer)

Two CTA 4000s go up the ramp on Lake Street, just west of Laramie, to rejoin the steel "L" structure east of here on November 30, 1952. (Robert Selle Photo)

Two CTA 4000s go up the ramp on Lake Street, just west of Laramie, to rejoin the steel “L” structure east of here on November 30, 1952. (Robert Selle Photo)