October is often full of surprises, especially during an election year. Here are some surprisingly good traction photos for your enjoyment. Some, we were fortunate enough to purchase. We missed out on others, but they are still worth including. We also have some excellent Chicago streetcar pictures from the collections of William Shapotkin, plus some interesting correspondence from our readers. We thank all our contributors.
As always, if you have questions or comments about anything you see here, we are glad to hear from you. It helps to refer to individual photos by their file name, which you can find by hovering your mouse over the image.
PS- We have received more than 100,000 page views this year. This is the sixth straight year we have done this. We are very grateful for our readers. Thank you for stopping by.
Facebook Auxiliary Group
It seems we always have things left over after each new post. So, we thought it would be a good idea to create a Facebook auxiliary group for The Trolley Dodger. You can find it here. People can post pictures, links, have discussions, etc. etc., thanks.
More That Got Away
The Trolley Dodger competes with many other people to buy images for this site. Here are some that we noticed recently that slipped through our fingers. As they say, you can’t win ’em all.
From the Collections of William Shapotkin:
All the pictures in this section have been graciously shared by our good friend Bill Shapotkin.
This postcard of Pullman streetcar 513 generated some discussion with our friend Jeff Marinoff, and additional comments from some others.
Jeff Marinoff writes:
Here is the info I received from Walter Keevil on Chicago Railway Company car # 513:
It is car 513 at a very early date. The number is readable on the side of the car as well as the front, though the middle digit is washed out on the front. There were three digit car numbers from 101 to 999. 513 was a Large or Old Pullman delivered in 1908-09 to Chicago Railway Co. before CSL took over management. The cars were originally painted a ‘medium’ green with red sash and doors so the photo shows everything black. The numbers were gold which also appears very dark. The well known red and cream didn’t come until 1920. I don’t know when the car numbers on the sides were moved to the center instead of the ends. The car in the photo looks a bit beat up, not the way CSL kept its cars until WW II.
Andre Kristopans adds:
Noticed that too, rather shabby condition. Maybe during WW1? Suppose maintenance went down on account of war and Spanish Flu at the same time.
Sandy Terman adds:
Regarding photo 513. Appears the big Pullmans were manufactured w/o the eight roof ventilators (4 on each side of the top hat) and w/o boarding air doors which were installed on the 500 series in later years. Question is why were the vents not manufactured on the baby Pullmans that were very similar?
We recently received an interesting comment on our previous post The Green Hornet Streetcar Disaster (May 19, 2015). It was directed at Craig Allen Cleve, who authored a book by that title, so we forwarded it to him and he in turn replied.
Bren Sheriff writes:
The NAACP has owned 11 contiguous lots on the east side of State Street between 62nd and 63rd for over 30 years; the lot addresses are 6209-6251 S State. I bet there is a story behind how the donor acquired the lots and why they made the decision to donate them to the NAACP. Unfortunately, no one in the unit knows. In your research did you come across any land ownership info. The public records online only go back to 1988. Perhaps I’ll get down to look at the original entry books.
We are contemplating developing the lots and putting up a memorial plaque. Not that it matters, but how many victims, both the 34 dead and 50 injured, were Black?
I am one of the few folks that I know that can remember this tragic accident. The reason I remember it so well is because my family went through several hours of anguish waiting to hear from my mother; she often rode the State Street Green Hornet home from work.
My mom worked at Spiegel’s on 35th near Morgan, we lived on 69th and Michigan; she often rode home on the State Street line. On the day of the accident she decided to go shopping for a graduation gift for my cousin, she had not told my aunt. When she was not home by 6pm, as usual, it concerned my aunt. However, all of us were put into a panic when the thick dark plumes of smoke rose from the enflamed accident site and filled the sky. One of our neighbors told us that there had been an accident on State between a street car and gasoline truck.
My cousin and a friend got on their bikes and rode over to State Street to try to see the site, unsuccessfully – it had been cordoned off. On their way home they saw my mom walking from Wentworth to Michigan on 69th Street. Seeing her enter the back gate was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen, even to this day.
She is now 95 and aphasic. Over the years, we never discussed that day nor the horrific accident.
Craig Allen Cleve replies:
Hello, Ben. Thanks for your question. I’ll do my best to answer your questions.
1. Regarding the properties along the east side of the 6200 block of S. State St., I never looked into records regarding ownership. In hindsight, it might have been worthwhile, considering reports that about 120 people were left homeless after the fire. There were only five structures that were completely destroyed, including the large tenement adjacent to the entrance to the turnaround loop. I’m guessing absentee landlords and severe overcrowding. I never researched ownership of the land post fire;
2. Thirty-three people died in the blaze, although several papers reported thirty-four. This was most likely due to the frightful condition of the bodies, particularly those who died at the rear of the trolley. Subsequent examinations put the number at thirty-three;
3. Of the 33, to my best recollection, the following victims were African-American:
Minnnie Banks Dade
Marie A. Franklin
Tishie Mae Johnson
Earl Sue Sharp
That’s about 60%. A good portion of those folks were on their way to Princeton Park, located at about 91st. St. and Wentworth Ave. Princeton Park was a housing development which targeted middle-class blacks in its ad campaigns.
4. I happy to hear that if the land is developed, that the idea of a memorial of some kind is at least being considered. Please let me know if I can help in any way. I hope this info was helpful.
Jon Roma writes:
David, in a recent post to The Trolley Dodger (The End of Summer – September 1, 2020), you have two news photographs of a derailment on the Rapid Transit at Wabash and Van Buren in May 1942. Attached is the article and pictures from the Chicago Daily Tribune from the following day’s newspaper (May 14, 1942).
I’m not certain how a fire a block away from Tower 12 caused this derailment, but my educated guess is that the disruption threw the towerman off his game, leading him to inadvertently throw a switch under a train, jackknifing it into the tower. One CRT employee was killed in this.
Thanks for sharing! The caption on one of the two press photos we posted also mentions that some trains were being rerouted because of the fire. That could also have been a factor in the interlocking switches not getting set correctly.
Wally Weart writes:
As I grew up in Chicago post WW II, many of these pictures bring back lots of memories, I grew up on the North Side but had family on the South Side so I was able to see a lot of Chicago streetcars and “L”s. I rode all the interurbans in the Midwest that were still operating. Please keep up your work, I really enjoy it.
We will do our best, thanks. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
New Steam Audio CD:
FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.
Rio Grande to Silverton:
A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading
These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961. It is long out of print.
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo
Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.
As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.
Total time – 45:49
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways
There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.
While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
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.
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Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)
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