CTA 192 at 63rd Place and Major (5700 W.) in June 1952, after the prewar PCCs had been removed from the 63rd Street route. Some postwar PCCs would also be used on this line before streetcars were abandoned in 1953. Major was the end of the private right-of-way on the west end of this route.
63rd Place and Major today. After streetcars were abandoned, bus service on this portion of the line was relocated to 63rd Street. The same terminal at Narragansett and 63rd Place remained in use, however. We are looking west.
The older house in the middle of the picture (5714 W. 63rd Place) also appears in the 1952 image.
Here is another generous helping of classic Chicago streetcar photos from the latter part of the Chicago Surface Lines era as well as the early days of its successor, the Chicago Transit Authority. We even have one picture from before CSL days.
As always, if you can help identify locations, or have interesting facts or reminiscences to add, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. You can leave comments on this post, or write us directly at:
FYI, there will be additional posts in this series coming up in the near future, so watch this space. To see previous posts, use the search window on this page.
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CSL 1812 at Harrison and Central, ready to head back downtown. That’s Columbus Park at rear. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Harrison and Central today. Now there is a turnaround loop for CTA buses just west of Central.
75th and Vincennes in the 1940s. At left, CSL 241 heads south on through route 22 – Clark-Wentworth, while 2774 heads west on the 74-75 route. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Vincennes and 75th today. We are looking northeast.
CSL 3304 is heading westbound at Armitage and Cicero on route 73. This picture was originally identified as being at Grand, but the buildings do not match up, and there actually was no direct track connection between the Armitage and Grand streetcar lines. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Armitage and Cicero today. We are facing east.
CSL 3278 is identified as being at 51st and Western, on the 51-55 line. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2904, 3110, and 2908 at the Blue Island Station (car house), showing its fireproof concrete and brick construction. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 5998 on the Archer line.
This photo of CSL 2589 is at Michigan and 121st on the Riverdale line, crossing the Blue Island branch of the Illinois Central electric suburban service (today’s Metra Electric). There is another picture of the same car in our post Chicago Streetcars in Black-and-White, Part 6 (May 11, 2015), which explains why 2589 has “keep to right” scrawled on it. That was to warn drivers not to try passing the car on the left while on the bridge over the Little Calumet River, where the line was single track. 2589 was a so-called “Robertson” car, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1901. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Michigan and 121st today.
The interior of CTA 3034 as it appeared in March 1951. This car was built by Brill in 1914. You will find more than a dozen copies of the Rider’s Reader in our E-book The “New Look” in Chicago Transit: 1938-1973, available in our Online Store. (Chicago Transit Authority Photo)
CSL 3304 is westbound at Armitage and Campbell on route 73, having just passed under the Logan Square branch on the “L”. That looks like a Model A Ford at left.
CSL 3111 is westbound at 18th and State, just west of the South Side “L”. I see a 1940s Cadillac at left. Andre Kristopans: “Note also the nominal WB track has no overhead!” (Joe L. Diaz Photo) M. E. adds, “Andre Kristopans points out the westbound track has no trolley wire. That is because this photo shows the eastern terminal of the 18th St. line. The streetcar will switch over to the westbound track to continue west. Behind the streetcar is the 18th St. station on the South Side L. The streetcar’s destination sign says Leavitt – Blue Island, which was the sign on a streetcar in an photo posted previously. You also have a photo at 18th and Sangamon. Together with your earlier photos, It seems the photographer was all over the 18th St. line that day.”
CSL 1520 is southbound on Sheffield at Belmont. It’s hard to make out the sign, but that’s the Hotel Sheffield Manor. (Joe L. Diaz Photo) Steve adds, “Photograph chicago160 with car 1520, faces northwest from the southeast corner of Belmont and Sheffield; a location with which I am very familiar. “Ben Hartman Drugs” is now “Big City Tap” (a 4:00 am bar), occupies the edifice on the northwest corner there. A particularly intriguing bar, “Trader Todd’s”, with a fun karaoke night, is on the ground floor of the Sheffield Manor hotel. The car is signed for Taylor-Western, which I believe means it is on the Taylor-Sedgwick-Sheffield line.”
Belmont and Sheffield today. We are looking northwest.
CSL 3304 passes 3310 at Montrose and Western. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 2808 on the 74th-75th Street route. I spy a 1940s Ford at left. Andre Kristopans: “2808 is at 75th and Exchange. IC South Chicago branch is in background.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 3192 is heading south on Wabash on route 4 – Cottage Grove. We are just south of Harrison. The building to the right of the streetcar has an interesting ironwork facade. It is now the Leviton Gallery, and is located at 619 S. Wabash. Jeff Wien adds, “CSL through Route Number 1 was BROADWAY-COTTAGE GROVE which terminated at Lake Park and 55th. CSL Route 4 was COTTAGE GROVE and it terminated at Cottage Grove and 115th. Prior to the CTA, many of the cars ran without route numbers, just route names and destinations. Since car 3192 is signed up to go to Lake Park & 55th, I would say that it is a Route 1 car, not a Route 4. I realize that I am being very trivial on this point. Meanwhile, the streetcar behind it is a Nearside which would be running on Route 4 Cottage Grove.”
Wabash just south of Harrison today. The “L” has been relocated just north of here to soften out a curve.
CSL 3095 is heading west on the 18th Street line at Jefferson. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 3116 on the 18th Street line. Andre Kristopans: “3116 is at 18th and Sangamon. The railroad is a Burlington branch from the main at 15th down to the “Lumber District” branch along Blue island and Cermak, and was very recently (2015) torn out.” (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
18th and Sangamon today. We are looking northeast.
Chicago City Railway car 2169 on the 75th Street route. According to Central Electric Railfans’ Association bulletin 27 (July 1941), this car was part of an order of 69 closed cable trailer cars (with double door in bulkheads) built by Wells-French in 1896. These cars were electrified in 1908, and most were renumbered. My guess is we are at 75th and South Chicago. This picture would have been taken between 1908 and 1914, when CCR became part of the Chicago Surface Lines. If I am reading B-27 correctly, this car would originally have been numbered 2129. It was scrapped after CSL was formed. Bob Lalich adds, “I agree, Chicago City Railway car 2169 is at 75th and South Chicago Ave. It appears that the Grand Crossing grade separation project was underway, judging by the construction shacks.”
75th and South Chicago today.
CTA 6167 on the 67-69-71 line. Andre Kristopans: “6167 is at (the) 71st/California terminal.”
CSL 3314 on the 67-69-71 line. Andre Kristopans: “3314 (is) WB at 67th at Rhodes.”
CSL 5637 on Stony Island on December 1, 1946. Bob Lalich: “CSL 5637 is a little north of 93rd St. The open space immediately east of Stony Island was a small quarry. CVS high school at 87th and Jeffery can be seen in the background to the right of the car.”
CSL 2755 clatters over the Illinois Central’s South Chicago branch at 79th and Exchange. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
CSL 1401 on the 87th Street line by the Gresham station on the Rock Island. The line ended east of the station and there was no direct track connection to Vincennes on the other side of the RI. We published another photo taken at the same location in our previous post Chicago Surface Lines Photos, Part Four (November 27, 2015) (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
LVT interurbans 1006 and 702 at Perkasie on February 11, 1951. 702 was in fantrip service.
Lehigh Valley Transit
Today, we review a new book about the Liberty Bell Limited, a classic Pennsylvania interurban line that carried passengers between Philadelphia and Allentown until abandonment in the early hours of September 7, 1951. President George H. W. Bush once mistakenly referred to September 7th as Pearl Harbor Day, but to Keystone Traction enthusiasts, it will always be a day that will live in infamy.
Along with our book review, we offer a generous selection of classic Lehigh Valley Transit photos from our own collections– mostly from the Liberty Bell route, but with a few from the Easton Limited, LVT’s “other” interurban, and even a city car to boot.
Riding the Bell: Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell Route by Ron Ruddell
Bulletin 147 of Central Electric Railfans’ Association
There have been many books written about the famed Liberty Bell Limited over the years, including some excellent ones, but Riding the Bell, available now from Central Electric Railfans’ Association* and their dealers, is sure to stand the test of the time as the best and most comprehensive of the lot.
This is not the first time that the “Bell Route” has been covered in a CERA publication, of course. A roster appeared during World War II, and a 1000-series lightweight graced the cover of Trolley Sparks, the organization’s newsletter, when the line was still running.
The late author Ronald DeGraw included much information about LVT in his excellent book Pig & Whistle: The Story of the Philadelphia & Western Railway, published by CERA in 2007 as their 140th bulletin. However, that coverage only pertained to LVT’s use of the P&W line to Norristown, which became the Bell’s main route to Philadelphia in the early 1900s.
Author Ron Ruddell headed up a group of Pennsylvania traction historians, who labored for ten years to create a book equal to their subject. I am glad to say they have succeeded in spades. A tremendous amount of information has been put into Riding the Bell‘s 224 pages, and it would be hard to put anything else into it without needing to take out something just as important.
The 1950s were the twilight years of Keystone Traction, at least outside of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The LVT Liberty Bell Limited was, in some ways, the last great interurban in the eastern United States. It has been gone for 64 years now, meaning you would have to be a few years older than that to have ridden it, even as a youth.
Many Chicago-area railfans made a pilgrimage to ride it, but not all were so lucky. Ray DeGroote, still going strong at 85, did not get there until a few weeks after the interurban quit in 1951. He was able to ride and document the still-extensive LVT city streetcar system, and he saw the interurban cars in dead storage, but could not ride them. It was “one that got away.”
The Bell line is fondly remembered and riding it must have been, in some ways, like riding the world’s largest roller coaster. The area between Allentown and Philadelphia is not flat, with grades that certainly put a strain on LVT’s traction motors. It also included quite a lot of variety, with burst of high speeds, followed by numerous stops in many small towns. Several of the station buildings in these towns still exist.
Luckily for us, Lehigh Valley Transit must be about the most well-documented operation ever, perhaps even more so than the Pacific Electric or the three great Chicago-area interurbans. When it comes to photographs, there is literally an embarrassment of riches, and as a result, the book is full of fine photos, some in color. An attempt has been made not to duplicate ones that were already featured in previous LVT books.
As a subject, LVT operations covered so much ground that this book does not even attempt to document their extensive city lines or the Easton Limited, LVT’s shorter interurban. Those are wisely left to future authors and future books.
Faced with a need to either modernize or abandon rail service in 1938, LVT took the daring step of updating the Liberty Bell fleet. This task was made even more daunting due to a very constrained budget, which meant buying new PCCs or other such equipment was out of the question.
Fortunately, some relatively new (circa 1930) lightweight high-speed interurban cars were available at a relatively low cost, as the Cincinnati & Lake Erie had just been abandoned. 13 cars were purchased for the Bell, along with four Cincinnati curved-side cars for the Easton Limited, and LVT attractively modernized them.
The new cars were a hit with the public, and ridership increased. The facelift was never intended to be permanent, but was hoped to buy the interurban another five years of usefulness before the inevitable switch to bus. It ended up lasting for 12, a testament to the build quality and durability of these cars.
There were many unfortunate problems along the way. The ex-C&LE lightweights could not be coupled together. More passengers meant running additional trains in second and third sections. Inevitably, this led to a horrific accident in 1942, which was not the only such collision.
After one of the C&LE cars was destroyed in a fire, LVT purchased one additional lightweight car, which had been built for the Indiana Railroad. This was rebuilt into club car 1030, which became the standout of the fleet and one of the few Liberty Bell cars that has been preserved.
Wartime rationing of gasoline and tires also increased ridership. The wear and tear of all that hill climbing really did a number on those traction motors. Schedules had to be adjusted in the interest of safety, and running times between Allentown and Philadelphia increased.
What really would have helped LVT would have been some more of those ex-Indiana Railroad cars, which were very similar to the C&LE “Red Devils” but could be coupled together in as many as three cars at a time. More than two dozen of these cars were available circa 1940-41 but ended up being unsold and were scrapped just prior to the outbreak of World War II. They would have been quite useful to LVT.
Only two such Indiana Railroad lightweights were saved– car 55, which became LVT 1030, and car 65, which was sold to CRANDIC (Cedar Rapids and Iowa City) and eventually made its way to the Illinois Railway Museum, its first acquisition. Oddly enough, they were made by two different builders.
The end of the war in 1945 meant a steep drop-off in interurban ridership. By then, the handwriting was really on the wall for the Bell line, but the end did not come for another few years yet.
There was a piecemeal abandonment. For a variety of reasons, well covered in this book and in Pig & Whistle, service was cut back to Norristown. The Liberty Bell Limited never had a direct route to center city Philadelphia throughout its history.
Consideration was given to cutting service back to Lansdale, where the Bell could connect to Reading (now SEPTA) suburban commuter trains to Philadelphia, but this would have necessitated building a turnaround loop for the single-end cars. Since the Bell’s days were numbered anyway, LVT decided to simply let service continue as far as Norristown and the P&W.
By 1951, LVT had really let maintenance slide, to the point where, in September, only a few of the lightweight interurban cars were still operable. As soon as they could get approval for abandonment, the end was swift. Fortunately, the fans caught wind of it and the railroad allowed them to ride one last time. The rails began to come up the very next morning.
In some ways, this abandonment has some parallels in what happened a few years later to the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin. They decided not to continue running trains to Chicago’s downtown over the CTA Garfield Park “L” temporary trackage in 1953, due to expressway construction. In CA&E’s case, however, they kept up the equipment right to the end, as did the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee, which quit in 1963.
When CA&E got a local judge to allow their “temporary” abandonment of passenger service on July 3, 1957, they ceased operations immediately, stranding thousands of riders who had to scramble for a way home.
In LVT’s case, they offered a replacement bus service. Unfortunately, while the interurban could run in a straight line between towns, the bus had to follow a more convoluted path at right angles. As more and more highways were built in Pennsylvania, even the bus ridership evaporated, and the interurban bus quit without any fanfare in 1956.
While electric rail transit is undergoing a renaissance in many places around the world today, the chance that anything like a Liberty Bell service might return to the Lehigh Valley is very slim indeed. The cost would simply be too great, compared to the number of potential passengers.
But until it does, the spirit of this historic interurban is conjured up very well in this great new volume by Ron Ruddell. Hats off to him, and to the team that worked so long and hard to make this book possible. I would also like to single out John Nicholson, who acted as project coordinator for CERA in bringing this very worthy book over the finish line. Publishing any book like this is a very complicated effort.
The layout, by the veteran team of Jack and Ad Sowchin, is handsome and attractive. CERA merits a lot of credit as well for publishing this wonderful addition to the historical record.
Even if you do not live in Pennsylvania, the book may interest you. The Bell was one of the classic interurbans and, in one way or another, it had many connections to the Midwest.
It is highly recommended, and I urge you to purchase a copy if you have not done so already. Only limited quantities of such books are made, and once they run out, the prospect of them being reprinted is unlikely for a variety of reasons.
Many previous CERA books have become collector’s items and cost more to buy used than they did when new. I will not be surprised when this book sells out and if you don’t purchase your copy today, you may have difficulty picking one up in the future.
In addition to this book, there are also some excellent Liberty Bell videos on the market, and those will really give you an idea of what the line was all about, after you have whetted your appetite by feasting on Riding the Bell.
PS- You can also experience some of the twilight of Keystone Traction via one of our recently released audio CDs, featuring 1950s-era Hi-Fi recordings of Johnstown Traction, Altoona & Logan Valley, and Scranton Transit, available from our Online Store. Just look for the Railroad Record Club disc with LPs 23 and 30 on it.
*Trolley Dodger Press is not affiliated with Central Electric Railfans’ Association.
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This is our 102nd 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 99,000 page views from over 28,500 individuals.
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LVT 812 at 69th Street terminal in Upper Darby on August 12, 1934. Most people refer to this as Philadelphia, but it is just outside the city limits. Don’s Rail Photos says, “812 was built by St Louis Car in 1901 as 159. It was rebuilt as 999 in 1914 and rebuilt as 812 in 1921. It was scrapped in November 1951.”
LVT 808 in Allentown on April 22, 1934. Don’s Rail Photos: “808 was built by Jewett Car in 1913. It was rebuilt as C15 in 1935.” The C-series cars were used for interurban freight.
LVT 805 at 69th Street terminal in Upper Darby. This car was built by Jewett circa 1912-13. Apparently this car has been preserved and is privately owned but not operable.
LVT 812 in the Easton town circle on June 30, 1947, making a rare appearance on LVT’s “other” interurban, the Easton Limited by way of a fantrip. (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)
LVT 812 on Broad Street in Bethlehem on June 30, 1947. The occasion was a fantrip. Many fans considered it a real shame that the 812 was not saved. Other than the 1030, it was the “jewel of the fleet.” (James Maloney, Jr. Photo)
LVT 1007 at Perkasie on November 12, 1939.
LVT 1020 at 69th Street terminal in 1939, shortly after being modernized. Don’s Rail Photos: “1020 was built by Cincinnati Car in April 1930, #3055, as C&LE 113. It was renumbered 413 in 1932 and sold to LVT as 1020 in 1938. It was scrapped in 1951.”
Another view of 1020 taken at the same time as the previous photo. Jim Boylan adds, “Location is the wye where the Victory Ave. bus garage is now, across the tracks from the P&W’s 72nd St. Shops.”
LVT 702, 704, and 710 are southbound on a fantrip at West Point on April 15, 1951. This was the first and only time a matched set of three 700-series cars were operated as a multiple unit. Shortly after this, the 710, looking pretty shabby here, was scrapped.
LVT 702 at Locust Siding on February 11, 1951.
LVT 1009 at Hatfield on May 9,1951. (William D. Slade Photo)
From this scene, it would appear that a Liberty Bell Limited lightweight is backing up to the LVT downtown terminal in Allentown. Meanwhile, LVT city streetcar 900 passes by. Don’s Rail Photos says, “900 was built by Brill Car Co in February 1917, (order) #20206. It was (later) rebuilt.” Looks like an LVT employee is crossing the street.
An LVT 1100-series lightweight interurban, still looking shiny, in the Easton town square circa 1939. These Cincinnati curved-side cars were built in 1929 for the Dayton & Troy. They were repossessed in 1932 and remained at the Cincinnati Car Company plant until sold to LVT in 1938. After the Easton Limited was bussed in 1949, two of the four cars were sold to Speedrail in Milwaukee, where one operated briefly as car 66. Unfortunately all four cars were scrapped.
LVT 812 heading towards Allentown on the Liberty Bell Limited.
An LVT 1000-series car delivers newspapers (probably dailies from Philadelphia) in Allentown.
LVT 1030, the so-called “Golden Calf” of the fleet, on a National Railway Historical Society fantrip on September 28, 1941. This club car was just being introduced into regular service at this time, and had been extensively rebuilt from Indiana Railroad car 55. Don’s Rail Photos: “1030 was built by American Car & Foundry in 1931, #1203, as Indiana RR 55. It was rebuilt in 1934 (as a club car) and rebuilt as C&LE 1030 in 1941. It was acquired by Seashore Trolley Museum in 1951.”
LVT 1103 on the Easton Limited interurban. From the looks of the cars, this picture probably dates to around 1939. (Larry Gaillard Photo)
LVT 1007 making a fantrip photo stop on the Liberty Bell Limited. A fan with a box camera is jumping off.
CRANDIC 111, shown here on June 10, 1953, was another ex-Cinicinnati & Lake Erie lightweight interurban car. While all the ones that went to LVT were scrapped, some of the ones that went to CRANDIC were saved. Don’s Rail Photos:”111 was built by Cincinnati Car in 1930, #3055, as C&LE 111. It was sold to Crandic in 1939 and kept the same number. In 1954 it was sold to an individual and stored at Emporia, KS, until 1973. It was then donated to the Bay Area Electric Railway Association at Rio Vista, CA. It has been restored as Crandic 111.”
One other Indiana Railroad high-speed car had a second life, in addition to 55. Car 65 became Cedar Rapids and Iowa City 120, shown here on June 10, 1953. From Don’s Rail Photos: “120 was built by Pullman in 1931, #6399, as Indiana Railroad 65. It was sold to the Crandic as 120 in 1941. In 1954 it was purchased as the first car of the Illinois Electric Railway Museum and restored as IRR 65.” The last official run of a CRANDIC passenger train occurred on May 30, 1953.
LVT 1001, 701, 1008 and 702 at Fairview car barn in Allentown on January 6, 1952, shortly before being scrapped.
LVT 1006 in the scrap line at Bethlehem Steel on January 23, 1952.
LVT 1030 loaded on a flat car at Riverside Yard on January 30, 1952, headed to Boston, and, eventually, the Seashore Trolley Museum in Maine, where it remains today in operable condition.
Machine-generated Liberty Bell Limited tickets.
Lehigh Valley Transit’s Liberty Bell Limited lightweight high-speed car 1001 (ex-Cincinnati & Lake Erie 128) at the 69th Street Terminal on the Philadelphia & Western, September 21, 1949. Soon after this picture was taken, LVT passenger service was cut back to Norristown.
We’ve been asked to help determine the authentic colors this rare model should be painted in.
An “O” scale streetcar model, probably dating to the 1950s, recently sold for $520 on eBay, even though it is unpainted and needs a motor, wheels, and a trolley pole.
That might seem like quite a lot of money, until you consider that this is an extremely rare brass model of the Chicago Surface Lines 1934 Brill pre-PCC car 7001. This model, made by Kidder, could be the only version that was ever made.
The famous St. Petersburg Tram Collection models are made of urethane, not brass, and so far, they have not issued a 7001 model, although they have made one for the 4001, the other experimental 1934 CSL car, made by Pullman-Standard. The actual 7001 itself, a one-off, was quite influential on the eventual body style chosen for the PCC car starting in 1936. Unfortunately, it was scrapped in 1959.
The eBay auction winner contacted us for help in determining what colors the 7001 was painted in, when first delivered to Chicago. This is not as easy a task as you might imagine.
The earliest color photo I have seen of 7001 dates to 1941, by which time the car had been repainted to match the 83 PCC cars delivered to CSL in 1936-37. There are several black and white pictures circulating, but while they tell us how light or dark various parts of the car were painted, they can’t help us figure out colors.
There may not actually be any color photos that show what the 7001 looked like before it was repainted.
There were no true color standards in 1934, such as today’s Pantone Matching System. Complicating matters further, in the 1930s not all black and white films were “panchromatic,” meaning they react the same to different colors. Some were still “orthochromatic” and had exaggerated sensitivity to certain colors.
Kodak did not introduce Kodachrome film until 1935, and it was rarely used to take 35mm slides before 1939.
There were some experimental color films shot during the 1933 season of A Century of Progress (early three-strip Technicolor), and we linked to some of those in an earlier post (February 20th). 7001 wasn’t delivered until 1934, and it was not there for the entire season in any case; during September it spent some time in Cleveland at a trade convention.
While there was a 1934 Brill trade ad, showing an artist’s rendering of 7001 in color, these aren’t the right colors– the body is too dark. Interestingly, the color scheme in the ad looks remarkably similar to the one CSL used on the 1936 PCCs.
Hoping to find a consensus, we reached out to Frank Hicks of the Hicks Car Works blog, author of an excellent article detailing the story behind both the 7001 and 4001. In that article, Mr. Hicks says that the 7001 was originally painted a light green.
We also consulted two expert modelers, who prefer to remain nameless. Here is what the experts have to say:
Interesting question! This is my kind of conundrum. 🙂
I’d be happy to cite my source. “Chicago Surface Lines: An Illustrated History, Third Edition” by Alan Lind, 1986, page 121. To wit: “Everywhere it  went, riders commented favorably on its sleek shape, set off to advantage with a paint scheme of aluminum and two shades of green with orange trim.” I’m not sure what the primary source for this account was, I’m afraid.
I’ve also seen photos of (the painted 7001) model and it has struck me as looking quite plausible, though I’ve never seen a color photo of either 4001 or 7001 in its original livery. I also haven’t seen the illustration you mention. The 4001 had a very simple livery consisting of only two colors while the 7001’s livery evidently featured five colors: roof, lower body, upper body, belt rail and striping. Judging from various photos of the 7001 that show the belt rail alternately as very dark or quite light, I’d guess the belt rail was orange and that we’re seeing – respectively – orthochromatic or panchromatic views. Photos I’ve seen also strongly suggest the roof and front visor were a metallic color, surely silver.
I decided to see if I could find a newspaper account of the 7001’s debut – and I did! I found two mentions within a few minutes of Googling. There’s an article on page 3 of the March 21, 1934 Tribune at http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1934/03/21/ which describes the car’s colors to be “silver and gray.” There’s another account in the July 9, 1934 issue on page 7 (http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1934/07/09/). This article focuses on the newly-delivered 4001 but includes the line “The new car was demonstrated to a party of engineers, car line officials, and newspapermen, beside the streamlined silver and green vehicle recently placed in operation.” Then just a few lines later it refers to the Brill car as “silver and gray.”
So, I don’t know. The 7001 may have been more of a green-grey than a bright Mercury green-like shade. It’s also possible that the 7001’s primary body color was grey, that Lind’s color description was correct but simply left out the gray color, and that the belt rail, striping, and secondary body color were some combination of two shades of green and orange. A third possibility I would forward is that the car was mainly green and that what we’re seeing is a transcription or typesetting error – swapping out the word “green” for the word “gray.” It may be a bit of a stretch but I’ve done my share of poring over old newspapers and accuracy is not a word I’d generally associate with newspaper articles! Either way I haven’t seen any contemporary evidence to support that flyer’s suggestion that the Brill car was, in common with the Pullman car, blue.
The color is not Mercury Green but I don’t know the name of the shade. It is lighter than Mercury. Brill used the same shade on the first Brilliner delivered to the Atlantic City & Shore then owned by the PRR. That car had narrow gold stripes on it similar to the Raymond Loewy styling of the 1938 Broadway Limited trains. There are color renditions of the Brilliner in (that) shade of green in numerous trade journals of the time.
As you may recall, Mercury Green seemed to be darker in some photos than in others. Perhaps the Mercury Green color had variations, some lighter and some darker. I recall hearing talk about what was Traction Orange, and the reply was whatever they could get that seemed close to Traction Orange! It was not an exact science so there were variations.
Having looked at Black & White movies of car 7001 in service as well as B&W photos, I can see how one could feel comfortable with a Mercury Green color on the lower body of the car. The paint was probably not called Mercury Green in those days, but it might have been very close in hue.
After I sent Mr. Hicks a copy of the 1934 trade ad, he wrote:
Thanks for forwarding these photos; interesting stuff! Did you say that Transit Journal illustration of the 7001 was from 1934? That’s pretty intriguing to me mainly because the color scheme is extremely similar to the prewar PCC cars, suggesting that perhaps the decision on what color those cars should be was made well before the cars themselves were even ordered. Or who knows, maybe someone at CSL just saw this illustration and thought it would look nice in real life. Neat! And Modeler A’s statement that the green on the 7001 was very similar to that on the Atlantic City demonstrator does make some sense; I wouldn’t be at all surprised. It also looks more toned-down than Mercury green so perhaps that’s where the disagreements in the newspaper over whether the car was grey or green came from.
Yes, the Brill illustration was from 1934. By 1935 they were touting the Washington, D. C. pre-PCC cars.
Could be Brill worked up several different color schemes for 7001 and they just happened to pick this particular one for the advertisement, even though the car itself was painted differently.
I know that Brill had a styling department in this period, since they worked as consultants on the 1939-41 modernization program for Lehigh Valley Transit. (See photo below.)
So yes, the original color scheme for the 1936 Chicago PCCs, built by St. Louis Car Company, may have actually originated with Brill, who never actually built any PCC cars.
Modeler A added:
My enlightenment on the topic of color for the 7001 comes from Bob Gibson, Joe Diaz, Jim Konas, Fielding Kunecke, and Bob Konsbruck, all sadly now deceased. These fellows, all older than me, saw the car and rode it in service. Bob Gibson rode it every day, in blue, of course, on his way home from Austin High School. It ran as a PM school tripper on Madison Street, always with the same crew, familiar with the operating characteristics of the car, the hydraulic brakes, for example. Its unfortunate that we cannot get their testimony today but I can carry on their remarks. Joe Diaz, an avid follower of the Pennsylvania RR, included all things Pennsy in his historic trek and he identified the color as identical to the Brilliner demonstrator delivered to the PRR-Atlantic City & Shore. You can take it for what its worth or stay with whatever the news reporter felt like writing that day.
I would value eyewitness accounts such as you describe over the offhand remarks made in a newspaper article. The people who wrote those articles weren’t fans, while your sources were all sticklers for accuracy.
Modeler B adds:
I would say that the photo (of the Atlantic City Brilliner) showing the two tone green colors adds credence to the attractive rendition as seen on Modeler A’s model of 7001. Using the lighter color green below the belt rail and the darker color green for the thin lines that flow around the car body.
Say what you may, these color combinations are exactly what CSL used on the Post War PCCs. Mercury Green below the belt rail, Swamp holly Orange Belt Rail, and Cream colored roof. The colors were always separated by a dark green line of paint. Some people thought that the thin line was Black, but it is a very dark shade of green, not unlike the Green shown on the Atlantic City Brilliner.
In conclusion, we all now seem to agree that the 7001 was indeed first painted in colors like those shown on the model. In turn, this color scheme is remarkably similar to the classic combination of Mercury Green, Croydon Cream, and Swamp Holly Orange that Surface Lines picked for the 600 postwar PCCs.
Therefore, it is one of the ironies of history that J. G. Brill, who never made a single PCC streetcar, due to their refusal to pay royalties on the patents, appears to have played an important role, albeit indirect, in the process of developing the color schemes ultimately used on the entire Chicago PCC fleet– all 683 cars.
And, the more you look at it, that $520 winning bid for the 7001 model starts to look like a real bargain.
In this Brill trade ad, which appeared in a 1934 issue of Transit Journal, 7001 looks quite a lot like the PCCs Chicago got in 1936– from the St. Louis Car Company. But it does not appear to have been painted in these colors in 1934. Interestingly, it was later repainted to look a lot more like this.
CSL 7001 at the Brill plant in Philadelphia. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania Photo)
CSL 7001 in World’s Fair service in 1934. (George Kanary Collection)
This 1935 CSL brochure shows experimental pre-PCC car 7001 painted mainly in red, which it never was.
CSL 7001 at Clark and Ridge in 1938. (M. D. McCarter Collection)
A 1950s brass model of 7001.
To the best of our knowledge, this is how 7001 looked as delivered to the Chicago Surface Lines in 1934.
According to Don’s Rail Photos, “Atlantic City and Shore 6891 was built by Brill in July 1938, #23646. It was renumbered 6901 in 1940 and renumbered 201 in 1945. It was scrapped in 1956.” The light green color on this car is said to be an exact match for how 7001 was originally painted. (General Electric Photo)
Now perhaps we know the origins of the famous color combination of Mercury Green, Croydon Cream, and Swamp Holly Orange, used on 600 postwar Chicago PCC cars. (David Sadowski Photo)
Brill stylists worked as consultants on the brilliant 1939-41 modernization of Lehigh Valley Transit’s fleet. Here, ex-Indiana Railroad car 55 is shown at Fairview Shops in Allentown, PA in May 1941, in the process of being converted for service on the Liberty Bell Limited. Notice how the “55” has been crossed out on the side of the car and replaced with “1030.” After the end of LVT interurban service in 1951, this car was sold to the Seashore Trolley Museum, where it remains today.
CSL 7001 as it looked after being repainted circa 1941.
A lineup of CSL trolley buses purchased in 1937 from Brill. The location probably Central and Avondale, now the site of the Kennedy expressway.
We generally don’t feature buses on this blog, since our main interest is in streetcars, light rail, and electric rail transit. But we do get requests to post more bus photos, and we are fortunate to have some excellent ones to show you today, thanks to the incredible generosity of George Trapp. Mr. Trapp has been collecting these type of pictures for nearly the last 50 years, and we thank him for sharing them with us.
We featured some of Mr. Trapp’s PCC pictures in our last post, and there will be several more such posts to come in the near future. Watch this space for more great Chicago PCC pictures.
From 1930 to 1947, the Chicago Surface Lines had an operating philosophy called “Balanced Transit,” whereby streetcars were for the ehaviest lines, trolley buses for the medium-sized routes, and gas or diesel buses for the lightest lines. Trolley buses were first used on new routes that went into the northwest side of Chicago, which was then developing rapidly.
There had been a competition between CSL and the Chicago Motor Coach Company to see which firm would get these routes, and CSL won out. While it may be that their intention was to eventually convert trolley bus lines to streetcar once they had developed sufficient ridership, in actual practice, this never happened.
The Chicago Transit Authority took over from CSL on October 1, 1947, and converted some additional streetcar lines to trolley bus. But the last such vehicles were purchased circa 1951 and by 1959, one year after streetcar service ended in Chicago, began a gradual phase-out of trolley buses in Chicago. The last one ran in 1973.
A 1951 CTA consultant’s report, the full text of which is included in out E-book Chicago’s PCC Streetcars: The Rest of the Story (available in our Online Store), recommended that the agency not purchase any more electric vehicles, due to the cost of electric power purchased fro Commonwealth Edison. A 1954 study by CTA Board member Werner W. Schroeder (which is also included in our E-book) said that trolley buses were the most profitable vehicles used by the CTA, but explained this away by saying they were being used on the cream of the routes.
During the 1950s, CTA’s preferred type of surface vehicle was the propane-powered bus. Propane was very cheap for most of the decade, but by 1960 costs had risen to the point where there was no cost advantage over diesels. There were many operational problems with propane buses, which were underpowered, sluggish, and had difficulty maintaining schedules. There were also a few spectacular fires and explosions involving propane.
The propane vs. diesel debate prompted a rare public spat between Chicago Transit Board members, which was settled when the CTA began purchasing GM diesel buses in 1961. The heyday of the propane bus, once the CTA’s darling, proved to be much shorter and less successful than that of the trolley bus (aka trolley coach or trackless trolley), which was fast, quiet, efficient, and very popular with the riding public.
Trolley buses are still being used in a half dozen North American cities, more than 40 years after Chicago stopped using them. Today, the only electric buses on the CTA system are a couple of battery-powered ones recently put into use.
Most of today’s pictures feature buses purchased by the Chicago Surface Lines prior to the 1947 CTA takeover.
As always, if you have any interesting tidbits of information to share about the photos you see here, don’t hesitate to let us know, either by making a comment on this post, or by dropping us a line to:
PS- Today (September 30th), The Trolley Dodger blog reaches another milestone with 75,000 page views, and has been read by over 22,000 individuals. We thank you for your continued support.
CTA trolley bus 116.
CSL 1602. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
CSL 6518. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
CTA 6615 and 6622.
CTA 6830 – March 1951. (Chicago Transit Authority Photo)
CSL 6410, a General Motors gas bus from the 6401-6410 series, on March 5, 1944.
CSL 448. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
CTA 6206, a GM gas bus, built in 1942, in March 1951. The photo caption says that one bus in this series, #6306, was a diesel, used on 115th Street. Andre Kristopans adds, “In March 1951 CTA sent a photographer out to shoot exteriors and interiors of every bus and trolley bus series in the city. Most of the GM/Yellows were at Beverly Garage at the time. The 6200 photo caption is a bit incorrect. The 6201-6220 series were gas TG-3205’s, while the 6301-6306 were indeed diesels, TG-3605’s, one window and four seats longer.” (Chicago Transit Authority Photo)
CSL 3444. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
White-built CSL bus 3426 in 1945. (CSL Photo)
An ACF builder’s photo of CSL 507. (Railway Negative Exchange)
CSL 506, an ACF gas bus, in 1935.
CTA 9763, dubbed the “Queen Mary” by fans, was an experimental articulated bus that was converted to a trolley coach. It is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)
A CTA trolley bus used on route 80 – Irving Park.
CTA trolley bus 192, signed for route 72 – North Avenue.
CSL trolley bus 198.
CSL trolley bus 184. Interestingly, a sign on the front urges people to ride streetcars for short and long trips. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
CTA trolley bus 176, signed for route 77 – Belmont.
CSL trolley bus 173, built by St. Louis Car Company in 1935, signed for route 86 – Narragansett. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
CSL 177, signed for route 76 – Diversey. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
CSL trolley bus 165 on route 76 – Diversey. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
CSL trolley bus 106 on route 76 – Diversey on November 14, 1930. (Railway Negative Exchange)
CSL trolley bus 80.
CSL trolley bus 116, signed for route 85 – Central Avenue.
A 1931 CSL trolley bus equipped with a snow plow. (CSL Photo, Krambles-Peterson Archive)
A portion of the AE&FRE right-of-way is now occupied by the Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin. Former AE&FRE car 304, sister to the 301 shown here, has found its way back to its original rails, and you can ride it at the museum. Meanwhile, the Illinois Railway Museum in Union has the largest collection of CA&E cars anywhere.
Historical color pictures are naturally more popular than black-and-white, but are naturally limited to the era when Kodachrome and other slide films were available. Personally, I find there is much to appreciate in these black-and-white photos, which often date to an older era that predates the availability of color. The original negatives were usually larger than 35mm, which means the picture has the potential of being a lot sharper than a slide.
We hope that you will enjoy this trip down memory lane. If these images inspire you to add your own insights or comments, do not hesitate to write to us, either using the “comments” function here, or to:
PS- We thank Don Ross and Don’s Rail Photos for providing much of the information on the history of individual cars via his very comprehensive web site.
#2 – A three-car CA&E train heads west over Union Station, having just left Wells Street Terminal. (B. H. Nichols Photo)
#3 – CA&E freight motor 15 at Wheaton on February 1, 1954. (Arthur B. Johnson Photo)
#4 – Aurora, Elgin & Fox River #49 at Coleman on September 1, 1940, with the Illinois Central overhead. This was one of the earlier CERA fantrips. By then, the line was freight-only, although still operating under wire. (Roy Bruce Photo)
#5 – Aurora, Elgin & Fox River Electric 301 in 1929. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “301 was built by St Louis Car in 1924, (order) #1308. In 1936 it was sold to CI/SHRT as 301 and to Speedrail in May 1950. It was scrapped in 1952.”
#6 – CA&E snow plow 3 at Wheaton Shops. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “3 was built in the company shops in 1909 as a plow.”
#7 – CA&E 10. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “10 was built by Niles Car in 1902. It was rebuilt with a baggage compartment in 1910. It was later removed, but then reinstalled in April 1933 for funeral service. It was wrecked September 10, 1948, and scrapped.” (James B. M. Johnson Photo)
#8 – Metropolitan West Side Elevated car 800 and train at Glenwood Park on the CA&E Batavia branch on a charter. This car was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 and was renumbered to 2800 in 1913. This photo must predate that renumbering.
#9 -CA&E line car 11. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “11 was built by Brill in 1910, (order) #16483. It was rebuilt to a line car in 1947 and replaced 45. It was acquired by Railway Equipment Leasing & Invenstment Co in 1962 and came to Fox River Trolley Museum in 1984. It was lettered as Fox River & Eastern.
#10 – CA&E 603 at Wheaton on April 2, 1957. Don’s Rail Photos says, “In 1937, the CA&E needed additional equipment. Much was available, but most of the cars suffered from extended lack of maintenance. Finally, 5 coaches were found on the Washington Baltimore & Annapolis which were just the ticket. 35 thru 39, built by Washington Baltimore & Annapolis in 1913, were purchased and remodeled for service as 600 thru 604. The ends were narrowed for service on the El. They had been motors, but came out as control trailers. Other modifications included drawbars, control, etc. A new paint scheme was devised. Blue and grey with red trim and tan roof was adopted from several selections. They entered service between July and October in 1937. “
#11 – Although this is a double exposure, it does show an unnumbered wooden interurban, ex-Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee in Wheaton in 1946. It was part of the 129-144 series, the last passenger cars purchased by CA&E. Don’s Rail Photos says, “In 1936, the CA&E leased 11 surplus cars from the CNS&M. These cars were modified for service by raising the coupler height, installing electric heat instead of the coal-fired hot water heaters, modifying the control, and adding jumper receptacles and other minor fittings to allow them to train with the other CA&E cars. Since these were 50 mile per hour cars, and the CA&E cars wer 60 MPH cars, they were soon operated only in trains of their own kind rather than mixed in with other cars. In 1945 they were returned to the North Shore where they operated briefly. They were purchased in 1946 and last ran in regular service in September, 1953.”
#12 – CA&E 402 at Laramie in March 1946, with CRT 2893 at left. 402 was built by Pullman in 1923 as one of the first steel cars on the CA&E.
#13 – The Chicago & North Western station at Wheaton. CA&E paralleled C&NW in this area and its tracks are off to the left.
#14 – CA&E wood cars 310 and 309 at Batavia station on a May 19, 1957 fantrip. According to Don’s Rail Photos, 309 and 310 were built by Hicks Car Works in 1907 and modernized in October 1941. Car 309 was acquired by the Illinois Railway Museum in 1962.
#15 – Car 134 under a 90 foot stretch of trolley wire at State Road on the Batavia branch on August 31, 1941. According to Don’s Rail Photos, “134 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1907 as Chicago & Milwaukee Electric 134. It was rebuilt in 1914 retired in 1948.” When this picture was taken, this car was being leased by CA&E from the North Shore Line.
#16 – CA&E 453 at Des Plaines Avenue terminal in August 1955. Cars 451-460 were ordered in 1941 but delayed by war. They were built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1945-46 and are considered the last “standard” interurban cars built in the US, although this is a somewhat debatable point.
#17 – CA&E 312 (described as “part steel”) just west of Wheaton in August 1952 on the way to Aurora. This appears to be the same location (Childs Street) as Photo #88 in Part 2 of our recent CA&E Mystery Photos Contest. Randy Hicks: “the lead car is the 309; the train is eastbound.”
#18 – CA&E 318 in Warrenville on a July 4, 1956 fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos says, “318 was built by Jewett Car Co in 1914. It had steel sheating and was modernized in 1944. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Raiway Historical Society in 1962. It was wrecked in transit and the parts were sold to IRM to restore 321.” Randy Hicks: “the second car on this fantrip was the 300. This car was not preserved, but its seats were acquired by North Freedom and are now at IRM.”
#19 – CA&E 422 at Wheaton in February 1952.
#20 – CA&E 406 at State Road on the Batavia branch in 1954.
#21 – CA&E 404 and 453 at Forest Park sometime between 1953 and 1957.
#22 – CA&E 460 at Lakewood in 1954.
#23 – CA&E 10. This car was wrecked on September 10, 1948 so this photo must predate that. Randy Hicks: “the 10 is at the end of the train; the next car is the 320. I doubt this was a fantrip, as I’ve never seen five (or more) cars used for this purpose.”
CSL 7001 at Clark and Ridge in 1938. (M. D. McCarter Collection)
The PCC (short for Presidents’ Conference Committee) streetcar has been in continuous use since 1936, a remarkable 79 years. It literally saved the North American streetcar from extinction, but its development took several years and it did not appear in a vacuum. The presidents of several transit companies banded together in 1929 to develop a new, modern streetcar that could compete with buses and automobiles. The first production PCCs were made in 1936, the last in 1952.
The Chicago Surface Lines played an important part in the PCC’s development. Chicago ultimately had 683 PCCs, the largest fleet purchased new by any city, but in actuality CSL had 785 modern cars in all. There were 100 Peter Witt streetcars built in 1929 by a combination of CSL, Brill, and Cummings Car Co., and two experimental pre-PCCs, 4001 (built by Pullman-Standard) and 7001 (Brill), which dated to 1934.
The Peter Witt car was developed by its namesake in Cleveland around 1914 and set the standard for streetcars for the next 20 years. (Chicago’s batch were also referred to as “sedans.”) During the late 1920s and early 1930s, there was a similar type of car known as the “Master Unit*” made by Brill (Pullman-owned Osgood-Bradley made a similar model called the “Electromobile.”)
In conjunction with the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair, also known as A Century of Progress, CSL commissioned two experimental streetcars, the 4001 and 7001, with advanced features. (You can read an excellent and very comprehensive history of those cars on the Hicks Car Works blog.)
Of the two cars, the 4001 was more radical in both design and construction, with a streamlined all-aluminum body, but probably the less successful of the two. Both were taken out of service in 1944. The 4001 is the only pre-PCC car to survive, and is now preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum. The 7001 was scrapped by CTA in 1959.
Ironically, the 7001, made by J. G. Brill, was closer to the eventual design of the PCC car, although ultimately Brill did not build any true PCCs. The company had a policy not to pay patent royalties to other companies, and refused to do so with PCC technology owned by the Transit Research Corp. (TRC).
In 1935, Capital Transit ordered 20 pre-PCC cars for Washington D. C. based on the design of car 7001, but shorter. The order was split between Brill and St. Louis Car Company. This was an important step, since these were more than simply experimental units. Car 1053 managed to survive the end of streetcar service in Washington DC in 1962, until September 28, 2003 when it was destroyed in a fire at the National Capital Trolley Museum in Maryland.
There were also two additional 1934 experimental cars, the PCC Model A and B, which were used for field testing. The Model A was built in 1929 by Twin Coach and purchased second-hand to test new components. It was tested in Brooklyn circa 1934-35 and was scrapped in 1939.
The streamlined Model B incorporated all the latest PCC developments and was tested in Chicago, arguably the first PCC car operated here. While in use in Brooklyn, the PCC Model B dewired and was involved in an accident with a truck after its brakes failed. This led to the brake systems being redesigned for the first PCCs. The Model B was kept in storage for some time, and although the front end was repaired, it was never again used in service and was scrapped in the early 1950s.
By 1936, the first production PCCs were ready to go and the first one was delivered to Brooklyn and Queens Transit on May 28, 1936. However, Pittsburgh Railways put the first PCC into scheduled public service in August.
Brill’s decision not to build true PCCs ultimately proved fatal. Their 1938-41 “Brilliner” was considered somewhat inferior to the PCC car and few were built. 30 single-ended cars went to Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Cincinnati, while 10 double-ended cars were built for Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co., where they continued in service into the early 1980s.
These were the last streetcars made by Brill, who had once dominated the industry. Most PCCs were built by the St. Louis Car Company, with a smaller share from Pullman-Standard.
We hope that you will enjoy these pictures of these pre-PCC cars, the ones that laid the groundwork for the “car that fought back,” which continues to serve faithfully and well in a number of North American cities, and hopefully will continue to do so for a long time to come.
“The idea was to produce standardized cars. Both ends of the car were to be identical in construction. Height and width of the car, size and number of windows, seat width and therefore aisle width were to be the same for every unit of a specific type. The cars were offered in single-or double-truck, and single-or double-end style, with doors located at the ends or with a combination end door and center door. Master Units could be constructed with steel or aluminum, the difference in weight being about 5,000 pounds. Interestingly, the cars had curved lower sides very much like the curve used on the lower panels of the Kuhlman and Brill-built cars of a few years previously. There was nothing patentable about the Master Unit: it was merely a standardized design.
To Brill’s disappointment, buyers did not appear in large numbers. Only seventy-eight Master Units were built in all, with just two constructed exactly to Brill’s specifications.”
Here is an interesting blog post about the effort to restore the 505.
Here is a video showing a model of an Electromobile:
As an added bonus, as streetcars prepare to return to service in Washington D. C., here are some vintage films showing a variety of streetcars in action, including both PCCs, the 1935 pre-PCCs, and even some older types:
Very nice job on the Pre-PCC post on your blog! It’s a great post with some outstanding photos, and of course I appreciate the “plug” as well.
Several of the photos you posted I had never seen before. The photo of the 4001 in service is really nice; shots of the car in regular use are really pretty rare. It was quite the “hangar queen” when it was on the CSL. And the Model B interior shot is fascinating! I think I saw that rear-end shot somewhere once but I don’t know that I’d ever seen a photo of the car’s interior. What I found most fascinating is that it appears the car was designed to have left-hand doors fitted in the middle, Boston style (and likely so that it could be used or tested out in Boston, as I think Boston is the only city that had PCCs with this feature). Close examination of the interior shot shows an inset panel across from the center doors and I bet it was designed for doors to be put there if desired. It would be interesting to know more about the Model B. I’m not even sure whether it was set up for one-man or two-man service; the photo makes it clear that there was no conductor’s station forward of the center doors, like the CSL cars had, but it’s possible there was a conductor behind the motorman (I think this was how Brooklyn set up its PCC cars). Or it could have just been a one-man car.
Anyway, thank you for posting these photos and for posting such large scans of them – fascinating stuff!
CTA Peter Witt 3330 on route 4. These cars were shifted to Cottage Grove from Clark-Wentworth in 1947 after postwar PCCs took over that line.
CTA 6282 unloads passengers in the early 1950s. Note the postwar Pullman PCC at rear.
CSL 6300 on route 4 – Cottage Grove in the early CTA era.
CSL “Sedan” 6299 on route 4 – Cottage Grove.
A unique lineup at the 1934 American Transit Association convention in Cleveland. From left, we have the PCC Model A; CSL 4001; CSL 7001, and the PCC Model B. (Krambles-Peterson Archive)
The PCC Model B at Navy Pier. (Chicago Architectural Photographing Co.)
The PCC Model B being demonstrated at Navy Pier. (CSL Photo)
The PCC Model B interior. (Chicago Architectural Photographing Co.)
CSL 7001 under construction at the Brill plant in 1934.
CSL 7001 under construction at the Brill plant in 1934.
CSL 7001 on route 36 Broadway-State in 1934.
CSL 7001 at State and Van Buren in 1934.
CSL 7001 at State and Chicago, in World’s Fair service, at 9 am on August 29, 1934. (George Krambles Photo)
CSL 4001 at South Shops on October 23, 1938. (George Krambles Photo)
CSL 4001, signed for route 4 Cottage Grove, at South Shops on October 23, 1938. (M. D. McCarter Collection)
CSL 4001 in service, probably around 1934.
CSL 4001 on route 22, Clark-Wentworth, probably in the late 1930s.
CSL 4001, sporting a good sized dent, at South Shops. (CSL Photo)
CSL 4001 at Kedzie and Van Buren on May 13, 1946. By this time, the car had been out of service for two years. (Joe L. Diaz Photo)
Capital Transit 1056, a product of the St. Louis Car Co., as it looked in 1935 when new.
Car 7501, the only Baltimore “Brilliner,” in August 1941. Note the so-called “tavern” doors. This car was a sample in anticipation of a larger order that never came. It ran in service from 1939 to 1956. (Jeffrey Winslow Photo)
A modern Baltimore “Peter Witt” streetcar, built by Brill in 1930, alongside a PCC, made in 1936 by St. Louis Car Company.
DC Transit pre-PCC streamlined streetcar at the National Capital Trolley Museum in 1993. Part of a 20-car order in 1935, split between Brill and St Louis Car Company. This is a St. Louis Car Company product. Sadly this car was lost to a carbarn fire at the museum in 2003. (John Smatlak Photo)
1053 interior. (John Smatlak Photo)
1053 interior. (John Smatlak Photo)
Scranton Transit 508, an “Electromobile,” was built by Osgood-Bradley Co in 1929. It was another attempt at a modern standardized streetcar in the pre-PCC era.
Baltimore Peter Witt 6146. Don’s Rail Photos says it was “built by Brill in 1930 and retired in 1955.” Sister car 6119 is at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, while 6144 is at Seashore. These were some of the most modern cars around, prior to the PCCs.
Baltimore Transit Company car 6105, shown here on route 15 – Ostend St., is one of the last modern streetcars built before PCCs took over the market. The sign on front says that September 7 will be the last day for 6 hour local rides. Perhaps that can help date the picture.
Indianapolis Railways 146, shown here on a special run in 1949, was a Brill “Master Unit” but appears very similar to the Baltimore Peter Witts. This car was built in 1933, one of the last streetcars built before the PCC era. Brill tried to sell street railways on standardized cars (hence the name “Master Units”) but as you might expect, no two orders were identical.
Getting the 48,469,227 fair visitors back and forth to the lakefront site was a tremendous undertaking, and the Chicago Surface Lines played an important role. The fair opened on May 27, 1933, and it quickly became apparent that transportation needed improvement.
Two streetcar line extensions, among the last ones in Chicago, were hurriedly undertaken. The Roosevelt Road extension was the more elaborate of the two, since there were more obstacles in its path, namely the Illinois Central train station and tracks. The IC tracks were below grade, since they were built at the original ground level Downtown, which was raised several feet after the 1871 Chicago Fire.*
Chicago’s new Mayor Edward Joseph Kelly (1876-1950) took the controls of the first streetcar over the viaduct on August 1st, and posed for a good many press photos along the way. The two line extensions, from Roosevelt and Cermak, were retained for about 20 years, and continued to serve the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and Soldier Field. They both had turnaround loops, to permit the use of single-ended as well as double-ended cars.
CSL had two modern experimental streetcars built, and used them to shuttle visitors to and from the fair. Of the two, at least part of car 4001 has survived to this day, while 7001 was perhaps more influential on the eventual design of the highly successful PCC cars, starting in 1936. The general configuration of this single-ended car, and its door arrangement, were followed on Chicago’s 683 PCCs.
Today, we present a Chicago Surface Lines brochure touting their service to the World’s Fair and all parts of Chicago. Along with this, we have some additional photos showing the Roosevelt Road extension. You can find some additional pictures of this operation in later days in one of our earlier posts. There is also a photo showing car 7001 on State Street in 1934, in World’s Fair service.
After the CTA converted the Roosevelt Road streetcar line to bus, the extension to the “Museum Loop” operated as a shuttle between August 12, 1951 to April 12, 1953, when it was abandoned, and eventually demolished. There’s a picture of the route 12A shuttle operation on the CERA Members Blog, here. (The same blog also shows the last known picture of car 7001, shortly before it was scrapped in 1959.)
The last route 21 – Cermak streetcar ran on May 30, 1954.
PCCs occasionally did run to the Museum Loop during special events, for example, on April 26, 1951, when General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) made a personal appearance after his dismissal by President Harry S Truman. You can read more about that historic event here.
Northerly Island, the site of A Century of Progress, was built on landfill. After the fair, it was used as Meigs Field, an airport for small planes, from 1948 to 2003.
Now that planning is underway for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to be built in the “Museum Campus” area, various ideas have been floated for improving transit in this area. These proposals include a streetcar line.
So, when it comes to Chicago’s lakefront, what goes around may yet come around- especially if it’s a streetcar.
*This is approximately correct. It would be difficult to determine what “ground” level truly was when the City was first settled, since Chicago was built on a swamp. Ground level was raised 10 feet downtown in the 1860s to permit the easy installation of a sewer system, and there have been numerous additions via landfill, especially east of Michigan Avenue, which was originally the shoreline. You would apparently have to go as far south as Jackson Park before the Lake Michigan shoreline is in its pre-development location.
For more information, go here.
1939-40 New York World’s Fair
It’s worth mentioning that when New York put on their World’s Fair in 1939-40, they built a rapid transit extension of the IND subway system to reach the south end of the site. This operation was called the World’s Fair Railroad, and required payment of a second 5-cent fare. This branch line was constructed at a cost of $1.2m.
This extension ran partly through Jamaica yard, and went 8,400 feet beyond it, for a total length of just under two miles.
The privately owned BMT and IRT subway/elevated systems shared service on what is now the 7 line, and fairgoers could get there via the Willets Point station, which now serves Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. The regular fare was charged, and these trains reached the north end of the site.
After the fair closed, the World’s Fair Railroad spur was dismantled and removed, the only such IND service to suffer this fate. During the course of the fair, New York City took over operation of both the IRT and BMT, unifying the three subway operations under municipal ownership.
No rapid transit extensions were provided for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, which took place on the same location. However, there was a monorail for moving people around within the fair site itself.
A CSL map showing how the Roosevelt Road and Cermak Road streetcar lines were extended to new loops serving A Century of Progress.
The Roosevelt Road extension to the World’s Fair site is under construction in this June 24, 1933 view. The Illinois Central station lies between here and what we now call the “Museum Campus.”
From the looks of things, this picture was also taken on June 24, 1933.
It’s August 1, 1933. The World’s Fair extension along Roosevelt Road is now completed, and Mayor Edward Kelly (posing for pictures) is at the controls of the first service car. Kelly had succeeded Anton Cermak as mayor earlier that year after the latter was assassinated in Miami.
A close-up of the previous scene.
The first service car over the Illinois Central viaduct, with Mayor Kelly at the throttle, in a picture taken at 9:30 am on August 1, 1933.
An artist’s rendering of CSL experimental pre-PCC streetcar 4001, built by Pullman. It entered service in 1934 and was retired in 1944. Its body shell is preserved at the Illinois Railway Museum.
An artist’s rendering of CSL experimental pre-PCC streetcar 7001, built by Brill. It entered service in 1934 and was retired in 1944. It was scrapped in 1959. Note that the car is signed for Clark-Wentworth, the busiest line on the Chicago system. Ironically, while this design resembles the PCC car of 1936, Brill refused to license the patented PCC technology, and as a result, was driven out of the streetcar market within a five years, after building but a few dozen “Brilliners.”
A side view of pre-PCC car 7001, showing how the general arrangement of doors was quite similar to that used on the later Chicago PCCs. (CSL Photo)
CSL 7001, as it appeared on March 18, 1939.
Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly presides over the opening ceremonies for A Century of Progress at Soldier Field, May 27, 1933.