Now here’s something you don’t see every day… the 69th Street station on the Normal Park “L”, in color. This short branch closed in 1954.
For most Chicago-area railfans, January 21, 1963 is a day, to paraphrase Franklin D. Roosevelt, that will “live in infamy,” for that is when the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee, the North Shore Line, breathed its last.
But January 21 is also the date when we started this blog in 2015. This is our seventh anniversary, and I think we have had seven full years of good luck.
In that time, our posts have received 841,000 page views, and over time we have become more and more of a resource for those who are interested in the history of electric traction.
As this is our anniversary post, we pulled out all the stops, and have lots of classic images for you to enjoy. As the 21st is also the 59th anniversary of the North Shore Line abandonment, we have plenty of pictures that pay tribute to that lost interurban.
As we have shared our images with you, you in turn have shared many things with us. We have learned a lot by working together. It has been a great ride here so far, and we can only hope that the next seven years will turn out as well.
Our friend Kenneth Gear now has a Facebook group for the Railroad Record Club. If you enjoy listening to audio recordings of classic railroad trains, whether steam, electric, or diesel, you might consider joining.
Our Next Book
FYI, I recently made a new book proposal to my publisher and it has been accepted. I signed the agreement on the 18th, and with any luck, it will come out later this year.
There is still a lot of hard work to be done, but I will do my best to produce something that is new and different than that which is already out there, and makes a real contribution to our understanding of the past.
One thing working in my favor is there are plenty of great pictures to choose from, and the subject is already legendary.
Here is a summary:
The North Shore Line
As late as 1963, you could take a high-speed streamlined train from Chicago’s Loop elevated, 90 miles north to Milwaukee. This was the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee, commonly known as the North Shore Line.
From humble beginnings in the 1890s, as a streetcar line in Waukegan, Illinois, the North Shore Line grew to become, in the words of historian William D. Middleton, a “super interurban.” It reached its peak in the 1920s, under Samuel Insull, when the railroad won the prestigious Charles A. Coffin medal no less than three times.
Besides connecting Milwaukee and Chicago, the North Shore Line served Racine, Kenosha, Waukegan, Lake Bluff, Winnetka, Wilmette, and Evanston. A new Skokie Valley Route, built by Insull, opened in 1926 and helped establish Skokie, Glenview, Northfield, and Northbrook.
The railroad had a branch line serving Libertyville and Mundelein, city streetcars in Waukegan and Milwaukee, and was a pioneer in offering “piggyback” freight service.
Hobbled by the Depression and forced into bankruptcy, the North Shore Line rebounded during the war years with two fast new trains called “Electroliners.” It was finally done in by the automobile, highways, and a lack of government subsidies—but it left a remarkable legacy.
Our Annual Fundraiser
Since we started this blog in 2015, we have posted over 13,500 images. This is our 284th post.
Each year, around this time, we must renew our WordPress subscription, our domain registration, and pay other bills associated with maintaining this site, so it is time for our Annual Fundraiser.
The Trolley Dodger blog can only be kept going with the help of our devoted readers. Perhaps you count yourself among them.
If you have already contributed in the past, we thank you very much for your help. Meanwhile, our goal for this fundraiser is just $700, which is only a fraction of what it costs us each year. The rest is made up from either the profits from the items we sell, which are not large, or out of our own pocket, which is not very large either.
There are links at the top and bottom of this page, where you can click and make a donation that will help us meet our goal again for this coming year, so we can continue to offer you more classic images in the future, and keep this good thing we have going.
We thank you in advance for your time and consideration. To date, we have raised $350, which is halfway to our goal. We will also have considerable expenses coming up relating to research for our next book.
On May 11, 1958, William C. Hoffman took this picture looking north along Halsted at the (then) Congress Expressway. Service on the Garfield Park “L” would continue until June 22nd, when it was replaced by the new Congress rapid transit line at left. A passerby admires the new, as-yet unopened station entrance. The Met “L” here had been four tracks, but two were removed by the time this picture was taken, as they were in the highway footprint. The expressway opened in late 1955 in this area.
The old and the new are on display in this 1958 view of the Halsted station on the CTA’s Congress median line. In the background, the old Met “L” is still standing, but would soon be demolished.
North Shore Line 458 heads up a southbound freight train, probably in the early-to-mid 1950s. At first, I thought this location was in Skokie, from the sign on the building. But further research shows this picture was taken in Waukegan, between Washington and Cornelia Streets. The building at right was a former North Shore Line merchandise dispatch (they spelled it “despatch”) station, by this time being rented out to a produce dealer. Don’s Rail Photos: “458 was built by the Spokane Portland & Seattle in January 1941 as Oregon Electric Ry. 50. It was purchased by the North Shore in December 1947 and was completed as 458 on January 27, 1948.”
A northbound Electroliner heading away from the photographer in Waukegan, most likely in the early-to-mid 1950s. In the distance, you can see another North Shore car on a side track.
A close-up of the previous image. Zach E. writes: “Regarding the two photos of 458 and the Electroliner at Washington St. in Waukegan. The cars in the background are standard coaches, not MD cars. There was a storage track there often occupied by cars laying over on the east side of the mainline there between Cornelia and Brookside Ave.”
CTA PCC 4057 is heading northbound on Western Avenue near Roscoe in June 1956, passing by the entrance to Riverview Park, shortly before the end of streetcar service on Route 49. (Robert Selle Photo)
The Chicago and Milwaukee Electric was the predecessor of the North Shore Line. Car 133 is at the Kenosha station in this early 1900s view.
The Chicago Aurora and Elgin began using this off-street terminal in Aurora in 1939. This picture was taken from a nearby bridge in 1951.
Look at what we have here– the Turtle Wax Turtle, a local landmark that stood on top of a building at Madison, Ogden, and Ashland from 1956 to 1963. The slide mount dates it to the late 50s, probably 1956-58. And which “L” is this taken from? Well, since it is daylight and it is 9:13, I would say that is AM, and we are looking south from the Lake Street “L” at Ashland. It would have been visible from the Paulina “L”, which had closed in 1951, and from the Garfield Park “L”, but that structure had already been torn down by 1956. I remember seeing this thing any number of times when I was a kid.
The Turtle Wax Turtle.
One of the two Liberty Liners (ex-Electroliners) on the Norristown High-Speed Line, where they ran from 1964 to 1976.
Britton I. Budd (1871-1965) was a talented and able executive who held many responsible positions in the transit industry, including president of the North Shore Line. When Samuel Insull took over the North Shore Line, he tapped Budd to implement a modernization program. And when the line fell into bankruptcy in 1932, Budd became one of the receivers, a position he held until 1937.
The North Shore logo from a 1942 timetable.
This appeared on the cover of a 1921 issue of the North Shore Bulletin, a small magazine given out to riders.
This is part of a number of photos someone took out of the front window of a CTA “L” train in the 1950s, along the Garfield Park line. We have published some of these in previous posts. Not all of them seem to have been taken at the same time. This one appears to be circa 1957, and the location is along the temporary right-of-way in Van Buren Street.
Here, the “L” train the photographer was riding in was descending a ramp towards the ground-level trackage in Van Buren Street. The cross street in the distance is California Avenue. There is a sign on the front of the oncoming train, which I believe indicates which Chicago Aurora and Elgin connecting train riders could catch in Forest Park.
The Garfield Park “L” on Van Buren Street at California Avenue, but this time, circa 1954. The old “L” has already been removed, except for the bridge over a nearby railroad.
A close-up of the previous image, showing construction on the nearby railroad embankment that crosses the highway at 2600 West. The old Met “L” bridge had not yet been dismantled.
On the Illinois Railway Museum main line, North Shore Line cars can operate in something approximating their former lives in revenue service prior to the 1963 abandonment. We see car 251 in February 1991. (Mike Raia Photo)
Lehigh Valley Transit ran freight as well as passenger service between Allentown, PA and Philadelphia. Even after passenger service was cut back to Norristown in 1949, they continued to operate freight via the Philadelphia and Western. Here we see car C16 in 1950, near the end of its days. Interurban service was abandoned the following year. Don’s Rail Photos: “C16 was built by Jewett Car in 1912 as 800. It was rebuilt as C16 in 1935.”
Lehigh Valley Transit car 1002, circa 1950. Don’s Rail Photos: “1002 was built by Cincinnati Car in June 1930, #3050, as C&LE 126. It was sold to LVT as 1002 in 1938 and scrapped in 1952.”
A pair of Lehigh Valley Transit cars meet a Philadelphia Bullet car at the Norristown terminal, circa 1951. LVT ceased running their Liberty Bell Limited cars there in 1949, for a variety of reasons. It reduced their expenses, but it probably also reduced revenues as their riders now had to change trains at Norristown. But the LVT cars were getting worn out and there were problems with the motors on the lightweight high-speed interurban cars LVT had acquired from the Cleveland and Lake Erie in 1938. Towards the end, LVT had to rely more and more on their older cars, such as the 700-series ones seen here. To the left (north), there was a ramp descending to ground level. This terminal has since been replaced by a newer one nearby.
The Chicago and North Western station in Evanston, during steam days in the early 1900s.
We ran another picture of this scene in a previous post, taken from a different view. The occasion was a Chicago streetcar fantrip using car 2802, and the location is at 63rd and Halsted on the Englewood branch of the “L”. There was an off-street area where riders could change for buses to different locations and, in an older era, interurbans as well. I do not know precisely when this picture was taken, but if I had to guess, I would say sometime in the 1940s.
Here is the other picture we previously ran of car 2802:
CSL 2802 on a charter, possibly a July 4, 1949 fantrip held by the Electric Railroaders’ Association on various south side lines. Bill Shapotkin writes: “Believe this pic is in the streetcar terminal next to the 63/Halsted ‘L’ station (where the C&IT cars and later busses of South Suburban Safeway and Suburban transit began their runs). View looks east.” M. E. adds, “Bill Shapotkin is correct. This view faces east along 63rd Place on the south side of the 63rd and Halsted (Englewood) L station, which was east of Halsted. One small nit about Bill’s text: The bus lines were named Suburban Transit System and South Suburban Safeway Lines.” C&IT stands for the Chicago & Interurban Traction Company. Don’s Rail Photos says, “The Chicago & Interurban Traction Company was incorporated in February 1912, taking over all trackage outside Chicago in March 1912 (all trackage in the City of Chicago went to the Chicago City Railway Company). C&IT interurban service continued from the south side Engelwood Elevated Station at 63rd and Halsted (trackage in Chicago was leased along with the shops at 88th and Vincennes) to Kankakee.” Samuel Insull took over the C&IT in 1922 and tried to revive the line, but when the competing Illinois Central elevated much of their line and electrified, the C&IT could not compete and interurban service was abandoned in 1927.
A Wabash Railroad display at the 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair along the lakefront.
The Chicago and Eastern Illinois exhibit at the 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair.
North Shore Line combine 255. Don’s Rail Photos: “255 was built by Jewett in 1917. It had all of the seats removed in the 1920s to provide a full length baggage car which ran in passenger trains. It was used for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to move equipment to Ravinia. On July 2, 1942, the 40 seats were replaced. Then on December 1, 1946, the seats were again removed. In addition to the Symphony, the car was used for sailors’ baggage from Great Lakes.” As there are seats visible, this picture dates to circa 1942-46.
Atlantic City Brilliner 215 at a traffic signal, while on private right-of-way, on October 13, 1955, which must be shortly before streetcar service ended there.
Pittsburgh Railways PCC 1262 is on Wood Street in downtown Pittsburgh on September 19, 1962.
Chicago Transit Authority PCC 4321 is on 77th Street on July 30, 1948.
This is the Ballston Terminal Railroad, which Frank Hicks calls “a fairly unusual little interurban in upstate New York,” in the early 1900s. More info here.
Here, we see Frank Cheney on CA&E car 434 at the Seashore Trolley Museum on October 12, 1963. From their web site: “No. 434 of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin – “The Great Third Rail” – was outshopped by the Cincinnati Car Company in 1927 as one of a group of 15 ordered shortly after Insull acquired control of the railway. Of all steel construction, the car is 55 feet long overall, is powered by four 140 horsepower motors, and has a seating capacity of 52, including 10 in a smoking compartment. Interior appointments include rotating bucket seats, toilet facilities and neatly finished paneling. The car is equipped with trolley poles that were primarily for yard service and limited street running on the CA&E, since the line used third rail current collection not only on the elevated, but on its own cross country surface routes as well. Moved on its own wheels coupled in a freight train from the CA&E shops in Wheaton, Illinois, to Kennebunk in the fall of 1962, No. 434 was trucked to the Museum in the spring of 1963 and was quickly readied for operation, given its good condition.”
North Shore Line car 168 is in North Chicago, being stored after abandonment, on October 19, 1963. It was built by Jewett in 1917. It did not survive.
Some of these interurban cars sure got around after they were retired from their original roads. Here we see North Shore Line car 411 on the Long Island Railroad. Don’s Rail Photos: “411 was built as a trailer observation car by Cincinnati Car in June 1923 #2640. It was out of service in 1932. 411 It was rebuilt as a two motor coach by closing in the open platform and changing the seating on February 25, 1943, and sold to Trolley Museum of New York in 1963. It was sold to Wisconsin Electric Railway & Historical Society in 1973 and sold to Escanaba & Lake Superior in 1989.”
An 0-series Shinkansen “Bullet” train in Tokyo, Japan in June 1968. The North Shore Line’s Electroliners influenced the design of these high-speed trains.
This is the Downey’s station (West Great Lakes) in October 1961.
I assume this may also be at Downeys, in October 1961.
Sailors and others aboard a North Shore Line train in October 1961.
A builder’s photo of Chicago and Milwaukee Electric (later the North Shore Line) car 305. 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.”
North Shore Line streetcar 510. Don’s Rail Photos: “510 and 511 were not really city cars, but were purchased for use on the Mundelein line. They were typical Cincinnati Car lightweights built in 1922. After more of the steel interurbans were received in the next few years, they were replaced by the heavy cars which were thru routed to Chicago. The cars were stored until they were scrapped in 1940.”
North Shore Line wood car 301 at the Highwood Shops in the 1930s. Don’s Rail Photos: “300 thru 302 were built by Jewett in 1909 as mainline coaches. As the steel cars arrived, they were downgraded to local and school tripper service. In 1936 they became sleet cutters. 301 and 302 were retired in 1939 and scrapped in 1940.” (Edward Frank, Jr. Photo)
North Shore Line Birney car 334 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.” (Donald Ross Photo)
North Shore Line electric loco 458 at the Highwood Shops on September 3, 1963, several months after abandonment. None of the NSL locos were saved, due to the high scrap value they had. (Bill Volkmer Photo)
Chicago Aurora & Elgin wood car 137 at the Wheaton Shops on August 6, 1939, during which time it was leased from the North Shore Line. There were several such cars that were purchased by the CA&E in 1946, making them the last passenger cars acquired by the interurban. It was built by the Jewett Car Company in 1907. (La Mar M. Kelley Photo)
Doug Iverson writes:
David, just heard about your latest adventure into the publishing arena. Hope everything goes well. I would be honored and extremely pleased if you could use this photo of my dad heading to board the North Shore in Racine in the 1940s.
My dad’s name was Nathan Norman Iverson. He was born in Forks, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula and traveled to Racine on the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad better known as The Milwaukee Road. As he did most of his traveling during the depression he “rode the rails” trying to cure his wanderlust. In Racine he met my mother and she calmed his wandering spirit. He loved to travel. He always said “Traveling was always more fun than being there.”
I grew up in Racine with The North Shore flying through town in both directions every hour on the half hour.
Thanks for sharing! A remarkable story.
Marty Robinson writes:
Thanks David for your anniversary post. It elicited several memories for me: riding the North Shore Line from Downey into Chicago numerous times while at Great Lakes in 1950/51 at boot camp and electronics school. And a mention of the Railroad Fair, where I worked as a 16-year-old as a conductor on the Deadwood Central.
Glad you enjoyed it, thanks! Marty is front row, center in this 1948 photo from the Chicago Railroad Fair.
Did Not Win
Resources are limited, and we can’t win all the auctions for interesting pictures. Here are some that are still worth another look:
The interior of a Silverliner in 1963.
This is apparently a Chicago area train, but which one? The type of slide mount would indicate a date in the range 1955-58. But the headline visible, on a copy of the Chicago Daily News, refers to the selection of a site for the University of Illinois campus in Chicago. That determination was not made final until 1961. It’s been suggested that this may be the GM&O, but it could also be a Chicago & North Western train known as The 400, which ran between Chicago and Minneapolis. The 400 got its name because the travel time between cities was about 400 minutes. At any rate, it’s an air conditioned car. Mitch Markovitz: “Regarding the parlor car interior. It’s definitely the interior of GM&O parlor “Bloomington,” and not a C&NW parlor. C&NW parlors had parlor chairs from Coach and Car, and the chairs seen in the photo are those from Heywood-Wakefield, in the “Sleepy Hallow model.””
The original Kedzie Avenue station on the Ravenswood “L” (today’s CTA Brown Line) in the early 1970s, not long before it was damaged by fire. We are looking west.
Trolleys to Milwaukee by John Gruber
A copy of this long out-of-print 32-page book is being offered for sale on eBay for $50. One of the fans on the Facebook North Shore Line group lives in Australia and is interested in this book, but international shipping is expensive. So I offered to scan my copy for their benefit. You might enjoy it too.
John E. Gruber (1936-2018) was a notable and very talented photographer, as evidenced in these very striking pictures.
A Guide to the Railroad Record Club E-Book
William A. Steventon recording the sounds of the North Shore Line in April 1956. (Kenneth Gear Collection)
Our good friend Ken Gear has been hard at work on collecting all things related to the late William Steventon’s railroad audio recordings and releases. The result is a new book on disc, A Guide To the Railroad Record Club. This was quite a project and labor of love on Ken’s part!
Kenneth Gear has written and compiled a complete history of William Steventon‘s Railroad Record Club, which issued 42 different LPs of steam, electric, and diesel railroad audio, beginning with its origins in 1953.
This “book on disc” format allows us to present not only a detailed history of the club and an updated account of Kenneth Gear’s purchase of the William Steventon estate, but it also includes audio files, photo scans and movie files. Virtually all the Railroad Record Club archive is gathered in one place!
$10 from the sale of each RRC E-Book will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.
Now Available on Compact Disc:
RRC08D Railroad Record Club #08 Deluxe Edition: Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, Recorded by Elwin Purington The Complete Recording From the Original Master Tapes Price: $15.99
Kenneth Gear‘s doggedness and determination resulted in his tracking down and purchasing the surviving RRC master tapes a few years back, and he has been hard at work having them digitized, at considerable personal expense, so that you and many others can enjoy them with today’s technology. We have already released a few RRC Rarities CDs from Ken’s collection.
When Ken heard the digitized version of RRC LP #08, Canadian National: Canadian Railroading in the Days of Steam, recorded by the late Elwin Purington, he was surprised to find the original tapes were more than twice the length of the 10″ LP. The resulting LP had been considerably edited down to the limited space available, 15 minutes per side.
The scenes were the same, but each was greatly shortened. Now, on compact disc, it is possible to present the full length recordings of this classic LP, which was one of Steventon’s best sellers and an all-around favorite, for the very first time.
Canadian National. Steaming giants pound high iron on mountain trails, rumble over trestles, hit torpedos and whistle for many road crossings. Mountain railroading with heavy power and lingering whistles! Includes locomotives 3566, 4301, 6013, 3560.
Total time – 72:57
$5 from the sale of RRC08D CD will go to Kenneth Gear to repay him for some of his costs in saving this important history.
Chicago’s Lost “L”s Online Presentation
We recently gave an online presentation about our book Chicago’s Lost “L”s for the Chicago Public Library, as part of their One Book, One Chicago series. You can watch it online by following this link.
The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio on July 16, 2021, to discuss Chicago’s Lost “L”s. You can hear that discussion here.
Our Latest Book, Now Available:
Chicago’s Lost “L”s
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.
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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)
Help Support The Trolley Dodger
This is our 284th 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 841,000 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.”
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CTA 7156 heads south on Broadway at Lawrence in Uptown on February 15, 1957, the last day of streetcar service on Broadway. The film Giant, starring James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor, opened in the US on November 24, 1956, and was playing at the Uptown. You can see the Green Mill lounge a bit south of the Uptown. The Riviera Theater would be just out of view to the left here. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 244 of B-146, mistakenly credited to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
Life is full of loose ends, and so is this post. Let’s see if we can tie a few up.
Most of what you see in this post is a tribute to Robert Heinlein and the late Jeffrey L. Wien. I spent a lot of time working on these images, because I wanted to give these gentlemen a 100% effort.
There were several slides that I scanned last year for Jeff, that I had not yet had a chance to work over in Photoshop at the time of his passing on January 6th. These were 35mm color slides he had purchased on eBay, to fill in holes in his collection. In his later years, he took great pleasure in buying images that he had not been able to take himself.
Jeff had told me on a number of occasions that I was free to post anything here from his vast collection. So I am sure he would not mind that I share these with you now, after I made them look better. In fact, I think he would be glad I followed through on this. Perhaps the best tribute I can give my friend is to continue the work of historic preservation, which meant so much to him.
Publication of CERA Bulletin 146, Chicago Streetcar Pictorial: The PCC Car Era, 1936-1958 in 2015 inadvertently created another loose end. Jeff had some duplicate slides he had acquired in 1959, several of which were used in the book. He was certain that these were pictures taken by Charles Tauscher, and this included the photo on the book’s front cover, showing a Clark-Wentworth PCC passing by Wrigley Field.
While we were working on the book, Jeff bought Tauscher’s photo collection, and was disappointed when the originals of these slides did not turn up there (although many other excellent slides did– Tauscher was a great photographer in his own right).
After the book came out, we found out the duplicate slides in question had actually been shot by Bob Heinlein. In 2016, Bob loaned us his original red border Kodachrome slides, so we could set the historical record straight. Now you can see them too, and we can finally give credit where credit is due. It seems an even dozen of these were used in B-146, but the ones that weren’t are every bit as good.
The 24 pictures of Bob’s that are here were all taken between October 1956 and September 1957, and nearly all on the north side of Chicago. By then, the only remaining streetcar lines in the city were Clark-Wentworth and Broadway. Western was replaced by buses a few months before Bob started taking these pictures.
Broadway had been de-coupled from its southerly half (State) in December 1955. Clark and Broadway shared a car barn (Devon) and a portion of their route south of Diversey, so their fates were tied together. By the end of 1957, there were no more north side streetcars, and the last remaining line (Wentworth) only made it until June 21, 1958, when 7213 became the last Chicago streetcar.
In our last post, we featured an extensive article about the Metropolitan West Side Elevated from an 1895 issue of Leslie’s Weekly. After I purchased the magazine, it took 35 days for it to show up. It spent some time, no doubt, buried in a USPS distribution center in December, probably at the bottom of the pile.
Because of the delay, the seller graciously offered to send me an 1894 Leslie’s with another article about the Chicago elevated. He did, but it turns out the article is not about the “L”, but actually details the start of the grade separation movement of steam railroads in the Chicago area, which is another subject I am interested in. You can read it here, from the September 20, 1894 issue of Leslie’s Weekly.
In addition, we have some new recent photo finds of our own. One of these was also a “loose end.” I recently received the negative of CTA streetcar 1743 downtown. I didn’t recall buying this recently. Then, I looked at the postmark on the envelope– June 15, 2020! Turns out I did buy this, and had forgotten all about it. Chances are, the envelope was put into the wrong PO Box by mistake, and whoever owns that box doesn’t regularly check their mail. But all’s well that ends well.
There are a couple of pictures from the collections of John Smatlak. We thank him for sharing these with our readers.
We are grateful for all our contributors. Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!
Our Annual Fundraiser
We thank our readers for making 2020 our most successful yet, with 133,246 page views, surpassing our previous record of 2016, and a 30% increase over the previous year. Each January, we ask our readers to help defray the expenses involved with file storage, web hosting, domain registration and other overhead, the “nuts and bolts” things that make this blog possible. Fortunately, thanks to all of you, we have have received $705 to date, meeting our original goal. Additional donations are always welcome, and will be used to purchase more classic images for this site. If you enjoy what you see here, and would like it to continue, please consider making a donation by clicking on this link, or the one at the top or bottom of this post.
We thank you in advance for your time, consideration, and your generous support.
Robert Heinlein’s Chicago PCCs:
Wouldn’t you just know it? Without even realizing it I am sure, someone walked right into Bob Heinlein’s shot in this September 1957 view of CTA PCC 4390 (which would end up being one of the last cars used in June 1958). What to do, but wait for another car to come along, and take another picture (see Heinlein008).
Although signed for the south portion of Route 36, which was replaced by buses in December 1955, PCC 4406 is actually on Clark and 16th Streets. Since 4406 was used (along with red car 225) on a fantrip on October 21, 1956, my guess is this picture was taken on that day. It was common practice to put incorrect signs up on trips, although on most of the pictures I have seen from that trip, it says “Chartered.” (Robert Heinlein Photo)
In September 1957, CTA 7160 passes by the Rainbo building at left, located in the 4800 block of north Clark Street. A skating rink opened there that year. To the right, you see St. Boniface Catholic Cemetery. We are looking north. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 162 of B-146, where it was incorrectly credited to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7211, still in its original paint scheme, heads south at Clark Street and Irving Park Road in September 1957, near the entrance to Graceland Cemetery. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 164 of B-146, where it was incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7149, signed for Clark and Schreiber (Devon Station). Note that the route number is 22 with a red slash through it. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7222 by Wrigley Field (Clark and Addison) in July 1957. This picture appears twice in CERA B-146, on the cover and on pages 134 and 167, taken from a duplicate slide. On page 167, it is incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. This is the original Red Border Kodachrome. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7164 is northbound on Clark at Addison in July 1957, crossing the Milwaukee Road tracks near Wrigley Field. A version of this photo, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 166 of B-146, incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
In September 1957, CTA PCCs 7220 and 7211 pass each other on Clark Street at Delaware near the Newberry Library and Washington Square Park, also known locally as “Bughouse Square.” A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 181 of B-146, mistakenly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7200 is turning south from Devon onto Broadway in 1957. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7190 heads south on State Street, crossing the Chicago River. Work on the new Chicago Sun-Times building is well underway. It opened in 1958. The following years, Field Enterprises bought the Daily News, and this building became its headquarters as well. It is now the site of the Trump International Hotel and Tower. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7178 heads south on Clark Street near Wrigley Field in September 1957. The Milwaukee Road railroad tracks running by the ballpark were used for freight and connected with the CTA “L” just north of Irving Park Road. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 166 of B-146, where it is incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7190 at Clark and Seminary by Wrigley Field in July 1957. The “coke” advertised here wasn’t Coca-Cola, but coal, used for heating homes and businesses then, but phased out soon afterwards. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 167 of B-146, incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7189 is southbound on Clark Street just south of Irving Park Road in July 1957. The Wunders Cemetery is at right. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 165 of B-146, where it is incorrectly attributed to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7191 passing by Wrigley Field. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7214 heads south on Route 22 – Clark-Wentworth. Since the Cubs were in the middle of a home stand, the date may very well have been September 4, 1957. The Cubbies would lose two of their three next games to the Cincinnati Redlegs (“Reds” was apparently too sensitive a name politically then) on their way to finishing the season with a record of 62 wins, 92 losses, and 2 ties. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7180 is southbound on Clark Street, passing by the coal company that was once located next to Wrigley Field. You get a good view of the Milwaukee Road freight tracks, since abandoned, that headed north of here. This was once part of a line that offered commuter rail service on the north side. The portion north of Wilson Avenue was taken over by the “L” in the early 1900s. Originally known as the Evanston Extension, it was gradually elevated as well. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7151 is southbound at Clark Street and Chicago Avenue, passing by what is now the former Cosmopolitan Bank Building, designed by the firm of Schmidt, Garden & Martin and built in 1920. The northern portion of the building was a 1930 addition, and was redone in 1995, in a style matching the original portion. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7193 is northbound on Clark, just north of Ridge, at around 5961 N. Clark in July 1957. A version of this image, taken from a duplicate slide, was incorrectly credited to Charles L. Tauscher on page 158 of B-146. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7192 at Kinzie and Dearborn in 1957. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
I was curious about this car, shown in the previous photo, so I posted it to a Facebook group devoted to 1955-56 Packards and asked, “Is this a Packard?” Apparently, it is a 1956 Clipper, produced and sold by Packard. For that year and that year only, it was its own separate brand and not branded as a Packard. But I think you would be forgiven for calling it a 1956 Packard Clipper Constellation.
The 1956 Clipper Constellation, made by Packard. From what I have read, there may only be one place, somewhere on the trunk, that identifies this as a Packard. They tried to make it a brand of its own, just for this one year. Packard merged with Studebaker, and the final two years of Packards (1957-58) were rebranded Studebakers. 1956 was the last year that Packard built its own cars.
CTA 7138 at Schreiber and Ravenswood, near Devon Station. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7171 is northbound on Clark Street, passing Wrigley Field. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7162 is southbound on Clark Street at LaSalle Drive in September 1957. A version of this photo, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 177 of B-146, mistakenly credited to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
CTA 7163 is southbound at Clark, Halsted, and Barry in July 1957. A version of this photo, taken from a duplicate slide, appears on page 170 of B-146, mistakenly credited to Charles L. Tauscher. (Robert Heinlein Photo)
From the Wien-Criss Archive:
The North Shore Line’s Libertyville station on the Mundelein branch in January 1963. (Wien-Criss Archive)
NJ Transit car 6 on the Newark City Subway in July 1975. After the PCCs were replaced in 2001, this car went to the Rockhill Trolley Museum. Sister car #4 (ex-Twin Cities Rapid Transit) is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Wien-Criss Archive)
CTA 2554 on a westbound Douglas-Milwaukee B-train between Jefferson Park and Montrose on August 17, 1978. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee 764 heads up a train at North Chicago Junction on January 16, 1960. (William D. Volkmer Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
This is the “before” version of the following slide, the raw scan prior to my working it over in Photoshop.
A North Shore Line employee’s shanty at the Milwaukee Terminal on June 17, 1962. “Cream City” is a nickname for Milwaukee. I believe a fantrip was held on that day, which helps explain the photographer at left. (Wien-Criss Archive)
The North Shore Line’s Woodridge station in August 1962. This was one of several 1920s-era stations designed in “Insull Spanish.” Only two such stations exist today, one of which is Beverly Shores on the South Shore Line. The Woodridge station was demolished after the North Shore Line shut down in 1963. (Wien-Criss Archive)
North Shore Line 714 heads up a northbound train at Loyola on July 13, 1955. Car 714 is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Wien-Criss Archive)
A North Shore Line train on the Shore Line Route is southbound in Winnetka in September 1954. This section was grade-separated in 1940, along with the adjacent Chicago & North Western tracks, following a series of pedestrian accidents. Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, approved Federal aid that paid for part of this work, in a similar fashion to Chicago’s Initial System of Subways. Ickes had lived in the area for many years. The train is moving towards the photographer, and the front is blurred due to the shutter speed that had to be used, in the days when Kodachrome was ISO 10. (Wien-Criss Archive)
One of the two Electroliners crosses the North Shore Channel on October 21, 1950. After the abandonment of the North Shore Line in 1963, this became part of the route of the CTA Skokie Swift, today’s Yellow Line. This is near the border between Skokie and Evanston. (Wien-Criss Archive)
The entrance to the South Shore Line platforms at Randolph Street Station on August 4, 1974. This has since been completely modernized, and the neon sign is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. (Douglas N. Grotjahn Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
Chicago South Shore and South Bend 23 is at the head of a westbound train at Miller, Indiana on October 1, 1990. (Bill McCoy Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
Although this picture was originally identified as Franklin Street, north of the Loop, it’s actually at 8th Street, south of the Loop. The clue is the Big 4 Advertising carriers storefront, which was located at 26 E. 8th Street. Thanks to John Suhayda for pointing this out. The head North Shore Line car is 420, and this photo was taken by Robert F. Collins on June 2, 1960. (Wien-Criss Archive)
North Shore Line 727 and 729 are northbound at Belmont on the CTA north side “L” on May 20, 1962. Don’s Rail Photos: “727 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, #2890. It was modernized in 1939 and sold to Iowa Chapter, National Railway Historical Society in 1963. It became Iowa Terminal RR 102 in 1967 and acquired by Iowa Trolley Museum in 1987. It was restored to some extent as CNS&M 727 and apparently returned to Iowa Terminal RR.” (Wien-Criss Archive) John Nicholson: “Off to the right behind the “L” structure Benty Hobby Supplies was still a going concern. I remember it still being in operation into the early 1980s right around the time I moved into the Lake View neighborhood. Now hobby shops are becoming as scarce as interurbans.”
North Shore Line Silverliners 770, 738, and 767 just north of Wilson Avenue on June 2, 1962. This is probably a “substitute Liner,” meaning they were temporarily taking the place of an Electroliner when one of that pair was being serviced. (Wien-Criss Archive) John Nicholson adds: “I noticed you referred to the three Silverliners pictured just north of Wilson (taken On Saturday, June 2, 1962) as a possible “substitute Electroliner.” The latest ruling from the recently-departed Mr. Horaheck was that “substitute Electroliner” is incorrect. The correct term should be “equipment substituting for a shopped Electroliner.” Since the train did not have No. 415 in the consist, it was probably just a three-car train of Silverliners.”
North Shore Line car 754 gets a bath at the Milwaukee Terminal on May 14, 1961. (Gordon E. Lloyd Photo, Wien-Criss Archive)
North Shore Line car 758 is at the rear of a northbound train at Dempster Street in Skokie in August 1962. This is now where the CTA Yellow Line ends, and the historic station building has been moved a short distance away, but has been restored. (Wien-Criss Archive)
This Seabord Coast Line streamlined diesel train #4900 was built in 1936 by St. Louis Car Company, and was an obvious influence on the design of the North Shore Line Electroliners, built five years later, The 4900 was scrapped in 1971 after Amtrak took over intercity passenger rail service. It is shown here in August 1969 and was originally Seaboard Air Line 2028. Like the Electroliners, it was one of a pair. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Pennsylvania Railroad steam train 612 at the Parkway overpass, Sea Girt, NJ, October 20, 1957. #612 was a K-4S (4-6-2) “Pacific” built in Juniata during 1917 and retired in April 1958. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Atlantic City Brilliner 205 on December 28, 1955. From http://www.nycsubway.org: “The third electrified service in Atlantic City lasted longer than the others and it was a streetcar line that made its way from a place called The Inlet at the north end of Atlantic City and operated largely along the city’s major thoroughfare, Atlantic Avenue, southward and through the communities of Ventnor, Margate and Longport. Owned and operated by the Atlantic City Transportation Company, this service was distinctive, during its final decade-and-a-half, in that its basic fleet of cars consisted in twenty-five streamlined Brilliners, the Philadelphia-based Brill Company’s competitive answer to the PCC car. Other properties purchased small fleets of similar Brilliners, but only in Atlantic City did this unique car serve as the basic rolling stock of a transit system. Until the very end of streetcar service in December of 1955, the Brilliners were supplemented by a small number of conventional Hog Island cars.” So, this picture was taken just off the Boardwalk at The Inlet, near Captain Starn’s Restaurant and Yacht Bar, one of the most famous seafood eateries in America in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. It opened in 1940 and closed in 1979. This was part of a complex offering sailboat rides, speedboats, a fish market, and sea lions. It was featured in the 1972 film The King of Marvin Gardens. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Here is a video, with some shots of the Atlantic City Brilliners (built 1938-39), with their distinctive “tavern” doors (starts at about 9:38):
Baltimore Transit Company Brilliner 7501 on the Eastern Avenue route. It was built on December 19, 1938. Jeff was actually in Baltimore on the last day of streetcar service on November 3, 1963. Light rail transit returned to the Baltimore area in 1992. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Philadelphia Transportation Company Brilliner 2023 is north of Olney Avenue in May 1953, on a fantrip. Don’s Rail Photos: “2023 was built by Brill Car Co in April 1939, #23763-006. It was scrapped in August 1956.” Brill had been part of the group that developed the PCC car, but refused to pay patent royalties to other companies and dropped out, preferring to go their own way. It was a fatal mistake. By the time Brill introduced their PCC-lookalike, the Brilliner, in 1938, St. Louis Car Company had the PCC market sewed up, and Brill’s was viewed as an inferior product in some ways. Hence, few were sold– one to Philadelphia, one to Baltimore, 24 to Atlantic City, and 10 to Red Arrow. Brill made its last streetcar in 1941. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Philadelphia Transportation Company 6213 was known as a Nearside Peter Witt car. Here is an explanation from http://www.ectma.org/nearside.html : “The 1500 Nearside Cars represented the largest single group of cars in Philadelphia until 1948. They were aquired in five orders between 1911 and 1913 and were numbered 6000 – 7499. As originally built they had only a single double door in the front and a conductor’s booth immediately behind the motorman. A small rear door existed for emergency use only. Previous practice with double end cars was for the car to stop at the far side of intersections so passengers could board the rear platform where the conductor was stationed. The name “Nearside” derives from the fact that these new single end cars stopped for passengers at the near side of each intersection. The double door was arranged with the front leaves opening in for incoming passengers and the rear leaves opening out for exiting passengers. Between 1919 and 1921 to solve the “muzzle loading” problem, 1160 of the 1500 cars were equipped with center doors and the “Peter Witt” fare collection system with the conductor stationed in the middle of the car.” 6213 is on Route 15 – Girard Avenue, which still has a streetcar line, which is currently on hiatus while its small fleet of PCC II cars are being rebuilt. This is from a “half frame” slide. Half frame had a brief fad in the 1950s as a way to double the number of pictures on a roll, but it also had half the film area of 35mm, and therefore wasn’t as sharp. The slide mount gives the location as “Richmond Street near the Ship Yards.” This would be on the eastern portion of the line. This type of streetcar was retired here in 1957. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Atlantic City Brilliner 218. The movie poster advertises Welcome Stranger, a film starring Bing Crosby, John Garfield, and Barry Fitzgerald, released in June 1947, which may help date this photo. (Wien-Criss Archive)
Philadelphia Transportation Company Brilliner 2023 is on a charter trip at Chelten and Yorr Roads. There is a notation on this half-frame slide of “Route 52.” The Brilliner was scrapped in August 1956, so this must be before then. (Wien-Criss Archive)
This is a real photo postcard I recently bought. Chicago Surface Lines 6031 was built by Brill in July 1914. The State line was originally numbered 34 by CSL, for internal accounting purposes. When merged with Broadway in 1937, it became Route 36 – Broadway-State. Dewey, I think, was later renamed Schubert Avenue, and is a short street located at 2720 North. So Clark and Dewey would be just south of Diversey. I got rid of some of the scratches via Photoshop.
A three car train of northbound CTA woods on the Evanston Express in August 1957, just a few short months before the last of the woods was retired from regular service. Since the train is using third rail, and there are four tracks, this is somewhere south of Evanston.
I can read the sign on the right (Evanston Wilmette via L) but I wonder what the sign in the middle says?
The CTA Linden Avenue Yard in Wilmette in July 1957. We see 5000s, 6000s, and wood cars present. To the left is where the North Shore Line’s Shore Line Route continued north until the 1955 abandonment.
This photo of a pair of Philadelphia streetcars has to be from the 1940s, since Birney car #1 is present, along with 8471. The occasion was a fantrip. From the original red border Kodachrome. (Charles R. Houser, Sr. Photo)
Chicago & West Towns Railways streetcar 160 on Hillgrove Avenue at Brainard Avenue in the 1940s. This was the end of the long LaGrange line, which also served the Brookfield Zoo and had some private right-of-way.
NSL 725 at the Mundelein Terminal, which resembled the Dempster Street station in Skokie. Don’s Rail Photos: “725 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1926, (order) #2890. It was modernized in 1939.”
NSL 710 at Libertyville on the Mundelein branch. Don’s Rail Photos: “710 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in 1924, (order) #2725. It was purchased by American Museum of Electricity in 1963 and resold to Connecticut Trolley Museum in 1972.”
A North Shore Line Electroliner… at North Chicago Junction?
CTA Lake Street car 1743 is turning north at Randolph and Franklin on April 18, 1953.
A sign on the “L” station at Randolph and Wells, from the previous photo.
Red Arrow (Philadelphia & West Chester Traction) car 78 in Media on December 2, 1935. This car was built circa 1931-32 by Brill and is known as a “Master Unit.” It is now at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA.
Chicago Rapid Transit “Baldy” 4000’s SB at Armitage about to plunge into the subway. No date, but guessing mid-1940’s based on the presence of the tower that was built here when the subway opened (you can see the tower roof at left above the platform canopy). (John Smatlak Collection)
A two-car train of CTA woods makes a fantrip stop in the 1950s at the ground-level Buena Yard, which was an interchange point for freight between the “L” and the Milwaukee Road up until 1973. Under the “L”, you can see remnants of the former Buena station, which closed in 1949. In the distance, there is a ramp leading up to the “L”. This site is now the location of Challenger Park. (John Smatlak Collection)
I recently bought this real photo postcard, circa 1910. This is how it looked before restoration. I think the developer was not properly fixed when this was made 110 years ago, so the image has faded and may continue to do so in the future. This is the Metropolitan West Side Elevated crossing the Chicago River, not the Northwestern “L”. But perhaps the “N. W.” refers to Met trains that went to Humboldt Park and Logan Square.
The same image after restoration in Photoshop.
A close-up shows the train was probably stopped when this picture was taken.
I recently purchased a CRT map (current as of July 7, 1925), and this useful bit of history, facts, and figures was on the back.
I spent some time cleaning up this map in Photoshop today. I think it’s interesting and a bit unusual, in that is also shows the North Shore Line stops on 63rd Street (service was eventually cut back to Roosevelt Road). When my new book Chicago’s Lost “L”s comes out, I think I will include a facsimile of this map, and the historical information on the backside, with every copy purchased directly from me.
Someone on Facebook recently asked when the CTA added the “Metropolitan Transit” banner to its logo. The answer, courtesy of the CTA Transit News, is May 1958.