Old and Improved

The view of the Lake Street "L", looking northwest at Paulina on October 20, 1953. The station that is partly visible was called Lake Street Transfer, and had not been used since 1951. Meanwhile, there is new steel added to the "L" structure here to create a new connection with the old Met "L". This was used by Douglas Park trains from 1954-58, and Pink Line trains today. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view of the Lake Street “L”, looking northwest at Paulina on October 20, 1953.
The station that is partly visible was called Lake Street Transfer, and had not been used since 1951. Meanwhile, there is new steel added to the “L” structure here to create a new connection with the old Met “L”.
This was used by Douglas Park trains from 1954-58, and Pink Line trains today. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

Life is full of things that are touted as new and improved, but today we present some things that are both old and improved– images made better through use of today’s improved technology.

Some railfans remain wedded to film technology and are suspicious of digital. Often, they say that a film image is permanent, while a digital image is not– that is represents something intangible, while a 35mm slide is something you can hold in your hand.

While it would be wonderful if film images were permanent, especially color images, after scanning tens of thousands of them, I can assure you that such is not the case. Nearly all vintage color slides show some evidence of fading over time, even Kodachrome slides. In addition, they can be scratched, become dirty, lost, or damaged.

Digital has other important advantages– you can see the picture right away, so there is a much shorter learning curve, and once you have the camera, there is no need to buy film, which can be expensive.

Earlier this year I became the custodian of my late friend Jeff Wien‘s image collection, which included those taken by the late William C. Hoffman. Some of the Hoffman slides have been circulating for many years in the form of duplicates, many of which are now 25 years old themselves.

A digital image will look the same 100 years from now as it does today. It won’t get scratched, fingerprinted, or fade over time. It can be copied numerous times, and each copy will be an exact replica of the original, perfect in every detail. On the other hand, when a slide is copied by conventional means, there is always a loss of quality with each succeeding generation.

When taken by a high quality digital camera, in general your results will also be better than with a film camera today. Chances are it will be sharper and have better color.

It will take a long time to digitize the original Hoffman slides and others now in my collection. But I have worked on some. Each of the original slides I have scanned has improved sharpness over the duplicates, but in one or two instances, I have been unable to improve the color, because the original has continued to fade or color shift in the 25 years or more since the duplicates were made. This was most evident in early Ektachrome slides from the late 1950s to early 60s, which are known for having unstable dyes.

Many of these have color shifted to red. What actually has happened is the dyes that are not red have faded badly.

This was a problem that Kodak worked quickly to solve more than 55 years ago, and should not make you concerned about the color films available today.

One of my goals is to share definitive versions of the Hoffman slides, that I hope will stand the test of time, preserving their important historical information for future generations to come.

We also have many other recent photo finds to share today, and others from the collections of William Shapotkin.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

Recent Finds

The Chicago Surface Lines put the first of 83 prewar PCCs into service in November 1936, and all ended service in June 1956 on Route 49 - Western. This picture, showing 4004 loaded onto a flat car, with the trucks and pole removed, was probably taken in either late 1956 or early 1957, when the car was taken from South Shops to a local scrapyard.

The Chicago Surface Lines put the first of 83 prewar PCCs into service in November 1936, and all ended service in June 1956 on Route 49 – Western. This picture, showing 4004 loaded onto a flat car, with the trucks and pole removed, was probably taken in either late 1956 or early 1957, when the car was taken from South Shops to a local scrapyard.

We received no information with this medium format negative, but it shows Washington, D.C. streetcar 1557 and one other near the Capitol Building in the early 1950s. The last DC streetcar (of its original era) ran in 1962, but a new line has since started.

We received no information with this medium format negative, but it shows Washington, D.C. streetcar 1557 and one other near the Capitol Building in the early 1950s. The last DC streetcar (of its original era) ran in 1962, but a new line has since started.

A close-up of 1557, showing it was signed for the Cabin John line.

A close-up of 1557, showing it was signed for the Cabin John line.

One of the two North Shore Line Electroliners on its February 8, 1941 inaugural trip. This image is taken from the original negative. The location is Harmswoods.

One of the two North Shore Line Electroliners on its February 8, 1941 inaugural trip. This image is taken from the original negative. The location is Harmswoods.

NSL freight loco 459 at work.

NSL freight loco 459 at work.

An Electroliner at the Milwaukee Terminal, possibly circa 1942-46.

An Electroliner at the Milwaukee Terminal, possibly circa 1942-46.

The view looking east along the Metropolitan "L" at Marshfield on June 6, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The view looking east along the Metropolitan “L” at Marshfield on June 6, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

The "L" and bridge on this portion of the Jackson Park branch has since been cut back to Cottage Grove. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

North Shore Line car 251 crosses the CTA bridge over the Illinois Central tracks on May 15, 1960 on a fantrip. North Shore Line cars had traveled here as late as 1938 before they terminated at Roosevelt Road instead.
The old Tower Theater is visible at left.
The “L” and bridge on this portion of the Jackson Park branch has since been cut back to Cottage Grove. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On May 15, 1960, a northbound CTA Jackson Park train is at 61st Street, while North Shore Line car 251, at left, is on a fantrip, running to places where NSL cars had not been since 1938. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

On May 15, 1960, a northbound CTA Jackson Park train is at 61st Street, while North Shore Line car 251, at left, is on a fantrip, running to places where NSL cars had not been since 1938. (William C. Hoffman Photo)

Carl Edward Hedstrom Jr. (1918-2009) congratulating Carl Edward Hedstrom Sr. (1889-1978) on his retirement as a South Shore Line engineer in Michigan City, Indiana on October 30, 1960. Senior worked for the railroad from 1921 to 1960, while Junior also worked as a motorman there from 1939 to 1983. (Michigan City News Dispatch Photo)

Carl Edward Hedstrom Jr. (1918-2009) congratulating Carl Edward Hedstrom Sr. (1889-1978) on his retirement as a South Shore Line engineer in Michigan City, Indiana on October 30, 1960. Senior worked for the railroad from 1921 to 1960, while Junior also worked as a motorman there from 1939 to 1983. (Michigan City News Dispatch Photo)

South Shore Line #100 at Van Buren Street, bound for South Bend.

South Shore Line #100 at Van Buren Street, bound for South Bend.

An unidentified South Shore engineer.

An unidentified South Shore engineer.

South Shore Line coach #5 at Randolph Street Station in Chicago, Illinois on April 20, 1949. The motorman is Carl Edward Hedstrom, Sr. (Carl Edward Hedstrom, Jr. Photo)

South Shore Line coach #5 at Randolph Street Station in Chicago, Illinois on April 20, 1949. The motorman is Carl Edward Hedstrom, Sr. (Carl Edward Hedstrom, Jr. Photo)

A South Shore Line float in a Michigan City parade.

A South Shore Line float in a Michigan City parade.

South Shore Line dispatcher Al Kams.

South Shore Line dispatcher Al Kams.

A pair of 4000s are departing from the old Randolph and Wabash "L" station on the Loop. The picture isn't older than 1959, as the Sun-Times/Daily News Building is in the background. It could be dated further, depending on whether those cars still have their trolley poles, which I think they do. Those were only needed until 1962. The 4000s were replaced by 2000s on Lake Street starting in 1964. Until 1969, the Loop was unidirectional, running counterclockwise, so these cars are heading away from us.

A pair of 4000s are departing from the old Randolph and Wabash “L” station on the Loop. The picture isn’t older than 1959, as the Sun-Times/Daily News Building is in the background. It could be dated further, depending on whether those cars still have their trolley poles, which I think they do. Those were only needed until 1962. The 4000s were replaced by 2000s on Lake Street starting in 1964. Until 1969, the Loop was unidirectional, running counterclockwise, so these cars are heading away from us.

CTA red Pullman 144, which is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Not sure whether this photo was taken during a 1950s fantrip, as so many other pictures were. Mike Franklin: "Heading west on Kinzie Street just west of Dearborn. Tribune Building in the distance."

CTA red Pullman 144, which is now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Not sure whether this photo was taken during a 1950s fantrip, as so many other pictures were. Mike Franklin: “Heading west on Kinzie Street just west of Dearborn. Tribune Building in the distance.”

CTA 3146 at Marion Street in Oak Park, running on the (then) ground-level portion of the Lake Street "L". Don's Rail Photos: "3146 was built by St. Louis Car in 1901 as LSERR 146. It was renumbered 3146 in 1913 and became CRT 3146 in 1923."

CTA 3146 at Marion Street in Oak Park, running on the (then) ground-level portion of the Lake Street “L”. Don’s Rail Photos: “3146 was built by St. Louis Car in 1901 as LSERR 146. It was renumbered 3146 in 1913 and became CRT 3146 in 1923.”

This looks like a Met "L" line, but which one? The sign on the train is too fuzzy to read, but I can make out the word "Park," which narrows it down to Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, or Douglas Park, and excludes Logan Square. Daniel Joseph: "My guess (is) this is at Independence Boulevard with the Garfield Park station in the background."

This looks like a Met “L” line, but which one? The sign on the train is too fuzzy to read, but I can make out the word “Park,” which narrows it down to Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, or Douglas Park, and excludes Logan Square. Daniel Joseph: “My guess (is) this is at Independence Boulevard with the Garfield Park station in the background.”

This is the old Ogden Avenue station on the Garfield Park "L", on August 22, 1953. This station closed on September 27 and the structure here was demolished soon thereafter. Garfield trains were temporarily relocated to run on ground level in Van Buren Street.

This is the old Ogden Avenue station on the Garfield Park “L”, on August 22, 1953. This station closed on September 27 and the structure here was demolished soon thereafter. Garfield trains were temporarily relocated to run on ground level in Van Buren Street.

6000s at Chicago Avenue on the Ravenswood.

6000s at Chicago Avenue on the Ravenswood.

From the Collections of William Shapotkin

On March 25, 1962, NSL cars 771, 415, 753, and 251 are on a Central Electric Railfans' Association fantrip at the Isabella station in Evanston, where no North Shore cars had been since the Shore Line Route was abandoned in 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On March 25, 1962, NSL cars 771, 415, 753, and 251 are on a Central Electric Railfans’ Association fantrip at the Isabella station in Evanston, where no North Shore cars had been since the Shore Line Route was abandoned in 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 1266, when it was being used as a salt car.(William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 1266, when it was being used as a salt car.(William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 205 is on Route 6, and is apparently westbound, heading to Van Buren and Kedzie. Streetcars were replaced by buses on this route in 1951, and from 1953-58, Garfield Park "L" trains ran on Van Buren, between Sacramento Boulevard and Aberdeen (William Shapotkin Collection) Daniel Joseph adds: "My uneducated guess this may be at Kedzie and Douglas with a #12-Roosevelt heading to the car barn. Note the divided boulevard with a parkway and West Side Park District street lamps. But I do not see a traffic signal for the part of the boulevard traveling to the left. If that street is not part of the boulevard, this could be Van Buren and Sacramento." Since the car is signed for Route 6 - Van Buren, I am going to go with Van Buren and Sacramento.

CSL 205 is on Route 6, and is apparently westbound, heading to Van Buren and Kedzie. Streetcars were replaced by buses on this route in 1951, and from 1953-58, Garfield Park “L” trains ran on Van Buren, between Sacramento Boulevard and Aberdeen (William Shapotkin Collection) Daniel Joseph adds: “My uneducated guess this may be at Kedzie and Douglas with a #12-Roosevelt heading to the car barn. Note the divided boulevard with a parkway and West Side Park District street lamps. But I do not see a traffic signal for the part of the boulevard traveling to the left. If that street is not part of the boulevard, this could be Van Buren and Sacramento.” Since the car is signed for Route 6 – Van Buren, I am going to go with Van Buren and Sacramento.

CTA red Pullman 249 on the Kedzie route. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA red Pullman 249 on the Kedzie route.
(William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 3245 is signed for Pershing Road (39th Street). (William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 3245 is signed for Pershing Road (39th Street). (William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 1682 is at Lake and Austin, west end of Route 16, with a West Towns streetcar across the border in suburban Oak Park. The Park Theater, at right, closed around 1952. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 1682 is at Lake and Austin, west end of Route 16, with a West Towns streetcar across the border in suburban Oak Park. The Park Theater, at right, closed around 1952. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 2821, signed to go to 115th and Halsted. (William Shapotkin Collection)

CSL 2821, signed to go to 115th and Halsted.
(William Shapotkin Collection)

The Route 22 streetcar means this is Clark Street, and I believe that's the old Astor Theater at right, so this is Clark and Madison looking south. The film Murder in the Fleet was released in 1935, but from the looks of the autos, this is a few years later, so most likely about 1938. (William Shapotkin Collection)

The Route 22 streetcar means this is Clark Street, and I believe that’s the old Astor Theater at right, so this is Clark and Madison looking south. The film Murder in the Fleet was released in 1935, but from the looks of the autos, this is a few years later, so most likely about 1938. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A nice colorized postcard view of the Met "L" twin bridges over the Chicago River. (William Shapotkin Collection)

A nice colorized postcard view of the Met “L” twin bridges over the Chicago River. (William Shapotkin Collection)

Oddly enough, the Chicago Transit Authority used a CSL bus sign when it extended service to Skokie via Route 97 in 1948. This was CTA's first suburban bus route, and replaced the Niles Center branch of the "L". This picture was taken on June 4, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Oddly enough, the Chicago Transit Authority used a CSL bus sign when it extended service to Skokie via Route 97 in 1948. This was CTA’s first suburban bus route, and replaced the Niles Center branch of the “L”. This picture was taken on June 4, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The view looking north along Michigan Avenue at Madison Street on December 12, 1949, shows no less than four Chicago Motor Coach buses, including a double-decker. The CTA purchased the CMC assets on October 1, 1952. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The view looking north along Michigan Avenue at Madison Street on December 12, 1949, shows no less than four Chicago Motor Coach buses, including a double-decker. The CTA purchased the CMC assets on October 1, 1952. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Washington and Wells, looking east, on June 8, 1950. Milwaukee Avenue buses share the street with a Chicago Motor Coach double-decker. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Washington and Wells, looking east, on June 8, 1950. Milwaukee Avenue buses share the street with a Chicago Motor Coach double-decker. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Washington and Clark on June 8, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Washington and Clark on June 8, 1950. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On May 18, 1954, a Route 8 - Halsted streetcar shares wire with a Chicago Avenue trolley bus by the Montgomery Wards complex. We are looking west. The Halsted car is on diversion trackage. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On May 18, 1954, a Route 8 – Halsted streetcar shares wire with a Chicago Avenue trolley bus by the Montgomery Wards complex. We are looking west. The Halsted car is on diversion trackage. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The view looking north along Larrabee Street at Chicago Avenue, by the Montgomery Wards complex. The tower is for switching Milwaukee Road freight trains. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The view looking north along Larrabee Street at Chicago Avenue, by the Montgomery Wards complex. The tower is for switching Milwaukee Road freight trains. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On May 16, 1954, red Pullmans 473 and 479 were used on a fantrip, two weeks before red cars were retired from service and replaced with buses on several routes. Streetcars were able to use trackage here on Irving Park Road in emergencies, since Route 80 had already been converted to use trolley buses.(William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On May 16, 1954, red Pullmans 473 and 479 were used on a fantrip, two weeks before red cars were retired from service and replaced with buses on several routes. Streetcars were able to use trackage here on Irving Park Road in emergencies, since Route 80 had already been converted to use trolley buses.(William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On July 3, 1950, a CTA trolley bus operates on the 51-55 Route on 51st Street near the South Side "L". (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On July 3, 1950, a CTA trolley bus operates on the 51-55 Route on 51st Street near the South Side “L”. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 234 is on Route 51-55 at 51st and Campbell on June 12, 1950, while streetcar tracks here are actually being removed. In most places they were simply paved over. The CTA later renumbered all their trolley buses, with the addition of a "9" before their existing digits. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA trolley bus 234 is on Route 51-55 at 51st and Campbell on June 12, 1950, while streetcar tracks here are actually being removed. In most places they were simply paved over. The CTA later renumbered all their trolley buses, with the addition of a “9” before their existing digits. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The view looking north from the old Loop "L" station at State and Van Buren on July 25, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The view looking north from the old Loop “L” station at State and Van Buren on July 25, 1954. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7240 is on State Street at Van Buren, heading south on Route 36. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7240 is on State Street at Van Buren, heading south on Route 36. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7162 turns from south State Street to westbound Polk on April 19, 1956, on the very last piece of new streetcar track built in Chicago. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7162 turns from south State Street to westbound Polk on April 19, 1956, on the very last piece of new streetcar track built in Chicago. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Polk and Dearborn on April 19, 1956. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Polk and Dearborn on April 19, 1956. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Looking north along Dearborn Street on November 26, 1954, after both Clark and Dearborn were converted to one-way streets. The Monadnock Building is at left. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Looking north along Dearborn Street on November 26, 1954, after both Clark and Dearborn were converted to one-way streets. The Monadnock Building is at left. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The off-street loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett on July 1, 1951, used by Route 63 streetcars and the bus that went west of there to Argo-Summit. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

The off-street loop at 63rd Place and Narragansett on July 1, 1951, used by Route 63 streetcars and the bus that went west of there to Argo-Summit. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On May 16, 1954, CTA red Pullman 579 is at the Western and 79th turnaround loop on a CERA fantrip. During this period, streetcars were used on Western during weekdays only, so the fantrip cars did not impede regular traffic. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On May 16, 1954, CTA red Pullman 579 is at the Western and 79th turnaround loop on a CERA fantrip. During this period, streetcars were used on Western during weekdays only, so the fantrip cars did not impede regular traffic. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7235 at Western and 41st on August 14, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

CTA PCC 7235 at Western and 41st on August 14, 1955. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Retired CSL bus BW-18 and trolley bus 9186, on the scrap line at South Shops on June 15, 1958. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Retired CSL bus BW-18 and trolley bus 9186, on the scrap line at South Shops on June 15, 1958. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On April 10, 1955, we see various vehicles awaiting scrap at South Shops, including a streetcar trailer in the 8000-series, trolley buses 9114, 9071, and sleet cutter bus BW-108. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On April 10, 1955, we see various vehicles awaiting scrap at South Shops, including a streetcar trailer in the 8000-series, trolley buses 9114, 9071, and sleet cutter bus BW-108. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On October 31, 1954, we see some older trolley buses, including 9114, ready for scrapping at South Shops, along with some red Pullman streetcars. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

On October 31, 1954, we see some older trolley buses, including 9114, ready for scrapping at South Shops, along with some red Pullman streetcars. (William C. Hoffman Photo, William Shapotkin Collection)

Kenosha Trip

I recently visited Kenosha, Wisconsin, rode the two-mile trolley there, and sought out the former North Shore Line station. After the interurban was abandoned in 1963, the building became the Spaghetti Station for some years, and is now a school. Additions have been added to the north and west sides. Trains did not run in the side street here, but behind the part of the building that is visible now.

A Sign of the Times

This sign from the Poplar Avenue station in Elmhurst on the Chicago Aurora & Elgin, recently sold on eBay for $1424. Yes, that is a lot of money, but it is also an expression of its historical importance. Note the expert brush work, done by hand. Hopefully the sign will eventually make its way to a museum for the benefit of all.

Did Not Win

Resources are always limited, and for every image we are the successful bidders on, there are others that slip through our fingers. Here are a few that fell into the latter category.

I am not sure just where this picture was taken, showing a westbound four-car train of CA&E woods, headed up by 317. The C&NW is at left. Guesses have so far included Glen Ellyn, Lombard, and Wheaton.

I am not sure just where this picture was taken, showing a westbound four-car train of CA&E woods, headed up by 317. The C&NW is at left. Guesses have so far included Glen Ellyn, Lombard, and Wheaton.

Two Electroliners meet in Waukegan by William D. Volkmer, 1/16/60.

Two Electroliners meet in Waukegan by William D. Volkmer, 1/16/60.

Dempster Street, Skokie 1/16/60, photographer unknown (probably also taken by William D. Volkmer, it just wasn't marked as such).

Dempster Street, Skokie 1/16/60, photographer unknown (probably also taken by William D. Volkmer, it just wasn’t marked as such).

A three-car train in Lake Bluff by William D. Volkmer, 10/8/60.

A three-car train in Lake Bluff by William D. Volkmer, 10/8/60.

NSL 420 in Mundelein by Robert E. Bruneau, 8/20/61. Don's Rail Photos: "420 was was built by Pullman in 1928 as an observation. It was out of service by 1932. On July 21, 1943, it reentered service as a motorized coach. It was sold to Seashore Trolley Museum in 1963."

NSL 420 in Mundelein by Robert E. Bruneau, 8/20/61. Don’s Rail Photos: “420 was was built by Pullman in 1928 as an observation. It was out of service by 1932. On July 21, 1943, it reentered service as a motorized coach. It was sold to Seashore Trolley Museum in 1963.”

This postcard (with a 1910 postmark) shows that the use of "L" for elevated railway was not confined exclusively to Chicago.

This postcard (with a 1910 postmark) shows that the use of “L” for elevated railway was not confined exclusively to Chicago.

A train of CTA 6000s at the old Stony Island terminal on the Jackson Park branch.

A train of CTA 6000s at the old Stony Island terminal on the Jackson Park branch.

The Trolley Dodger On the Air

I recently appeared on the Dave Plier Show on WGN radio, 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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NEW DVD:

A Tribute to the North Shore Line

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the demise of the fabled North Shore Line interurban in January 2013, Jeffrey L. Wien and Bradley Criss made a very thorough and professional video presentation, covering the entire route between Chicago and Milwaukee and then some. Sadly, both men are gone now, but their work remains, making this video a tribute to them, as much as it is a tribute to the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee.

Jeff drew on his own vast collections of movie films, both his own and others such as the late William C. Hoffman, wrote and gave the narration. Bradley acted as video editor, and added authentic sound effects from archival recordings of the North Shore Line.

It was always Jeff’s intention to make this video available to the public, but unfortunately, this did not happen in his lifetime. Now, as the caretakers of Jeff’s railfan legacy, we are proud to offer this excellent two-hour program to you for the first time. The result is a fitting tribute to what Jeff called his “Perpetual Adoration,” which was the name of a stop on the interurban.

Jeff was a wholehearted supporter of our activities, and the proceeds from the sale of this disc will help defray some of the expenses of keeping the Trolley Dodger web site going.

Total time – 121:22

# of Discs – 1
Price: $19.99 (Includes shipping within the United States)

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Thankful

This is a beautiful shot, showing a six-car CTA train of 6000s heading northwest on the Logan Square "L" at Damen Avenue on August 21, 1970. The photographer identified the first four cars as 6629-30 and 6657-58. Sometimes the angles work out just right.

This is a beautiful shot, showing a six-car CTA train of 6000s heading northwest on the Logan Square “L” at Damen Avenue on August 21, 1970. The photographer identified the first four cars as 6629-30 and 6657-58. Sometimes the angles work out just right.

It’s the time of year when we all take stock of all the good things in our lives, the things we are thankful for, and share our abundance of good fortune with our loved ones. The Trolley Dodger is no exception to this, and we have a plateful of classic traction photos for you, a feast for the eyes. We are very thankful for our readers, and hope you all have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.

This is our first post in a while, but we have been very busy the whole time. First, I worked 25 straight days as an election judge during the recent presidential contest, 16 days at polling places, and an additional 9 days processing mail ballots.

Second, proofs were ready to go over for our next book, Chicago’s Lost “L”s. This is our third traction book as sole author, and a tremendous amount of work goes into making each one as factual, informative, and entertaining as possible. When I post pictures here, and get something wrong, the error can be corrected later, but once a book is published, it’s done. We strive for 100% accuracy.

Furthermore, in our books we always strive to include pictures that our readers have not seen before. During the course of working on this book, we made numerous photo substitutions. Even after we had chosen what we thought were the right pictures, we ended up swapping out about one-third of these later, for even better ones.

A great deal of time and resources are involved. For example, during the proofing stage, we changed out seven photos. These, combined, cost us nearly $500. Naturally we have drawn largely from our own collections, and from those kindly shared with the permission of our contributors. But even so, we often have to seek our those missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that is a book such as this, and have to compete for those images in the marketplace, along with everyone else.

At any rate, we are very pleased with how Chicago’s Lost “L”s is turning out, and we look forward to seeing it in print sometime next year. Now we are on to the stage where our changes and corrections are incorporated into the layout, and we expect to soon have the final proofs to look over.

Thirdly, since we find there is often much more to talk about than can be shared in these occasional blog posts, we have started a Facebook auxiliary for The Trolley Dodger. This is an add-on, and takes nothing away from what you see here. It’s a private group, meaning the posts are not public and can only be seen by those who join the group. But if Facebook is not your thing, it can be safely ignored.

Some of the discussions we have had on Facebook have actually been beneficial to this post, and to my new book.

For this post, we have lots of recent photo finds, plus some more pictures that escaped our grasp.

Keep those cards and letters coming in, folks!

-David Sadowski

Melvin Bernero

Posted on Facebook:

It is with great sadness that I pass along information about the death of our friend, Melvin Bernero.

Melvin had been a director of Omnibus Society of America for decades, and has played a key role in keeping the organization going as the editor and publisher of the newsletter and the annual calendar… there will not be a funeral. Maybe there will be a memorial service in a few months.

Apparently this was Covid-related. He thought that he had the flu, and had picked something up while waiting in line for early voting. His neighbors brought him coffee, and discovered that he had passed away at home. That is all the information I have.

Mel was an excellent photographer, and posted over 34,000 pictures to Flickr. He leaves a rich and remarkable legacy and will be truly missed.

Recent Finds

North Shore Line combine car 256 in Milwaukee in November 1962. Don's Rail Photos: "256 was built by Jewett in 1917. It seems to be the only one which retained its original configuration." There is a very similar photo on Don Ross's web site attributed to Joe Testagrose, but it doesn't seem quite identical to this one. If not taken by him, it was probably someone standing next to him, which happens more often than you might think.

North Shore Line combine car 256 in Milwaukee in November 1962. Don’s Rail Photos: “256 was built by Jewett in 1917. It seems to be the only one which retained its original configuration.” There is a very similar photo on Don Ross’s web site attributed to Joe Testagrose, but it doesn’t seem quite identical to this one. If not taken by him, it was probably someone standing next to him, which happens more often than you might think.

This is an improved version of an image we previously posted with the following caption: CSL 1786 under the Lake Street "L" on November 23, 1952. Note the Chicago Motor Coach yard at right. CMC's assets had been purchased by CTA a few months earlier, and were gradually being integrated into regular CTA operations. Bill Shapotkin adds, "This pic is actually at Lake/Kenton (not Cicero). The car is E/B. This is the only such photo I have ever seen at this location."

This is an improved version of an image we previously posted with the following caption: CSL 1786 under the Lake Street “L” on November 23, 1952. Note the Chicago Motor Coach yard at right. CMC’s assets had been purchased by CTA a few months earlier, and were gradually being integrated into regular CTA operations. Bill Shapotkin adds, “This pic is actually at Lake/Kenton (not Cicero). The car is E/B. This is the only such photo I have ever seen at this location.”

The former Ridge station on what had been the Niles Center "L" branch, as it appeared in July 1970. The station entrances to both Ridge and Asbury looked nearly identical, but as J. J. Sedelmaier points out, Asbury was being used as a convenience store during this time. This is along the current path (in Evanston) of the CTA Yellow Line, which began life as part of the North Shore Line's Skokie Valley Route in the mid-1920s. Both stations have long since been removed, except for a few traces at track level.

The former Ridge station on what had been the Niles Center “L” branch, as it appeared in July 1970. The station entrances to both Ridge and Asbury looked nearly identical, but as J. J. Sedelmaier points out, Asbury was being used as a convenience store during this time. This is along the current path (in Evanston) of the CTA Yellow Line, which began life as part of the North Shore Line’s Skokie Valley Route in the mid-1920s. Both stations have long since been removed, except for a few traces at track level.

We have featured the work of photographer Richard H. Young before, going back to some of our earliest posts in 2015. Here, on June 2, 1960, we see a four-car North Shore Line train, headed up by car 175, at the Mundelein station. He notes, "Train just arrived and standing on departure track but poles not reversed yet."

We have featured the work of photographer Richard H. Young before, going back to some of our earliest posts in 2015. Here, on June 2, 1960, we see a four-car North Shore Line train, headed up by car 175, at the Mundelein station. He notes, “Train just arrived and standing on departure track but poles not reversed yet.”

North Shore Line Electroliner set 801-802 has just pulled out from the Milwaukee terminal at 6th and Clybourn on October 31, 1948. (Richard H. Young Photo)

North Shore Line Electroliner set 801-802 has just pulled out from the Milwaukee terminal at 6th and Clybourn on October 31, 1948. (Richard H. Young Photo)

Chicago, Aurora & Elgin express motor 7 at the Wheaton shops. I was going to speculate that this might have been after abandonment, but apparently not, as the car was later repainted with stripes. So this could be circa 1950. Don's Rail Photos; "7 was built by Jewett Car in 1906. In 1941 it was rebuilt as a tool car."

Chicago, Aurora & Elgin express motor 7 at the Wheaton shops. I was going to speculate that this might have been after abandonment, but apparently not, as the car was later repainted with stripes. So this could be circa 1950. Don’s Rail Photos; “7 was built by Jewett Car in 1906. In 1941 it was rebuilt as a tool car.”

Illinois Terminal electric loco 1596, a Class "C", at Granite City on September 12, 1955. Note car 101 is next to it, now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Don's Rail Photos: "1596, Class C, was built at Decatur in December 1929. It was sold for scrap to Hyman Michaels on March 25, 1956." (Bob Selle Photo)

Illinois Terminal electric loco 1596, a Class “C”, at Granite City on September 12, 1955. Note car 101 is next to it, now at the Illinois Railway Museum. Don’s Rail Photos: “1596, Class C, was built at Decatur in December 1929. It was sold for scrap to Hyman Michaels on March 25, 1956.” (Bob Selle Photo)

From left to right, at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum on October 25, 1958, we see Illinois Terminal line car 1702, CRT/CTA "L" car 1024, and Milwaukee streetcar 972. This is when the museum was at North Chicago. Don's Rail Photos: "1702 was built by Danville Ry & Light Co in 1903 as 1507, a pull car. It was rebuilt as a line car in 1922 and renumbered 1702 in August 1925. It was purchased by Illinois Electric Ry Museum on October 11, 1958. 1024 was built by Pullman in 1899 as NWERy 24. It was renumbered 1024 in 1913 and became CRT 1024 in 1923. It was rebuilt as 1st S-111 on March 19, 1955, and sold to Illinois Railway Museum as 1024 in 1958. 972 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1927, #1466. It was purchased by IRM in 1958 and was operated frequently." (Bob Selle Photo)

From left to right, at the Illinois Electric Railway Museum on October 25, 1958, we see Illinois Terminal line car 1702, CRT/CTA “L” car 1024, and Milwaukee streetcar 972. This is when the museum was at North Chicago. Don’s Rail Photos: “1702 was built by Danville Ry & Light Co in 1903 as 1507, a pull car. It was rebuilt as a line car in 1922 and renumbered 1702 in August 1925. It was purchased by Illinois Electric Ry Museum on October 11, 1958. 1024 was built by Pullman in 1899 as NWERy 24. It was renumbered 1024 in 1913 and became CRT 1024 in 1923. It was rebuilt as 1st S-111 on March 19, 1955, and sold to Illinois Railway Museum as 1024 in 1958. 972 was built by St Louis Car Co in 1927, #1466. It was purchased by IRM in 1958 and was operated frequently.” (Bob Selle Photo)

Another view at IERM on October 25, 1958. Illinois Terminal line car 1702 is in front of TM 1129, with CRT/CTA gate car 1024 at right. (Bob Selle Photo)

Another view at IERM on October 25, 1958. Illinois Terminal line car 1702 is in front of TM 1129, with CRT/CTA gate car 1024 at right. (Bob Selle Photo)

CTA red Pullman 440 is southbound at Kedzie and Van Buren on July 1, 1953, passing by Kedzie Station. (Bob Selle Photo)

CTA red Pullman 440 is southbound at Kedzie and Van Buren on July 1, 1953, passing by Kedzie Station. (Bob Selle Photo)

This appears to be an Omnibus Society of America trolley bus fantrip, using CTA 9193, on March 2, 1958. I think part of the idea was to use this bus on parts of the system where this type of bus had not previously been in use. I have posted three other pictures from this same trip in the past on my blog. One shows the TB at the back of Kedzie garage, another at Kedzie and the Congress Expressway, and the third at Kedzie and 33rd. This being a fantrip would help explain why the TB is on Homer, a short-turn path for the Armitage route. It was billed as the first-ever trackless fantrip in Chicago. Looks like the photographer got lucky, and there just happened to be a work train overhead on the Logan Square "L". That could be S-337. If so, Don's Rail Photos notes, "S-337 was a trailer built by American Car & Foundry in 1907 as NWERy 273. It was renumbered 1273 in 1913 and because CRT 1273. It was rebuilt as 1812 and rebuilt as S-337. It was scrapped in November 1968." The street in the background is Milwaukee Avenue.

This appears to be an Omnibus Society of America trolley bus fantrip, using CTA 9193, on March 2, 1958. I think part of the idea was to use this bus on parts of the system where this type of bus had not previously been in use. I have posted three other pictures from this same trip in the past on my blog. One shows the TB at the back of Kedzie garage, another at Kedzie and the Congress Expressway, and the third at Kedzie and 33rd. This being a fantrip would help explain why the TB is on Homer, a short-turn path for the Armitage route. It was billed as the first-ever trackless fantrip in Chicago. Looks like the photographer got lucky, and there just happened to be a work train overhead on the Logan Square “L”. That could be S-337. If so, Don’s Rail Photos notes, “S-337 was a trailer built by American Car & Foundry in 1907 as NWERy 273. It was renumbered 1273 in 1913 and because CRT 1273. It was rebuilt as 1812 and rebuilt as S-337. It was scrapped in November 1968.” The street in the background is Milwaukee Avenue.

The same location today. Homer is located a block south of Armitage.

The same location today. Homer is located a block south of Armitage.

CTA gate car 1024 and an unidentified work car are heading south at Isabella in Evanston, on an April 1958 fantrip sponsored by the Illinois Electric Railway Museum. By then, wood cars were no longer being used in regular passenger service. The museum purchased the 1024 and it headed up to North Chicago once this fantrip was over. The lightly-used station at Isabella closed in 1973, and all traces of it were removed shortly after.

CTA gate car 1024 and an unidentified work car are heading south at Isabella in Evanston, on an April 1958 fantrip sponsored by the Illinois Electric Railway Museum. By then, wood cars were no longer being used in regular passenger service. The museum purchased the 1024 and it headed up to North Chicago once this fantrip was over. The lightly-used station at Isabella closed in 1973, and all traces of it were removed shortly after.

This is a view I recall seeing many times growing up. A two-car train of CTA 2000s prepares to depart the Lake Street "L" terminal at Harlem Avenue on November 11, 1966. We are looking mainly to the east. The street at right is South Boulevard in Oak Park. These "L" cars were but two years old at this point, having replaced 4000s.

This is a view I recall seeing many times growing up. A two-car train of CTA 2000s prepares to depart the Lake Street “L” terminal at Harlem Avenue on November 11, 1966. We are looking mainly to the east. The street at right is South Boulevard in Oak Park. These “L” cars were but two years old at this point, having replaced 4000s.

CTA work car S-200 at Homan Avenue (Lake Street "L") in March 1962. Don's Rail Photos: "S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1923."

CTA work car S-200 at Homan Avenue (Lake Street “L”) in March 1962. Don’s Rail Photos: “S-200 was built by Barney & Smith in 1901 at M-WSER 783. It was renumbered in 1913 as 2783. In 1916 it was rebuilt as a work motor and numbered S-200. It became CRT S-200 in 1923.”

A rare view looking north along the Wilson Avenue Lower Yard in August 1956. Perhaps the final use for these tracks, which were apparently removed in the late 1950s, was to store some old wood cars prior to scrapping. Note some of the cars have broken windows. The back of the McJunkin Building is visible at right. The tracks ended at Wilson Avenue.

A rare view looking north along the Wilson Avenue Lower Yard in August 1956. Perhaps the final use for these tracks, which were apparently removed in the late 1950s, was to store some old wood cars prior to scrapping. Note some of the cars have broken windows. The back of the McJunkin Building is visible at right. The tracks ended at Wilson Avenue.

North Shore Line 253 at the Milwaukee Terminal. Don's Rail Photos: "253 was built by Jewett in 1917. It dropped seating to 28 on June 17, 1924, and was acquired by IRM in 1963."

North Shore Line 253 at the Milwaukee Terminal. Don’s Rail Photos: “253 was built by Jewett in 1917. It dropped seating to 28 on June 17, 1924, and was acquired by IRM in 1963.”

Red Arrow (Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company) Bullet car 207 at 69th Street on June 7, 1964.

Red Arrow (Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company) Bullet car 207 at 69th Street on June 7, 1964.

CTA 2332 and train at Laramie on the Douglas Park "L" (now the CTA Pink Line) on February 8, 1991. (Peter Ehrlich Photo, © 2020 Peter Ehrlich)

CTA 2332 and train at Laramie on the Douglas Park “L” (now the CTA Pink Line) on February 8, 1991. (Peter Ehrlich Photo, © 2020 Peter Ehrlich)

A two-car train of North Shore Line Silverliners at 6th and Walker in Milwaukee (probably in the late 1950s). We are apparently looking south.

A two-car train of North Shore Line Silverliners at 6th and Walker in Milwaukee (probably in the late 1950s). We are apparently looking south.

The same location today, looking south. The direction was partly determined by where the manhole cover is in the older picture. An expressway is now just to the right, truncating the cross street.

The same location today, looking south. The direction was partly determined by where the manhole cover is in the older picture. An expressway is now just to the right, truncating the cross street.

CA&E 433 and 426 at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park, sometime between 1953 and 1957.

CA&E 433 and 426 at DesPlaines Avenue in Forest Park, sometime between 1953 and 1957.

More That Got Away

We can’t buy all the nice pictures, but we can still share some of them with you.

A nice view of CTA Historic cars 4271-4272 by the old Wilson Shops.

A nice view of CTA Historic cars 4271-4272 by the old Wilson Shops.

The Loop "L" in 1900, looking north from Adams and Wabash. In the distance, you can see Madison and Wabash in the distance, and what appears to be a direct entrance into a building. Graham Garfield adds, "Yup—it’s the Louis Sullivan-designed bridge to the Schlesinger and Mayer (later Carson Pirie Scott) department store!"

The Loop “L” in 1900, looking north from Adams and Wabash. In the distance, you can see Madison and Wabash in the distance, and what appears to be a direct entrance into a building. Graham Garfield adds, “Yup—it’s the Louis Sullivan-designed bridge to the Schlesinger and Mayer (later Carson Pirie Scott) department store!”

According to this 1924 ad, the platform canopies on all 207 Chicago "L" stations were being re-roofed with Armco Ingot Iron.

According to this 1924 ad, the platform canopies on all 207 Chicago “L” stations were being re-roofed with Armco Ingot Iron.

A westbound CTA trolley bus passes the Luna theatre, which was located at 4743 W. Belmont, circa 1968.

A westbound CTA trolley bus passes the Luna theatre, which was located at 4743 W. Belmont, circa 1968.

Recently, there were nine rare postcard photos up for auction, all relating to the Metropolitan West Side “L”. We were fortunate to win four of these, which will appear in our upcoming book Chicago’s Lost “L”s. Here are the others we did not win:

This shows where the Met crossed over the Lake Street "L". This picture was taken prior to the construction of the Lake Street Transfer station in 1913, made possible once the four competing "L" companies came under joint operation.

This shows where the Met crossed over the Lake Street “L”. This picture was taken prior to the construction of the Lake Street Transfer station in 1913, made possible once the four competing “L” companies came under joint operation.

A close-up view of part of the last picture, with somewhat better resolution.

A close-up view of part of the last picture, with somewhat better resolution.

It's been suggested this view may look west from the Kedzie station on the Humboldt Park branch.

It’s been suggested this view may look west from the Kedzie station on the Humboldt Park branch.

A two-car CTA train of 6000s at Kedzie on the new Congress median line in 1958.

A two-car CTA train of 6000s at Kedzie on the new Congress median line in 1958.

Along the Douglas Park "L" in July 1963.

Along the Douglas Park “L” in July 1963.

Looking north from Granville in 1966.

Looking north from Granville in 1966.

CSL 5041, signed for Archer Downtown.

CSL 5041, signed for Archer Downtown.

Chicago & North Western EMD E7A #5012B with passenger train at the Oak Park station in September 1965. The view looks west, and a two-car CTA Lake Street "L" train is visible.

Chicago & North Western EMD E7A #5012B with passenger train at the Oak Park station in September 1965. The view looks west, and a two-car CTA Lake Street “L” train is visible.

Andre Kristopans says this is the north end of the Western station on the CTA Logan Square "L", looking north.

Andre Kristopans says this is the north end of the Western station on the CTA Logan Square “L”, looking north.

CTA single-car unit 26 is southbound at Niles Center Road on March 6, 1965.

CTA single-car unit 26 is southbound at Niles Center Road on March 6, 1965.

A CA&E train order from March 13, 1945. Freight locomotive 3003 was directed to run extra to Aurora.

A CA&E train order from March 13, 1945. Freight locomotive 3003 was directed to run extra to Aurora.

CTA trolley bus 9698 is westbound on Roosevelt Road in 1972, just west of the South Side "L".

CTA trolley bus 9698 is westbound on Roosevelt Road in 1972, just west of the South Side “L”.

Capital Transit (aka DC Transit) 1055 in the 1940s. This was a pre-PCC car built in 1935, and represented an important step in the development of PCCs, introduced the following year. Car 1053 was the last survivor of this car type, but was unfortunately later destroyed in a museum fire.

Capital Transit (aka DC Transit) 1055 in the 1940s. This was a pre-PCC car built in 1935, and represented an important step in the development of PCCs, introduced the following year. Car 1053 was the last survivor of this car type, but was unfortunately later destroyed in a museum fire.

The Third Avenue El in 1955.

The Third Avenue El in 1955.

New York's Third Avenue El at 34th Street in 1955, shortly before abandonment.

New York’s Third Avenue El at 34th Street in 1955, shortly before abandonment.

New Steam Audio CD:

FYI, we have digitally remastered another classic steam railroad audio LP to Compact Disc. Many additional titles, including the complete output of the Railroad Record Club, in our Online Store.

misc676-001

STEAM CDs:

RGTS
Rio Grande to Silverton:
A Sound Portrait of Mountain Railroading
Price: $14.99

These are vintage 1960 narrow gauge steam train recordings, in true stereo, and originally released on LP in 1961.  It is long out of print.
Includes:
01. Riding The Train To Silverton
02. Photo Run At Elk Park
03. Arriving At Silverton
04. Train Time At La Jara
05. Illini Special At Cumbres Pass
06. Doubleheader Starting At Monero
07. Eastbound Freight
08. Arriving At Chama
09. Whistles At Coxo
10. Freight With Pusher At Coxo

Gone are the nostalgic sounds of steam echoes and thundering exhausts, but the memory is immortal. May they live on in the locomotive lexicon, as a monument to the era when trains were pulled by STEAM POWER.

As with all of our recordings, this CD comes with the complete, original liner notes.

Total time – 45:49

The Trolley Dodger On the Air
We appeared on WGN radio in Chicago in November 2018, discussing our book Building Chicago’s Subways on the Dave Plier Show. You can hear our 19-minute conversation here.
Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938-- Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway. Chicago, Illinois, December 17, 1938– Secretary Harold Ickes, left, and Mayor Edward J. Kelly turn the first spadeful of earth to start the new $40,000,000 subway project. Many thousands gathered to celebrate the starting of work on the subway.
Order Our New Book Building Chicago’s Subways

There were three subway anniversaries in 2018 in Chicago:
60 years since the West Side Subway opened (June 22, 1958)
75 years since the State Street Subway opened (October 17, 1943)
80 years since subway construction started (December 17, 1938)
To commemorate these anniversaries, we have written a new book, Building Chicago’s Subways.

While the elevated Chicago Loop is justly famous as a symbol of the city, the fascinating history of its subways is less well known. The City of Chicago broke ground on what would become the “Initial System of Subways” during the Great Depression and finished 20 years later. This gigantic construction project, a part of the New Deal, would overcome many obstacles while tunneling through Chicago’s soft blue clay, under congested downtown streets, and even beneath the mighty Chicago River. Chicago’s first rapid transit subway opened in 1943 after decades of wrangling over routes, financing, and logistics. It grew to encompass the State Street, Dearborn-Milwaukee, and West Side Subways, with the latter modernizing the old Garfield Park “L” into the median of Chicago’s first expressway. Take a trip underground and see how Chicago’s “I Will” spirit overcame challenges and persevered to help with the successful building of the subways that move millions. Building Chicago’s subways was national news and a matter of considerable civic pride–making it a “Second City” no more!

Bibliographic information:
Title Building Chicago’s Subways
Images of America
Author David Sadowski
Edition illustrated
Publisher Arcadia Publishing (SC), 2018
ISBN 1467129380, 9781467129381
Length 128 pages
Chapter Titles:
01. The River Tunnels
02. The Freight Tunnels
03. Make No Little Plans
04. The State Street Subway
05. The Dearborn-Milwaukee Subway
06. Displaced
07. Death of an Interurban
08. The Last Street Railway
09. Subways and Superhighways
10. Subways Since 1960
Building Chicago’s Subways is in stock and now available for immediate shipment. Order your copy today! All copies purchased through The Trolley Dodger will be signed by the author.
The price of $23.99 includes shipping within the United States.
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Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo) Redone tile at the Monroe and Dearborn CTA Blue Line subway station, showing how an original sign was incorporated into a newer design, May 25, 2018. (David Sadowski Photo)

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Richard Hofer’s Chicago “L” Pictures

It’s July 1969, and the original Tower 18 at Lake and Wells is being demolished to permit a new track connection to be put in on the Loop “L”. This was necessary so the CTA Lake Street “L” could be through-routed with the new Dan Ryan line that opened on September 28 of that year. The new tower is at left and has itself since been replaced. Prior to this, trains ran counter-clockwise in the same direction on both sets of Loop tracks. Henceforth, they became bi-directional. This is a Richard Hofer photo, from the David Stanley collection. The view looks north, and that is a southbound Ravenswood (today’s Brown Line) train at left.

I recently traveled to Milwaukee and visited David Stanley, and while I was there, he generously allowed me to scan some of his extensive collection of traction slides. Today we are featuring a small part of that collection, some classic photos of the Chicago “L” system, taken by the late Richard R. Hofer (1941-2010). Many of you may recall him from railfan meetings in years past. These pictures show he was an excellent photographer.

You can read Mr. Hofer’s obituary here, and you will note he was a proud Navy veteran. There are also some pictures of him on his Find-A-Grave page.

Scanning a photo, negative, or slide is just the starting point in obtaining the best possible version of that image. Each of these images represents my interpretation of the original source material, which often exhibits a lot of fading or color shift. For many of these images, we are also posting the uncorrected versions, just to show the substantial amount of work that goes into “making things look right.”

In addition, we have some recent photo finds of our own, as well as picture from our Milwaukee sojourn. As always, of you can provide any additional information on what you see in these pictures, do not hesitate to drop us a line.

We also have a new CD collection of rare traction audio from a variety of cities. These were recently digitized from original master tapes from the collections of William A. Steventon, of the Railroad Record Club of Hawkins, WI. You will find more information about that towards the end of our post.

Enjoy!

-David Sadowski

Richard R. Hofer Photos From the David Stanley Collection:

On April 20, 1964, CTA and local officials cut the ribbon at Dempster, commencing service on the new five-mile-long Skokie Swift line. This represented but a small portion of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee interurban that abandoned service on January 21, 1963. The Chicago Transit Authority had to purchase about half of the Swift route anyway, as their connection to Skokie Shops went over NSL tracks. The CTA decided to offer an express service between Dempster and Howard stations, and put in a large parking lot. Service was put into place using existing equipment at the lowest possible cost. The late George Krambles was put in charge of this project, which received some federal funding as a “demonstration” service, at a time when that was still somewhat unusual. But CTA officials at the time indicated that they would still have started the Swift, even without federal funds. I was nine years old at the time, and rode these trains on the very first day. I can assure you they went 65 miles per hour, as I was watching the speedometer. Needless to say, the experiment was quite successful, and service continues on what is now the Yellow Line today, with the addition of one more stop at Oakton.

The Skokie Swift on April 20, 1964.

The Skokie Swift on April 20, 1964.

The Skokie Swift on April 20, 1964. Note the old tower at right near Dempster, which had been used when “L” service ran on the Niles Center branch here from 1925-48. This tower remained standing for many years.

The Swift on opening day, April 20, 1964.

The Swift on opening day, April 20, 1964.

The Swift strikes a dramatic post on May 10, 1965. The slide identifies this as Main Street.

The Swift strikes a dramatic post on May 10, 1965. The slide identifies this as Main Street.

This car sports an experimental pantograph in October 1966.

This car sports an experimental pantograph in October 1966.

A 5000-series articulated train, renumbered into the 51-54 series, at Dempster in October 1966.

A 5000-series articulated train, renumbered into the 51-54 series, at Dempster in October 1966.

In October 1966, we see one of the four articulated 5000s (this was the original 5000-series, circa 1947-48) at Dempster, after having been retrofitted for Swift service, where they continued to run for another 20 years or so.

In October 1966, we see one of the four articulated 5000s (this was the original 5000-series, circa 1947-48) at Dempster, after having been retrofitted for Swift service, where they continued to run for another 20 years or so.

The Skokie Swift in September 1964.

The Skokie Swift in September 1964.

From 1925 until 1948, the Niles Center line provided local "L" service between Howard and Dempster on tracks owned by the North Shore Line. There were several stations along the way, and here we see one of them, as it appeared in September 1964 before it was removed to improve visibility at this grade crossing. I would have to check to see just which station this was, and whether the third track at left was simply a siding, or went to Skokie Shops. Miles Beitler says this is the "Kostner station looking east. The third track on the left was simply a siding, a remnant of North Shore Line freight service."

From 1925 until 1948, the Niles Center line provided local “L” service between Howard and Dempster on tracks owned by the North Shore Line. There were several stations along the way, and here we see one of them, as it appeared in September 1964 before it was removed to improve visibility at this grade crossing. I would have to check to see just which station this was, and whether the third track at left was simply a siding, or went to Skokie Shops. Miles Beitler says this is the “Kostner station looking east. The third track on the left was simply a siding, a remnant of North Shore Line freight service.”

Here is a nice view of the relatively spartan facilities at Dempster terminal on the Skokie Swift in September 1964. Service had been running for five months. This has since been improved and upgraded.

Here is a nice view of the relatively spartan facilities at Dempster terminal on the Skokie Swift in September 1964. Service had been running for five months. This has since been improved and upgraded.

In October 1966, a southbound Howard train has just left Howard terminal, and a single-car Evanston shuttle train has taken its place. After its riders depart, it will change ends on a siding just south of the station, and then head north after picking up passengers at the opposite platform.

In October 1966, a southbound Howard train has just left Howard terminal, and a single-car Evanston shuttle train has taken its place. After its riders depart, it will change ends on a siding just south of the station, and then head north after picking up passengers at the opposite platform.

A Skokie Swift single-car unit at Howard in December 1968.

A Skokie Swift single-car unit at Howard in December 1968.

An Evanston train of 4000s at Howard in December 1968.

An Evanston train of 4000s at Howard in December 1968.

Two Swift trains at Howard, December 1968.

Two Swift trains at Howard, December 1968.

At left, a northbound Skokie Swift car, and at right, a southbound Howard “A” train at the Howard terminal in October 1966.

Two single car units in October 1966, both equipped for overhead wire, but for different purposes. In the foreground, an Evanston shuttle car has trolley poles, while the Skokie Swift car at rear uses pantographs. Evanston was converted to third rail in 1973, and the Swift about 30 years after that.

Two single car units in October 1966, both equipped for overhead wire, but for different purposes. In the foreground, an Evanston shuttle car has trolley poles, while the Skokie Swift car at rear uses pantographs. Evanston was converted to third rail in 1973, and the Swift about 30 years after that.

Same as the previous picture, this overhead shot from the transfer bridge, taken in October 1966, shows the difference in current collection on two of the CTA's 50 single car units.

Same as the previous picture, this overhead shot from the transfer bridge, taken in October 1966, shows the difference in current collection on two of the CTA’s 50 single car units.

A southbound Evanston shuttle train approaches the Howard terminal. Third rail was banned in Evanston by local ordinance until 1973.

A southbound Evanston shuttle train approaches the Howard terminal. Third rail was banned in Evanston by local ordinance until 1973.

In September 1964, a four-car Evanston Express train approaches (I think) the old station at State and Van Buren. All four cars are single car units equipped with trolley poles, for use in Evanston where local laws did not permit use of third rail for current collection. In the early 1970s, this station was closed and removed, but was eventually put back, to serve the Harold Washington Library. This leg of the Loop "L" had a continuous platform for some time, which is visible here. George Trapp: "The September 1964 photo of four single unit cars 25-28, 39-50 on the Evanston Express are at Madison & Wells not State & Van Buren. Note crossover at Washington where non rush Ravenswood and late AM Evanston Expresses crossed over to the Inner Loop after stopping at Randolph & Wells on the Outer Loop. There was also a long continuous platform from Randolph to Madison."